Group gives tips on building a

CHAMPLAIN - If you've ever wanted to learn more about the art of winemaking, Lake Champlain Wines can help.

The organization, formerly known as the Lake Champlain Grape Growers Association, is hosting a free workshop this Saturday, May 22, that will focus on mapping and planting for a vineyard.

Rob McDowell, vice president of Lake Champlain Wines, said the idea behind the workshop is to get more people interested in tapping into what has become a cottage industry.

"A number of our members are planting new grapes in their vineyards. So, we thought what we'd do is just take an activity that was going to happen anyway and turn it into a workshop," said McDowell.

The group did something similar when it hosted a pruning workshop in March at Hid-In-Pines Vineyard in Morrisonville, said McDowell.

"That was pretty successful," he said. "We had about 50 people there and picked up a few new members."

The workshop will be geared toward novices and experienced grape growers, said McDowell, covering "the full spectrum." Upcoming workshops will focus on canopy management, summer pruning, and predator control, among other topics of interest to those wanting to grow their own grapes. And, given the area's almost impeccable ability to produce grapes, McDowell said he expects to see more and more vineyards sprouting up in the near future.

"The Lake Champlain region is an unusually good place to grow grapes," said McDowell, noting that to be contrary to what some would expect. "Pretty much anywhere you see apples, you can grow grapes."

This Saturday's workshop will be held at McDowell's own business, Four Maples Vineyard, 446 Prospect St. The workshop will begin at 2 p.m. and include a brief discussion led by Rich Lamoy, owner of Hid-In-Pines Vineyard.

For more information, call McDowell at 335-4981 or visit the Lake Champlain Wines Web site at www.lakechamplainwines.com.

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