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FLCC student working on urban vineyards

Canandaigua, N.Y. -- Moving vineyards from sprawling hillsides of the Finger Lakes to the rooftops of New York City is an endeavor being taken on by Finger Lakes Community College student Devin Shomaker.

Why not bring grape vines and viticulture to roof tops to urban spaces? said Shomaker, who is studying viticulture and wine technology at FLCC. "My career path started in sales, business development, I was in a cubicle. I was selling products and services to people I didn't know, didn't care about me. It was a little bit unfulfilling for me, and I eventually found my love for wine and I invested in that and I changed my whole life.

Last year, Shomaker and his business partners, his brother Thomas, Evan Miles of Miles Wine Cellars, and fellow FLCC student Chris Papalia, built Rooftop Reds' first vineyard on the roof of Shoemaker's New York City home.

I absolutely think that we were successful, said Shomaker. It was an immature design, but we knew that going into it what we were really focusing on was nutrient management and we are also focusing on developing the urban planters itself.

Throughout its first year, Rooftop Reds worked with Cornell University and other vineyards in the Finger Lakes to develop a container and trellis system that would allow vines to grow long term on rooftops.

Weve developed it over the year into a container and trellis system that were confident in allowing 20 years of proficient growth of these grape vines, which will translate to about 17 years of actual full crop, said Shomaker. Rooftop Reds is (now) trying to raise $15,000 in order to help fund the production with Vance Metal Fabricators Inc. in Geneva, who is manufacturing our urban trellis design.

Rooftop Reds launched a campaign on Kickstarter to try and raise the $15,000. With this money, it plans to plant 200 vines this spring and 1,000 next year.

This Kickstarter kind of does two things for us; it starts the production process, but it also shows other investors, which we hope to go after that, theres a lot of merit behind this project, people are interested, said Shomaker. Were going to be doing something absolutely truly unique; were going to be bringing vineyards to the city to urban centers and exposing urban dwellers to viticulture practices and agriculture practices.

For more information on Rooftop Reds, click here.

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Washington Times