( Vines at Flag Hill in June 2010 )
On August 6th the New Hampshire Winery Association, its members and hundreds of state residents and tourists will meet up at the Rochester Fairgrounds in Rochester, NH for the Second Annual New Hampshire Wine Festival. Information about the event can be found at the New Hampshire Winery Association web site and at Zorvino Vineyards, where you can also buy tickets.
Margot and I covered the first edition of the festival last year, check out the pics and notes in NH Live Free and Wine Festival 2010.
We picked some favorites after tasting wines both old and new. Since first getting to know the NH wines about 10 years ago we have seen a lot of changes. The growth in the number of wineries (now 23+) and how many wines they produce has been considerable for our small state. The quality has bounced around quite a bit with all producers having their high and low spots. We have had some issues with sediment in white wines, re-fermentation, utter lack of concentration and fake tasting fruit flavors, all of which has resulted in some dumped bottles.
I remember a presentation at one of the winery association (we were members for a time) dinners where some history of wine in the state was discussed. I haven’t seen this in print anywhere so I can’t be sure I have the info straight. What I recall was that NH has a grape growing history going back into the first half of the 20th century and winemaking roots starting in the 1970’s. The original generation of businesses crashed, being renewed with Peter Oldak & Jewell Town Vineyards in the 1980’s. My new friend Lorie of Wining Ways just wrote a piece for Palate Press about New Hampshire, Granite Wine, picking up the story from where I just left off. We’ve grown a lot since then!
This year with 17 wineries in attendance, over 100 wines, a larger space and additional tasting tickets available I will surely be ratcheting up my tasting game.
( The line last year! )
I like the wines from New England as a reflection of how I grew up. I lived in no-longer-even-remotely-rural Enfield, CT with lots of farms, local produce and DIY family members. I learned to cook, clean, appreciate the great outdoors and have fun. It doesn’t matter what season you are in, the wines made from local fruits, climate hardy grapes and other, even offbeat, items can cover all the occasions; but probably only if you grew up like me. So the festival is a great opportunity for me to catch up on another year’s offerings, some of which I haven’t conveniently found yet.
So what I am looking forward to?
- Marecha Foch, Noiret, Diamond and LaCrescent from Candia Vineyards. These are my favorite regional grapes.
- Ciders from Farnum Hill. The Kingston Black would be nice.
- Foch, Vignoles and Cayuga from Flag Hill. They are easy drinking AND local.
- Anything from Jewell Towne, and certainly anything new. They are consistent and very well made.
- The meads from Moonlight. This stuff comes in all styles and is always a treat to try!
- Gewurztraminer, Seyval and whole pantload of new stuff from LaBelle!
- Blueberry and anything new from Sweet Baby Vineyards.
- The upstate cold weather hardy wines of Stone Gate Vineyards.
- What’s new from Fulchino. I don’t know them well so we’ll see with some tasting.
- New wineries like Appolo, Hermit Woods and Sap House potentially participating.
See you at the festival!