A new book written by Andy Dufresne, a former Cornell Cooperative Extension director in Chautauqua County, practically begs travelers "just get off the interstate and see everything" - particularly when it comes to growing and enjoying grapes.
Dufresne is a native of northern Vermont, but his work with Cornell as an educator and leader among the many agricultural businesses in the area taught him to love the diversity and beauty of rural Chautauqua County.
He said his dream when he retired in 2006 was to buy a motor scooter and spend time leisurely driving the roads of the county. "I never bought the scooter, but I put on lots of miles on my car," he said.
The result of his travels is the book, titled "Traversing America's Grape Country."
It has more than 200 color photos that feature the large grape-growing area from North East, Pa. through Chautauqua County. It is large, almost like a workbook, and has high-quality glossy print. The book is divided into different segments about agri-business and historic features of Chautauqua County.
Dufresne agrees it is the kind of book that fits well in the car and sort of invites the traveler to check off special locations and circle directions and maps to use the pages to the full extent.
He is part educator, part narrator and part mapping guide in the book. He helps travelers find many agri-businesses as well as other historic spots all along the grape trail. After his 33-year career with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Chautauqua County and residency in retirement in the county, Dufresne is something of an authority on the landscapes and landmarks..
He said his idea was born because of his many years of contacts with grape farmers.
"The grape industry in this region is worth about $340 million," he said. There are more than 2,000 jobs directly associated with grape farming, making it the largest grape growing area in the United States outside of California.
Dufresne's book will be available at the Festival of Grapes on Saturday in Silver Creek.