NEW HAVEN For Chris and Michaela Granstrom of Lincoln Peak Vineyard and Nursery, the years of selecting, planting, nursing, and finally vintning high quality wine grapes for Vermonts fickle northern climate are about to pay off. July 12 marks the official grand opening of Addison Countys first winery offering locally produced red and white wine blends that are truly worthy of the regions best tables. Lincoln Peaks cozy winery, located at 142 River Rd., just off Route 7 in New Haven, is open for vineyard tours. And the pi_ de r_stance of any vineyard tour is the winetasting. Grape growers in places like northern New England used to be limited to a few varieties such as Concord, said Chris. Even these grapes didnt always ripen in our short growing season, and when they ripened, they were better for jelly and juice. The foxy flavor was nothing that wine drinkers want in their glasses. But all that has changed. The University of Minnesota has created new varieties of Vitis riparia that survive our northern winter and can be made into excellent wine. The world of wine-grape growing has finally come to Vermont! In the weeks leading up to the July 12 grand opening, Lincoln Peak Vineyard has been letting the public in for pre-opening samplings of its four (soon to be five) estate-bottled wines wines that are so delicious you almost cant believe they were produced locally. These Addison County wines seriously run circles around all other Vermont-made wines. Using award-winning European-made Letina brand vats and top-of-the-line Missouri oak barrels, self-taught winemaker Chris Granstrom has created a showcase winery for showcase wines. And he better be prepared to take a lot of well-deserved praise (and were hoping some regional and national wine awards to hang on the mantle). Granstrom is committed to healthy, safe agricultural practices at Lincoln Peak. He is a strong proponent of the green IPM methodshort for integrated pest managementa realistic way of managing a vineyard in Vermonts cool, wet environment that breeds rot, mold, mildew, and lots of pesky insects, natural enemies of the grape. Now heres your assignment, dear reader: Try Lincoln Peak wines for yourself with a relaxing visit to the winery that will include a free wine- and cheese-tasting session. You can meet your local winemakers in person, toohave a sip and celebrate our first local wines and the hardworking, pioneering hands that produced them. Our fondest hope is that local restaurant owners will add Lincoln Peak products to their menus soon. Heres a brief look at the Granstroms handy work. These are the first labels bearing the Lincoln Peak Vineyard brand: Black Sparrow dry white: This wine exhibits a delicate aroma with a floral and honey flavor. Best chilled with poultry or a good goat cheese, according to the Granstroms. Cloud Mountain off-dry white: This Rieseling-style wine is made from the Lacrescent grape. It has a hint of apricot, pear, and Florida citrus. Chill it and serve it with Asian dishes, poultry its also perfect as an aperitif. Starlight rose: Its time to get off the hamster wheel of life. Sit, relax, and sipthis is a fabulous sipping wine and may prove to be Lincoln Peaks most popular. The wine contains complex fruit flavors with a touch of tannin. Ideal with seafood, pork, say the Granstroms. Cove Road dry red: Made from the Marquette grape. This wine boasts good tannins, with cherry and black-pepper aromas, according to the Granstroms. Best served at room temperature with beef, game, sausage and hearty cheeses. Nightfires ice wine: Ice wines are popular. Grapes are left on the vine to freeze and then harvested in December for an intense burst of flavor. Look for this Lincoln Peak dessert wine to debut soon. Lincoln Peak Vineyard is located at 142 River Rd. off Route 7, just north of the Middlebury town line. Winery tasting room hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. Grand opening: July 12. The grand opening will feature guided vineyard tours, tours of the newly built wine-making facility, as well as samples of estate-bottled wines, produced entirely from grapes grown in the vineyard.