Exploring the Coast of Lake Champlain
Fall-foliage season can make much of Vermont less idyllic than you'd hope. All the more reason to head north, where you'll see more bikes than cars.
Sally prepares a breakfast of Western omelets, hash browns, and buttery croissants and serves it on the screened-in porch. We leave Adams Landing reluctantly and drive south toAllenholm Farm, Vermont's oldest working orchard. In business since 1870 and run now by the fourth, fifth, and sixth generations of the Allen family, the 300-acre farm has a gift shop, tractor rides, and a small petting zoo. Moira and I join a bunch of families on a wagon ride to the orchard. Five minutes later, we're filling our bags with Northern Spy, one of my favorite varieties of red apple. At one point, we turn a corner and come face-to-face with a grazing donkey.
Grapes tend to thrive in South Hero, too. Nine-year-oldSnow Farm Vineyardis Vermont's first commercial winery, and it's still the only one in the islands. The varietals, including seyval blanc, Riesling, and vignoles, are similar to those grown near the Finger Lakes. We taste four of the wines for free, and then I pony up $2.50 to try the ice wine. I'm skeptical: Vermont cheddar, Vermont maple syrup, even Vermont salsa--but Vermont wine? It's a nice surprise, sweet and fruity, with a hint of honey. In other words, a beautiful addition to tomorrow's picnic.
- Allenholm Farm111 South St., South Hero, 802/372-5566, peck of apples $4
- Snow Farm Vineyard190 W. Shore Rd., South Hero, 802/372-9463
Finding your way
This trip is not about great distances: Burlington International Airport (served by JetBlue, US Airways, and Continental Express, among others) is less than an hour from the Sandbar causeway that leads to Grand Isle, and it takes mere minutes to get from one island to another. The islands are connected by small bridges, and there are no tolls. While it's difficult to get lost, you'll still want a good map. The Chamber of Commerce in North Hero, next door to Hero's Welcome, gives out free maps of the area (802/372-8400, champlainislands.com). To time the trip right, you might check out Vermont Tourism's Foliage Fore-caster at vermontvacation.com.