Taking a break from Italy for a day to feature a winery from my home area. I've been fortunate to have spent most of my life in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, specifically Lake Winnipesaukee, since I was born. My parents have always owned a home there and we traveled there every weekend from when I was a baby. Till this day I still frequent this area often year round as its beautiful for all its seasons in so many ways.
In recent years I started discovering the wineries of New Hampshire. Earlier this year in February I was fortunate enough to get a tour of the new winery that was opening nearby on Main Street in Meredith, Hermit Woods, prior to their grand opening. Their original winery began in 2011 in Sanbornton, NH as a partnership between Bob Manley, Ken Hardcastle and Chuck Lawrence. Due to the growth of the winery they have relocated to this wonderful establishment in downtown Meredith, a great edition to the community.
Hermit Woods creates a unique spin on wines by producing drier style wines with fruits like elderberry, kiwi, apples, blueberries and rosehips. I must say I was hesitant at first, as I always am, at going to wineries that are producing “wine” out of fruit. I have sampled some in the past and what they are producing is hard for me to call wine. I love when I am proven wrong and can open my eyes to wineries that are doing something well and Hermit Woods is that place for these fruit based wines.
I met with Bob and Ken on both of my visits at the pre-opening as well as my tasting this past weekend. They have a beautiful tasting room with wine barrels displayed overhead upon your entrance. There is also an outside tasting area on the deck that is seasonal. The actual production facilities are located underneath the tasting room where the wine is stored in temperature controlled rooms along with 550 gallon tanks. This expansion and relocation to Meredith has allowed them to increase their production. In their old establishment they produced about 1,000 cases annually and now in their new facility they are producing about 2,000 cases with the hope of expanding to 4,000 cases soon.
Ken, Hermit Wood's winemaker, has been making wine since 1996. He has a passion for experimenting with fruits and other elements like oak and yeasts for the future tailoring of wines that they will produce. They use fruits and 100% pure honey from NH, ME, VT and PA.
My recent tasting I sampled wines made from kiwi, apples, mead, blueberries and peaches. My favorite wines from the tasting were the 2013 three-honey wine, 2013 heirloom crabapple wine and the 2013 deep blue.
• 2013 Kiwi
• 2013 Harvest Apple Wine
• 2013 Three-Honey Wine
• 2013 Petite Blueberries
• 2013 Heirloom Crabapple Wine
• 2013 Chuck's Peach Folly
• 2013 Deep Blue
The Three-Honey wine had an aromatic nose along with a silky texture and elegance to it on the palate with a light touch of honey. This wine is made from three unfiltered white honeys, also known as spring honey. The wine is produced solely on honey, water and yeast. It won a gold medal at the top mead competition, Mazer Cup, in Boulder, CO.
The second wine I enjoyed was the 2013 Heirloom Crabapple wine. It's made from the dolgo apple that in the 1800's was originally used in making cider. This started as an experiment as they first tried these apples from Bob’s yard. Due to the feedback and demand for this wine it has grown to be a favorite among tasters. This wine is made of 95% crabapple and 5% blueberries. I enjoyed the crisp and tartness of this wine. It was like biting into an apple and the finish was enjoyable as it lingered.
Lastly, the 2013 Deep Blue is made 100% from blueberries only. The blueberries are grade A tiny blueberries brought in from Downeast Maine. It takes about 1 pound of blueberries to make a 375 ml bottle of this wine. There was a beautiful lusciousness of this wine. It was like liquid blueberry pie in a bottle. I'd love to know how this would taste over pancakes instead of syrup.
The Lakes Region has a lot to offer and making a stop at Hermit Woods is well worth the visit. Grab a bottle for a picnic, a gift or just because. A great upcoming event is the Barrel Tasting Weekend October 4th and 5th from 11am to 5pm at a number of the wineries in the Lakes Region. Don't miss it!