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‘Taste the Cape’ at winery to be launched in April

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CAPE VINCENT — Wine enthusiasts will have a chance to “Taste the Cape” this summer.

That’s the phrase David B. and Sandra L. Fralick use to describe the full-bodied wine they produce at Cape Winery at Deerlick Farm, 2066 Deerlick Road, where they will open a tasting room April 5. The eighth winery to be launched in the north country, the business is a featured destination on the Thousand Islands-Seaway Wine Trail.

Varieties to be debuted in April include Frontenac, La Crescent, Frontenac gris and a cross between traminette and sabrevois. The winery’s Marquette, which needs more time to age, will be introduced in August. Also offered will be wines from the Finger Lakes region: merlot, cabernet franc and chardonnay. Bottles will range from $12 to $19.

Mr. Fralick described the traminette-sabrevois, which to his knowledge will be offered only here, as having a distinctive citrus flavor. The traminette grape originated in Germany, while the sabrevois is an American variety.

“It has a citrus taste but is a little sweet, almost like a pink grapefruit,” he said.

The Fralicks have found Deerlick Farm, which they purchased in 1996, to be an ideal spot for a vineyard. It’s about a half-mile from the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, which help to temper the climate when weather is erratic during the winter and summer. Land that slopes to the south helps expose the vines to sunlight, and the limestone soil drains water efficiently.

The couple planted 3 acres of vines as a hobby in 2006. They were inspired to open the winery three years ago and have spent the past two years retrofitting the buildings. Most of the 1,500 vines were mature last fall, and 6 tons of grapes were harvested — enough for 900 gallons of wine, or 4,500 bottles.

Mr. Fralick said that within the next three years, Cape Winery will produce about 80 percent of the wine it sells. Two more acres of vines will be planted in the spring.

The tasting room is a former car garage with large carriage-style doors. Inside is an 18-foot wooden bar built by Mr. Fralick, along with hand-crafted wooden bottle racks.

“We wanted everything to look and feel like a barn,” Mrs. Fralick said.

A space that was previously used as a milking parlor has been converted for wine storage, housing 275- and 325-gallon tanks.

The operation runs somewhat differently than at other wineries. Grapes are crushed with the skins left in the wine; though it requires more production time, it produces a richer taste, Mr. Fralick said.

“It’s a woodsy, viney taste that adds flavor,” he said. “We try to get the best taste out of our grapes each year.”

The winery will host summer events in an 1800s dairy barn. Along with dining, visitors will be able to tour the vineyards.

“We’ll host farm-to-table dinners with food that complements wine,” Mrs. Fralick said. “We’ll pick food that makes the wine pop — like walnuts with chardonnay.”

Mr. Fralick, 62, said the business will keep the couple active during their twilight years. He also serves as vice president of the NNY Grape Growers Association.

“This is something I can do for the next 15 years and not kill myself,” he joked.

Cape Winery will be open from noon to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday through Memorial Day, and from noon to 5 p.m. seven days a week through the summer. For more information, call the winery at 654-3218.

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