Ten years ago, there were only a handfull of licensed Vineyards in New Hampshire. Today, in 2010, there are twenty-four licensed Vineyards and Wineries in the State, and many more home vintners, or winemakers, that have been bitten by the grape, so to speak.
This past weekend, my husband and I decided to check out two local Wineries in the Lakes Region, as we are beginning winemakers ourselves. We planted 45 vines last year, and as it takes 4 or 5 years to actually produce grapes that are good enough to make wine, we have a while to wait :-( In the meantime, our trip yielded lots of helpful information.
The first Vineyard on our adventure was Haunting Whisper Vineyard on Route 4 in Danbury.
Owners, Eric and Erin Wiswall, began their vineyard with 500 plants back in 2005, They have 75 acres with views of Mt Kearsage and Ragged Mountain. Eric was tending the Winery that day, while Erin was showcasing their wine at the Annual Co-op Producer's Fair in Lebanon. Eric took us to the window in the wine-tasting room, where we could see the fermentation room down below. Forget oak barrels. Most of today's local vintners use stainless steel tanks. Easier to clean and they last longer.
We then began our wine tasting experience with Haunting Whisper's wine list. My husband and I don't fancy ourselves as white wine drinkers (many are too sweet for us), but surprise, surprise... we ended up purchasing the Edelweiss. which is a semi-dry white. I was cooking up some local trout that night and this seemed to be the perfect pairing for the trout. We didn't have time to tour the actual vineyard, but we will definitely be back for more as Danbury is only a half hour away from our home!
The second Vineyard on the tour, which we visited the next day, was Stone Gate Vineyard in Gilford. Owners, Peter and Jane Ellis, and their daughter Cory, were perfect hosts.
When you first arrive at this 2 acre lot with 350 vines, you are driving into the Ellis' actual driveway. In fact, the fermentation is done right there where the photo looks like the garage door is open. Up to fifteen family members and friends fit into this small space to create 500 cases of product, just last year alone.
Now, having done some home brewing ourselves, this was something we could relate too. Who needs a garage when you can use the space for something better, right?
We walked the rows of grapes with the owner, Peter, as he patiently explained about securing the vines...
What the different variety of grapes look like...
and then the taste test :-) Talk about a wine-tasting room! This room was decorated in a style that truly enhanced the wine tasting experience.
The art work was done by local artist, Cathy Friel....Distinctive Illusionary Finishes and Murals, in a style called, Trompe L"Oeil (pronounced, Tromp Loy). Trompe L"Oeil is French for 'deceive the eye'. It is an art technique which creates the optical illusion that the objects depicted are actually three dimensional when they are not. I can not tell you how realistic those 'exposed' brick walls looked.
And check out what she did to the plywood flooring...
Sure enough, when we walked out of there, we walked out with another bottle of white wine. This time, it was the Seyval, also a dry white. So, maybe this experience changed our palates a little. There's nothing wrong with a little change now and then, right?
And my husband agrees with me when I say that as a result of Peter's fine tutelage, we are much more confident that the day will come when we can proudly share our stories of how to make a fine wine!
Be Sure to Check Out These Special Links of Interest:
New Hampshire Wine and Cheese Tour Brochure
Trompe L'Oeil Crumbling Wall Video by Chris Westall
How to Make Cheap Wine (Can't vouch for this one personally, but worth a try to see if winemaking is for you or not.)