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Farm-to-Bottle: Are local libations the sleeping giant of value-added agriculture in Vermont?

A panel of four food experts considers that question.

I recently attended a panel discussion during the Vermont Restaurant Week at the fantastic new South End Kitchen that featured voices of the farmers, hard cider makers such as Citizen Cider, spirit makers like Vermont Spirits and local brewery, Switchback which is now making limited release batches of beer made exclusively with Vermont grown ingredients. The University of Vermont Extension Service held the perspective of challenges and opportunities to grow hops, barley, apples and other ingredients that make up the farm to bottle lifeline. 

Like many areas that are passionate about food and drink, some may say that Vermonters can be fanatical about our farm to table movement and for good reason.   The passion and creativity we heard from our panelists was infectious – each of the panelists had a fun story to tell of hobbies growing into a business, business turning into a tourist attraction, tourist attraction turning into a voice, the voice turning into a collective brand identity for Vermont.

I talk to my clients about this all the time, when they ask what is unique to our area.  What sets us apart?  Aside from a genuine, authentically hospitable area, I tell them the food and beverage cultural really sets us apart.  Groups can do brewery tours to some of America’s best microbrews, like the Alchemist. We can have a spirit maker orchestrate a vodka or gin tasting, Chef Josh Berry can organize cooking classes that might include a morning visit to a local farm to gather ingredients, or have a group experience a Vermont cheese and wine tasting at the nearby Boyden Valley Winery

What the panel discussion attempted to tie together was how much Vermont’s agriculture and tourism industries have come to learn and grow from each other.    Our guests agree, when you think of Vermont, words like clean, fresh, innovative, creative, fun, diverse come to mind.   Words that can used to describe our food as much as the people, places and businesses your groups will discover when they come to Stowe Mountain Lodge.

Jim Beaulieu is the Senior Sales Manager at Stowe Mountain Lodge.

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