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A still from a promotional video for the Adirondack Coast. Image:
A still from a promotional video for the Adirondack Coast. Image:

Champlain Valley wineries get official recognition

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Amid Wednesday's flurry of action in Albany, a bill passed that creates an official Adirondack Coast Wine Trail. According to the New York State Wine and Grape Association, more than five million people visit New York wineries every year.

The Adirondack coast in question is on Lake Champlain. The designation highlights seven wineries and a cider mill in Clinton County.

And there's room for more, says Colin Read, co-owner of Champlain Wine Company and North Star Vineyard. He told David Sommerstein the area chamber of commerce has a map and website for the new wine trail.

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Reported by

David Sommerstein
Reporter/ Producer

Colin Read: It essentially comes down Route 9 along the lake and goes back up to the north again to Mooers. So it covers about 50 to 60 miles.

David Sommerstein: Why does this matter? Why is it important to get this actual designation?

CR: The "Wine Trail" designation is really important because it allows us to establish signage. There's an awful lot of visitors that come through Clinton County on visits to the North Country of further south. But there's no real sign that indicates they are in the midst of an emerging wine company. So the [ Department of Transportation] will be putting up signs on our behalf, letting people know to go off the major routes and visit our vineyards.

DS: Is there funding associated with this?

A map of the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail. Image: <a href=""></a>
A map of the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail. Image:
CR: No, we have to actually pay for much of the signage ourselves. But we do have an association of vineyards in our region with dozens of members that are putting together the funds to purchase the signs.

DS: Why wine and cider in the North Country? I mean, what does this bring the region?

CR: People are somewhat surprised that we can grow wine in the North Country. There are of course the Finger Lakes and Long Island wineries, California wineries, etc., but over the last dozen or twenty years there's been the creation of a type of grape called "cold hardy" that do very well in these regions. It's a very rich tasting grape. It's opened up whole new areas. As long as we have the right soil type, no longer are the temperatures from the North Country a deterrent at all to growing really great wine.

There's also a demographic thing happening. I think the baby boomers and young people really appreciate the quality of life aspect of trying a local wine. The slow food movement is consistent with that, just sitting down and enjoying a nice tasting, and some nice appetizers, and you know thinking about what we drink a little more carefully.

DS: So tell me about one of your wines that you're really proud of. Give us a wine tasting pitch.

CR: Our biggest selling wine right now is made with a type of grape that we actually bring up from the Finger Lakes. It's called a Corot Noir grape. It's somewhat unusual. It has a very strong aroma, but a very different taste. People when they first bring it up to their nose to sense it they go "mmm, I'm not sure if I'm going to like this," it's very strong and overpowering. But it's now become our biggest selling wine.

The interesting thing about it is that it's surprising. It's something they're not used to. They try it out they really don't know if they're going to like it but they just love it. And that's the kind of transformational thing that we try to accomplish in winemaking.

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