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Wine trail could make vineyards a destination

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Wine trail could make vineyards a destination
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It's not going to happen this year, but winemakers in the North Country aren't giving up hope for a new wine trail. Senator Pattie Ritchie proposed a St. Lawrence County wine trail running through three local wineries and a brewery but it wasn't included in this year's state budget. But as our Matt Jarchow found out, wineries are still looking forward to giving visitors a taste of the North Country.

ST. LAWRENCE COUNTY, N.Y. -- Bella Brooke Vineyard has been open for less than one year. Already co-owner Gary Davis is seeing the North Country's comforts in wine.

"People just seem to enjoy it," Davis said. "They can come here and sit out on the deck, have a glass of wine."

A proposed St. Lawrence County wine trail has Davis and other local winemakers excited. In a spread out region, a wine trail could put local companies on the map.

"We're a little bit off the main path here," High Peaks Winery owner Matt Whalen explained. "Having some signs up by the road will help to draw a lot of people who don't know about us into the winery."

And make North Country wineries a day long or weekend destination.

"Visit a lot of wineries, try some different wines," Whalen said. "We all have different styles of making our wines and different things to offer."

But a wine trail wouldn't impact the wineries alone. Not with so much else to see and do.

"I think it's a natural for an area like St. Lawrence County that depends on the outdoors on it's lake's, rivers and streams," St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Pat McKeown said. "Why people can come to fish in our pristine waters with our very abundant fish and stop for a bottle of wine along the way."

"We have a lot of people that come here during the summer looking for some place to go other than fishing," Davis said. "Guys bring their wives up and by Tuesday or Wednesday the women are ready to go do something else."

Winemakers are hoping that something else becomes a sip from their glass. However, creation of the wine trail is on hold now that the state budget is finalized. Ritchie's office says they will continue to try and push the legislation.

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