Our first winery, Savage Oakes Winery, was our smallest production winery of the day. This winery has always been a farm and decided to open a winery back in 2002 when they were trying to find a way to maximize their blueberry fields that expanded into grape growing. They started off with 2 acres and now have grown to 4 acres and over 10 varieties grown. They are located in Union, ME, 30 miles east of Augusta. Many of their wines are 100% Maine grown grapes. Some of my favorites here was Georges River made with the Cayuga grape, and First Kiss, a dessert style made from St. Pepin grapes. You can also buy their meats on-site as well.
The second vineyard was Breakwater Vineyards located in Owls Head, ME. What a gorgeous town to start and a beautiful vineyard to top it all off. This was my highlight vineyard of the day. Not only for the beautiful establishment and area that they are in, but also the quality of the wines here were really great. Their hospitality was also top notch. This winery has 3,000 grapevines with 32 acres producing 1,500 cases, so obviously much bigger production. Some grapes are grown on-site organically, but others are imported from NY including the Finger Lakes and the North Fork. They follow a 3 tiered system where they grow their grapes only on the bottom. They also are the only vinifera producer in the state of ME. I enjoyed both their oaked and unoaked chardonnays. They had a real interesting rosé called Rosé Rugosa that was almost like a dessert style, but lighter. Their pinot noir had nice fruit with a beautiful finish. A big hit here with the ladies was their hard cider, but its not my style. Our last tasting was their Breakwater Blues just released, paired with chocolate, which brought out such a different side to the wine and the chocolate. It was a beautiful way to spend a tasting where we were privately served on their patio outside their garden and vineyards by our wonderful host Martha.
Our last stop was at Cellardoor Winery in Lincolnville, ME. This winery was started in 2007 on a 200 year old farm that had been recently restored. The owner decided to leave her career and follow her passion. Something I’m sure we all wish we would do! Cellardoor has a great commercial kitchen and entertainment space where they hold many events as well as a great tasting room with many gifts and a chance to sample some local products of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. They have about 5.5 acres of vines planted with about 15,000 cases of wine produced annually. They also import grapes as well from NY along with WA and CA. We got a ride in “Dumbo” their oversized golf cart down to the vineyards. Their tasting list was very extensive so we got a variety of samples all great in their own way. They had an interesting blueberry wine with 10% maple syrup that was a rather tasty way to taste local products in a different way. I grabbed a glass of Gewurztraminer to tour the vineyards, which was delicious!
The tough part about growing grapes in this part of the country is our climates. We aren’t privileged with the longer growing seasons like other parts of the country. Here in the northeast many of the wineries are growing cold climate grapes as I had mentioned like in the Finger Lakes as well. So unless you have gone to visit wineries around the northeast you may not be familiar with the some of the names from shopping in your local liquor store. Red grapes such as Marechal Foch, Leon Millot, Frontenac, Marquette and white grapes like Cayuga, LaCrosse and Frontenac Gris. Try them if you get a chance and support your local wineries!