New Hampshire wine

honey

For sale at Flag Hill Winery gift shop

In the September issue of New Hampshire Magazine, my article: Uncorked: Our Guide to Granite State Vineyards and Wineries (Would you believe there are 23?)

Wine, one sip of this will bathe the drooping spirits in delight beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise and taste. – John Milton

I drink wine. Many people do. We grab a bottle at the store to serve with dinner. We order a glass or two at a restaurant. It’s part of life – and so it has been since the magic of fruit fermentation was first discovered.

But think outside the box, or bottle trucked from California: go visit a New Hampshire winery to taste some truly local wines. I did, and this is what I learned.

NH wines are different

They do not taste like wines from the West Coast, Europe or South America. They are made from grapes that grow where summers are short, winters are cold and there is abundant rain and snow. Or, they are made from New Hampshire-grown fruit like apples, blueberries and blackberries. Sometimes they are made with honey. They are made in small batches with limited distribution. They are unique, often delicious and truly worth seeking out.

Hermit Woods Winery is off the beaten path – both geographically and compared to most of the winemaking world. A signpost near the tasting room, in the Lakes Region town of Sanbornton, has arrows pointing to Napa Valley, France, South America and nine other New Hampshire wineries. But inside, owner Bob Manley promises: “You will never have wines like this anywhere else.”

Manley, Chuck Lawrence and Ken Hardcastle are three good friends with varied life experience and complementary talents who loved to talk about – and drink – wine together when they decided to open Hermit Woods in 2009. Hardcastle, a geologist by profession, is also a self-taught wizard of winemaking. His complex, dry wines are made with honey from his own bees, orange daylily flowers, local apples and blueberries and wild-foraged fruit like elderberries and rose hips. The very first batch of Hermit Woods’ Heirloom Crabapple Wine was made with fruit from the crabapple tree in the front yard of Manley’s house, where the winery is located.

My idea of what wine is ­- and can be – will never be the same after I tasted Hermit Woods’ Knot Tomato wine. It begins with five varieties of tomatoes grown locally, fermented whole and gently strained to capture the health benefits and flavor intensity. Rhubarb is blended to balance the tomato sweetness with tang and acidity, explains Hardcastle, as he pours an ounce or so into my glass. He added the invasive perennial Japanese knotweed, which grows wild in his back yard, to provide a boost of healthy resveratrol. This is a very odd wine, but I definitely like it.

Read the rest.

MAP

Bonus!… check out these awesome short videos of New Hampshire wineries, by MIP Media.

New Hampshire wine

For sale at Flag Hill Winery gift shop

In the September issue of New Hampshire Magazine, my article: Uncorked: Our Guide to Granite State Vineyards and Wineries (Would you believe there are 23?)

Wine, one sip of this will bathe the drooping spirits in delight beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise and taste. – John Milton

I drink wine. Many people do. We grab a bottle at the store to serve with dinner. We order a glass or two at a restaurant. It’s part of life – and so it has been since the magic of fruit fermentation was first discovered.

But think outside the box, or bottle trucked from California: go visit a New Hampshire winery to taste some truly local wines. I did, and this is what I learned.

NH wines are different

They do not taste like wines from the West Coast, Europe or South America. They are made from grapes that grow where summers are short, winters are cold and there is abundant rain and snow. Or, they are made from New Hampshire-grown fruit like apples, blueberries and blackberries. Sometimes they are made with honey. They are made in small batches with limited distribution. They are unique, often delicious and truly worth seeking out.

Hermit Woods Winery is off the beaten path – both geographically and compared to most of the winemaking world. A signpost near the tasting room, in the Lakes Region town of Sanbornton, has arrows pointing to Napa Valley, France, South America and nine other New Hampshire wineries. But inside, owner Bob Manley promises: “You will never have wines like this anywhere else.”

Manley, Chuck Lawrence and Ken Hardcastle are three good friends with varied life experience and complementary talents who loved to talk about – and drink – wine together when they decided to open Hermit Woods in 2009. Hardcastle, a geologist by profession, is also a self-taught wizard of winemaking. His complex, dry wines are made with honey from his own bees, orange daylily flowers, local apples and blueberries and wild-foraged fruit like elderberries and rose hips. The very first batch of Hermit Woods’ Heirloom Crabapple Wine was made with fruit from the crabapple tree in the front yard of Manley’s house, where the winery is located.

My idea of what wine is ­- and can be – will never be the same after I tasted Hermit Woods’ Knot Tomato wine. It begins with five varieties of tomatoes grown locally, fermented whole and gently strained to capture the health benefits and flavor intensity. Rhubarb is blended to balance the tomato sweetness with tang and acidity, explains Hardcastle, as he pours an ounce or so into my glass. He added the invasive perennial Japanese knotweed, which grows wild in his back yard, to provide a boost of healthy resveratrol. This is a very odd wine, but I definitely like it.

