Sunday, July 06, 2008

New Hampshire is Wine Country Too!!

NH is wine country
A tasting guide to five local wineries
By Linda A. Thompson-Odum
Hippo Press

Most wine-lovers seem to gravitate toward wines made in California, France or Italy. Some of the more adventurous consider selections from Oregon, Australia, Chile, Argentina and South Africa.

But what about New Hampshire?

If you have not tried wines from this state, now is the time. There are a number of winemakers who are dedicated to high-quality wines that can stand up to comparisons from larger world wineries.

“The quality of winemaking in this state is high,” said Dr. Peter D. Oldak, owner of Jewell Towne Vineyards and current president of the New Hampshire Winery Association. “People are pleasantly surprised at the taste of our wines. They find them comparable to most European selections.”

Currently there are 14 wineries in the state (find them all at Most are run by owners as a second career. Oldak describes them as “wine people who are fed up with corporate America and want to get back to the land.”

Grape country? Here?
It is not easy to grow wine grapes in New Hampshire, with its short growing season and harsh winters. However, there are a number of places across the country, such as Cornell University in New York, that have developed cold-hardy hybrids that can withstand the state’s weather challenges. “Some of the cooler parts of the country have developed grapes vines that are hardy at 35 and 40 degrees below zero,” Oldak said.

When it comes to global climate change, warmer temperatures would seem to benefit most wine makers, allowing them to grow more varieties of grapes, especially the red-wine grapes that require long periods of warm temperatures to develop their flavor.

“Last year, when I was in Germany, they told me that their temperatures had increased 10 degrees from a decade ago,” said Jim Zanello of Zorvino Vineyards. “They are able to grow more reds than before.”

However, wine-makers worry about the extremes in weather that climate change could cause.

“I am more concerned about the violence of the weather swings,” said Robert Dabrowski of Candia Vineyards. “The hail storms, excess winds, heavy rains. If it brings more moisture from the south to this area, then you can have more disease and late frosts. Those would be significant problems.”

When consumers support local New Hampshire vineyards and wineries, they also help to keep the state green. “Whether you like wine or not, the grapes are taking up open land,” said Frank Reinhold of Flag Hill. “Grapes take a lot of space to grow. If they were not there, house lots would be in their place.”

Recently the Association created three New Hampshire wine and cheese trails — one in the Seacoast area, one along the western edge of the state, and one in the Merrimack Valley (see, or look for brochures and wineries and tourist information stops). Oldak noted that most of the trails’ wineries have tasting rooms, which provide a fun activity for residents and their out-of-town guests. And because wine changes from year to year, it makes sense to go back to the wineries to taste their new offerings each season.

“Someone said, ‘Don’t guzzle gas. Guzzle wine,’” Oldak said with a chuckle.

Here’s a closer look at five wineries in the southern tier of New Hampshire. Can’t afford a vacation to Napa? Take a day trip to one of these spots.

Candia Vineyards, 702 High St., Candia
LaBelle Winery, 100 Chestnut Hill Road, Amherst
Zorvino Vineyards, 226 Main St., Sandown
Jewell Towne Vineyards, 183 Whitehall Road, South Hampton
Flag Hill Winery and Distillery, 297 North River Road, Lee

If you go to this URL you can read the rest of this article which has excellent descriptions of each winery, the makers, and their wine lists: