My name is Carlo DeVito, and I am the author of East Coast Wineries: A Complete Guide from Maine to Virginia published by Rutgers University Press. This blog is dedicated to primarily east coast wines and wineries including Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. It will also feature products and information from other regions.
Saturday, August 31, 2013
Lincoln Peak Vineyards, Brick Cape Winery Featured in Valley News (VT)
Christine Makris poses for a portrait between rows of grapevines at Brick Cape Vineyard in Reading, Vt. on August 19, 2013. Makris planted the vineyard in 2010, but this year will be the first that it will produce in quantity. Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage
Jickling, Valley News Correspondent
Valley News Wednesday,
August 28, 2013
Makris’ newest aspiration in life is splayed over an acre and a quarter in
Reading, Vt.: 26 long rows of grapevines, winding along trellises and
stretching over the crest of the hill.
have grown full and heavy in bunches, a promising indication of the harvest
just weeks away.
A total of
875 vines make up Brick Cape Vineyard, a budding operation run by Makris and
her husband, Jeff MacKenzie.
wicker chair on the porch of her white cape, Makris recently gazed beyond the
lilac and hydrangea bushes, and across the narrow dirt road to the vineyard
beyond. Chimes quivered in a breeze that carried a hint of the chill of autumn.
will be 50 in October, has had a multiplicity of jobs and careers, working as a
birthing assistant, corporate administrator, a volunteer ski patrol and
homemaker, to name a few. Now she is employed as senior administrative
assistant for the biotech firm GlycoFi in Lebanon. In the evenings and on
weekends, she tends to her grapes.
By the end
of August, Makris will begin checking the grapes daily, using a refractometer
to test the sugar content for ripeness. The harvest will come soon after, a
spur-of-the-moment gathering of family and neighbors for a festive day of
picking grapes by hand, with food and music and wine in the afternoon.
This year, despite July’s rain and clouds,
Makris expects a yield of between 1,200 and 1,500 bottles of wine.
Yet even as
she hovered over the grapes like an overprotective mother, she added, “This is
a heck of a lot more work than I thought it would be.”
Massachusetts native, moved to Vermont in 1999 and began living in Reading
year-round in 2008. Not long after, she started attending grape-growing
workshops in New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and at Cornell University.
been a wine drinker, she said. “I’ve always thought, ‘Oh I’ll have a vineyard
sometime, but I’ll have to move to California and all that.’ ”
discovered that in the Northeast, growing grapes and making wine was not only
possible, but offered an industry full of potential. And with little experience
and relatively few growers in the field, it allowed for experimentation and a
two trains of thought about grape growing,” Makris said. “One guy told me,
‘just throw the darn things in the ground and see if they grow!’ Others say you
should systematically do all the soil adjustment and drainage and measuring the
weather and conditions before you even think about planting.”
a middle ground. In 2008, after attending her first grape-growing workshop, she
prepared and turned a 10-acre field across from her house, and began to keep a
thorough record of the sun, precipitation and temperature. She had her soil
tested and continued to learn all she could about the process, taking out
library books, and making connections with vineyard owners across the state.
In 2010, she
planted 32 rows of grapes, about 95 percent of the vines she has currently.
Makris grows eight varieties, both red and green grapes, many of which will
tolerate temperatures down to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Makris had started attending meetings at the Vermont Grape and Wine Council, an
organization founded to build collaboration between grape growers, educate the
public and promote Vermont’s wines.
which is run entirely by volunteers, holds tastings, advertises for its
members, and has lobbied to amend tasting and tax laws.
served as president for the first half of 2013, before Sara Granstrom, who
works at her father’s Lincoln Peak Vineyard and Winery in New Haven, Vt., took
over in June.
also serves as a resource for those hoping to get into the business. Even for
more experienced winemakers such as Granstrom, the sharing of information and
expertise is necessary for a more polished product. “Here at Lincoln Peak,
we’ve been doing this for 12 years and we’re still learning new things every
season,” Granstrom said. “It’s a constant effort.”
relatively speaking, the state’s wine industry is barely out of its infancy.
vineyard was established in Vermont in 1997, and since then, grape growing has
taken off, with around 20 wineries and many more vineyards of various sizes.
The development of new varieties of grapes spurred the growth: cold-hearty
hybrid grapes, the “grandchildren or sisters or children,” Makris explained, of
Europe’s Merlot and Chardonnay.
Brick Cape Vineyard’s first harvest, and despite a banner year, the birds got
to the grapes before Makris did. They made 100 bottles of wine — a batch of La
Crescent, some Marquette, a few bottles of Frontenac. If all goes as planned,
Makris hopes for more than 10 times that output this year.
and Granstrom emphasized their belief that the wine industry in Vermont is here
Peak Winery,” Granstrom said, “we’ve been really embraced by our community. A
lot of tourists coming through are excited to learn about and try these new
varieties. Almost everyone’s been interested.”
echoed the sentiment. “We as an industry are working toward 100 percent Vermont
grown, as local as possible. I’d add this to the list of things that Vermont
will be doing on a long-term basis.”
Cape Vineyard winery is a small room off to the side in their post-and-beam
barn, a clean-smelling space with a concrete floor. A metal grape crusher and
destemmer sits on a table and on the floor are several demijohns and a larger
fermentation tank. A shelf inside the door holds several glass carboys,
fermenting a deep, ruby marquette from last year.
thinking of naming it after the birds, she said, as a nod to the birds that
devoured much of the harvest.
On the wine
rack, just one bottle of the white La Crescent remained, the one unequivocal
success in the first batches.
Vineyard is not yet licensed to sell its wine commercially, though Makris hopes
to eventually market products to restaurants and stores locally. Before she
undertakes the meticulous documentation necessary to obtain a license, she
wants to refine her product, and become more established and confident as a winemaker.
young in our winemaking lives right now,” Makris said. “I’d like our wine to
reflect Vermont, and speak to the beauty of the place I live.”