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By Leo Jakobson
Wine aficionados planning a vineyard tour in New York will generally turn to the Hudson River Valley, Long Island or the Finger Lakes regions, where most of the state's grapes are grown -- excluding, of course, the huge Concord grape-juice vineyards around Lake Erie.
While there are other winemaking areas in the state, including the Niagara Escarpment and Lake Ontario region of central New York, one of them has not yet been fully discovered, namely Sullivan County, which is about 75 miles northwest of New York City, in the Catskill Mountains. This year, Paul Deninno, owner, manager, vine-tender, grape-picker and vintner of
"Five years ago, I decided I wanted to do something agricultural with my property," Deninno says. After recently visiting Napa Valley, he threw himself into the wine business, taking classes at
His 600-vine winery, which produces 500 cases per year, is open for tastings and tours year-round on Saturdays from noon to 6 p.m. until Labor Day.
The vineyard produced its first commercial crop last year -- a cabernet franc named Black Bear and a noiret Deninno named Bowfin, both reds, and the Cayuga grape with which Deninno makes his Whitetail. All of Deninno's wines are named after animals found in the nearby Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area -- a protected wetland only a stone's throw away from Deninno's front door that gives his vineyard its name.
And while his own vines are untested, his skill as a vintner is not. He's been mixing and bottling grapes purchased from established Finger Lakes wineries for three years, and six of the seven 2006 and 2007 vintages he entered in last year's Hudson Valley Wine and
Behind the winery, Deninno has build a wide, inviting patio and deck overlooking his vines and the Basha Kill, where visitors -- mostly New Yorkers with weekend homes in the area as well as locals -- like to get together and chat over a glass of wine. Once a month, Deninno brings in a musician and this year, he will fire up a newly built grill pit and offer wine and food pairings.
HOW TO GET TO BASHA KILL VINEYARDS
Exit on state Route 113 off Route 17. When you get off the ramp, go south on Route 209 for about 1.5 miles. Make a left on Haven Road (after the Moose Lodge) and go to the end. Then make a right onto South Road.
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Vacation Travel - Basha Kill Vineyards, Sullivan County New York