Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Still River Winery (MA) Fine Apple Wine...and a Nice Boat Too!

First things first. Still River Winery is located in a suburban section of Harvard, Massachusetts. We almost missed it. The sign is small, and we had to search it out for a few minutes before we realized we were at the right place. On the other hand, biy were we happy we went, It was worth the trip.

Margot & Wade Holtzman welcome visitors to Still River Winery. It's a special spot up among the apple orchards in Harvard, MA. It's one of  the nation’s finest apple growing regions. Still River Winery is a warm and welcoming home-based winery located 25 miles west-northwest of Boston in the heart of scenic Harvard, MA. Harvard is known for its many historic farmhouses, picturesque New England town common, stone walls, hard working apple farms and the village of Still River with its stunning western vistas.

I arrived at the winery with friends Steve Casscles (winemaker at Hudson-Chatham) as well as friends Rich Srsich, Bill Rotondi, and MaryBeth Robinson-Morello. To get to the winery, you need to pass through Wade's wood working shop. He's building a wooden boat by hand!!!! It's really a beautiful thing to see. 

According to Wade, “Our tours are a relaxed and engaging experience, giving guests the opportunity to learn how a small batch, specialized winery operates. It doesn’t matter if you’re a connoisseur looking to round out your wine collection, or a novice curious to learn what ice wines are all about, everyone has a great time visiting Still River Winery.”  And that was very true. The tou is small, simple, and with Wade, fascinating.

Icewine from apples? Wade explains:

"Traditional ice wine, also known as Eiswein, is made from grapes that have remained on the vine past the first frost. When the grapes freeze, the frozen water crystals separate out, resulting in a more concentrated juice. This resultant juice now has more sugar, acid and flavor. Fermentation of this concentrated juice produces a deliciously sweet wine. Ice wines tend to be expensive due to their labor intensive production process and relatively low output.

In 1990, Christian Barthomeuf, a French winemaker who had emigrated to Quebec, substituted apples for grapes to make what the Quebecois call “cidre de glace”, or ice cider. Barthomeuf reasoned that the apple was more at home on Canadian soil than the grape, and set out to create a superior ice wine product from apples."

Wade was a wonderful host. He was affabe, charming, funny, and extremey friendly as well as very sharing as to how he made his wine.
Still River Winery’s apple ice wine is called Apfel Eis. It is made from a blend of apple varieties grown locally at Massachusetts orchards. Wade is sure to make note that "unlike most wines and ciders made from apples, Apfel Eis has absolutely no sugar added during fermentation."

OK. So how does it taste? Fantastic!!! The nose is a combination of fresh, sweet apples and the home-iness of lovely baked apples, that come right out of the bottle! The wine is think and unctuous, just like an ice wine should be. But the taste is amazing. The fresh and baked apples come through Beautifully. Sweet, with hints of honey, apricot, and tangerine. But the beautiful part is that the wine is also tart. So the finish is exceedingly clean....not cloying,. It is absolutely fabulous dessert wine!

Rich, MaryBeth, Bill, and Steve

Wade and Margot have been regulars at the annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. Wade reported from the 2015 fest: "During the festival, Wade and Margot gave a series of wine seminars, educating visitors on the process of making Apfel Eis, their Massachusetts Apple Ice Wine. Lecture rooms were filled with eager listeners and those wanting to sample the signature cocktails we custom created for this event. These specialty drinks included Apple Ice Wine Spritzer (made by marinating fruit in Apfel Eis and combining that fruit with more wine & lemon seltzer) and a Caramel Apple Cocktail (Apfel Eis with caramel vodka, served in a glass rimmed with brown sugar)." Apfel Eis can be found aboard the Disney Cruise lines wine list!

Steve and Wade discuss winemaking.

We were all bummed, because there was not applewood ale to be had. This was only a sample bottle with no actual beer in it! According to the website: "Wade Holtzman, owner and winemaker, has been brewing beer for friends and family long before he started making Apfel Eis. He tried many recipes using various malted barley and wheat grains, as well as experimenting with assorted types of yeast.

Last fall he was finally satisfied with Recipe #26 – an ale with a notably smoky flavor, distinct hop bitterness, and a delicate sweetness delivered from the apple taste in the background. We named it Applewood Ale because Wade uses malted barley smoked with our apple wood, the apple water remaining after the freezing and thawing we use to make our ice wine, as well as cascade hops we grow in our hop yard.

The delicious result is farm-style Rauchbier ale and 6% abv.  This beer is absolutely fantastic served with ribs, barbecued chicken, smoked salmon, Roquefort or blue cheese."

There is no question that we will be making our way back to Wade and Still River Winery. The ice wine is fantastic, and we're all still curious about the beer!!!!

Great stuff Wade!!!!