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Man makes wine in the hills

What started as something of an experiment turned into a hobby, then a passion and finally a full-time job for Gary Akrop when he opened Ledge Rock Hill Winery in the Town of Corinth in May.

I did a sampling toward the end of last year but the winery wasn't complete, said Akrop.

What makes Akrop's winery unique is that he actually has a small vineyard where he grows some of his own grapes. While still fairly small, he has plans to steadily grow it.

"The vineyard is small at this time, I planed a block on a hillside overlooking the mountains to see if the vines can handle the cold weather and they have, so this is the first year I'll be getting the full yield," said Akrop.

The grapes he grows are a hybrid, a French-American variety, and he uses them to produce a Marquette exclusive to his winery.

"I partnered with a vineyard in the Fingerlakes that grew these grapes and was able to get an early start on making wine from them and at that point I realized the future potential of this grape as well as other hybrids," said Akrop.

Akrop's approach to winemaking is a mix of innate skill, curiosity and science.

"My background is in chemistry and I've held various technical and management positions within the industry," said Akrop. "Wine started as a hobby to an interest in chemical analysis of the wine itself and it progressed from there."

Before permanently settling in northern Saratoga County, Akrop and his wife spent the better part of 20 years making wine at an amateur level in the Hudson Valley. Akrop has sourced grapes from all over California throughout the years and when he started winning awards and medals, the thought of turning his obviously successful amateur stint into something more.

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