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