CLAYTON — It’s a two-hour tour.
Coyote Moon Vineyards’s Wine and Craft Beer Lounge on Riverside Drive was packed with patrons Saturday night, most with beverages already in hand, primed for a voyage on the St. Lawrence River.
As the boat left the dock, George L. “Jack” Grobe, the first mate, demonstrated how to don a life preserver to raucous cheers.
“By the end of the night, they’ll cheer at anything,” he said. “You can tell them we hit a rock and they’ll cheer. It’s good to see everyone having a good time.”
The cruise, which departs from the lounge at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights, features a scenic tour of the Thousand Islands and a selection of the Vineyards’ award-winning wines, which customers have a chance to sample before leaving shore.
On board, each passenger brings a bottle of wine, which is included with the admission price of $39.95, and can snack on cheese and crackers provided by River Rat Cheese, another Clayton business. At the end of the tour, passengers are given a free Coyote Moon glass.
There were 55 passengers on board the cruise Saturday night, including D.J. and Denise M. Johnson. The pair came from Buffalo to visit family in Alexandria Bay. The cruise gave them an opportunity to get better acquainted with the St. Lawrence.
“As many times as we’ve been here, we’ve only been out on the river two times,” Mr. Johnson said, showing off his bottle of Twisted Sister red. Mrs. Johnson paired a glass of Fire Boat White with the cool evening breeze coming off the water.
“The weather is great; the view is incredible,” Mr. Johnson said. “We’re having a good time, relaxing. We just got in. We’ll probably spend some time in Clayton tonight, catch some dinner and maybe some live music.”
The tour brought visitors from as far away as Buffalo and Rochester, as well as some from other parts of the north country.
Susan M. and Gregory M. Kulzer, members of the Vineyards’ wine club, came from Lowville.
“It’s relaxing — a bottle of wine, good food, good company, you can’t go wrong,” Mrs. Kulzer said.
“The river looks calm — it’s supposed to be a beautiful night,” Mr. Kulzer said, sipping a wine slushie. “Maybe it’ll get rowdy and somebody will throw somebody overboard.”
The tour departs and returns to the Vineyards’ downtown location, a strategy that seems to be paying off for the business.
Both the Johnsons and the Kulzers said they were planning to return to the lounge for drinks and food after the tour. A band was setting up for live music as the boat departed.
Allison C. Sisler, an elementary teacher in the LaFargeville Central School district, works for Coyote Moon in the summers helping out with the boat tours.
“I absolutely love it,” she said. “We get all kinds of groups — bachelorette parties, birthdays, anniversaries — people make up reasons to come out with us.”
She helped kick off the tour by encouraging passengers to raise a glass in a toast.
There were, of course, more cheers.
The cruises run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Sept. 6. Reservations can be made at 686-4030.