Beside a disused dairy farm in Vermont’s Champlain Valley, I’m shivering in a vineyard. Grasping a pair of pruning sheers I wonder how long it will take for my rapidly numbing hands to stop functioning altogether. It’s early April but the icy winds suggest January. I dare not complain, though. There are a dozen other pruners—mostly local volunteers—scattered amongst the rows of vines and they will brave these conditions for far longer.Vermonters are made of hardier stuff than I, I think, as my eyeballs freeze to their sockets and wet snow begins to blanket my head and shoulders.
“This is triage,” says Deirdre Heekin as we snip. The vineyard, located outside the small city of Vergennes, is called Les Carouges, and Heekin is the person who has coaxed from it some of the most talked-about wines in both the U.S. and the U.K.
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“A day does not go by that we do not field eight to ten requests for La Garagista wines,” says Jason Zuliani, co-owner of Dedalus Wine shop. “People call from around the country, but there are also so many people here in Burlington who want to try them. They are beautiful, distinct wines.”