Read the rest.

MAP

Bonus!… check out these awesome short videos of New Hampshire wineries, by MIP Media.

Gull on a wall with a roll

Open wide.

A juvenile gull on the seawall at North Hampton Beach and a big chunk of bread roll. Someone came by with lots of bread on Saturday morning right after we finished our monthly beach cleanup. I was in my car, about to leave, and rolled down the window to get this shot.

You shouldn’t feed the gulls. But if you do, I might take a picture.

Nom nom.

THE SEA-GULL, by Ogden Nash
Hark to the whimper of the sea-gull;
He weeps because he’s not an ea-gull.
Suppose you were, you silly sea-gull.
Could you explain it to your she-gull?

Ogden Nash had a summer home up on the promontory about a quarter of a mile from this spot.

Shop Portsmouth on Friday nights

Market Street, Portsmouth

Last Friday afternoon, I visited the “big city” for the first time in a while and had some great shopping success, all within pleasant, scenic walking distance.

I bought a glitzy evening bag at Puttin’ On the Glitz (LOVE their vintage-style jewelry), silver strappy heels at City Shoes and a blue dress at Club Boutique (the two shops share floor space), a pair of drop pearl earrings at Prelude, and a big jar for making and serving sangria at the LeRoux Kitchen (a toy store for grownups).

And I learned that every Friday night in summer lots of shops stay open till 8 p.m. If you bring a receipt from something you bought to one of the many participating Portsmouth restaurants you can get a special dining offer. I may go back this coming Friday night!

More info: Shop Portsmouth Friday Nights

tax-free island located at the junction of three states, Portsmouth is truly a shopper’s heaven!

Portsmouth boutiques and specialty shops, 99% of which are locally owned and operated, have made Portsmouth a virtual cornucopia of styles and tastes. Stroll downtown and discover some true treasures for every member of the family.

Carpe summer

Shasta daisies at sunset, North Hampton fish houses

Hampton-North Hampton Patch: Carpe Summer!

The sun is setting earlier every day. It’s a tragic fact of life that summer doesn’t last forever. Here is a list of strictly seasonal activities I think every summer in the New Hampshire Seacoast should include.

• Immerse yourself in the salty sea. My own favorite swimming spots are the Seabrook side of Hampton Inlet, with views of the marsh and Hampton Harbor, with the tide coming in, and rocky Bass Beach in North Hampton where my dog can join in the fun after hours. What are yours?

• Get an ice cream cone. I like The Beach Plum after dinner. Sit on the seawall across the street at North Hampton Beach and watch the dark of night approach from the east over the water, with reflections of pink and purple sunset colors in the clouds.

• Get out on the water. Go party boat fishing or whale watching out of Hampton Harbor, Seabrook Harbor or Rye Harbor. Or get invited to set sail with friends who have a boat. See the wonders of the deep, taste the salt on your lips, and fall asleep that night with the gentle rocking sensation of still being on deck.

• Visit the arcades along The Strip in Hampton Beach. Play skeeball at Playland. Get a ridiculous workout on the Dance Dance Revolution machine at Funorama. Shoot the piano players (and much more) at the vintage shooting gallery in the Casino building. Keep up your gaming strength with fried dough from Blink’s.

• Watch fireworks at Hampton Beach. Spectacular displays every Wednesday night, plus Labor Day weekend, the Seafood Festival, and October 6.

• Play miniature golf. I like the lushly landscaped Captain’s Cove Adventure Golf on Route 1 in Hampton. It is very close to four or five great restaurants now too. Go with friends and make the loser pay for beer and pizza.

• Eat and/or drink outside on a deck. Try Castaways in Seabrook for amazing sunsets (and Neptune margaritas), North Beach Bar & Grill near “The Wall” and the surfing scene in Hampton, The 401 Tavern in downtown Hampton (Sunday brunch with bloody marys), and the Sea Ketch at the center of the action in downtown Hampton Beach.

• See hundreds and hundreds of blooming roses, and more, at Fuller Gardens in North Hampton. Nearby, at the north end of the fishhouses at North Hampton Beach, admire the seaside garden maintained by the gardening women of the Rye Beach-Little Boar’s Head Garden Club.

• Enjoy free music outdoors at the North Hampton Bandstand, the Hampton Falls Bandstand, theSeashell Stage in Hampton Beach, and Prescott Park in Portsmouth.

• Fly in a helicopter or a vintage open-cockpit biplane at Hampton Airfield. See the Seacoast from the sky!

That’s my list; what’s yours? What am I missing? I want to make the most of summer while it lasts!