New Hampshire is home to more than a dozen wineries and more are being added every year. Oenophiles everywhere now realize that good wines can come from unexpected places.
Our tour takes you to four southern New Hampshire wineries within a couple hours of downtown Boston. That leaves plenty of time to wander estates, tour production rooms, meet vintners, and of course – taste the wine.
ZORVINO VINEYARDS, SANDOWN
New Hampshire, with its cool climate, does not have a long history of growing wine grapes. Many of the vines now producing grapes for New Hampshire wines weren’t planted until the 1990s, so many wineries import grapes to supplement their own harvests. They also make wines from other local fruits including peaches, blueberries, apples, and cranberries.
Zorvino Vineyards is one such winery. It is the first stop on our tour and lies in the town of Sandown, about an hour’s drive north of Boston.
While some Zorvino wines are made from grapes grown on its own 80-acre estate, grapes are also sourced from Chile, California, and elsewhere for the 8 white and 12 red wines it produces including an award-winning Merlot. The winery also produces 9 fruit wines.
Complimentary tastings are offered from noon to 5:00 p.m. daily.
CANDIA VINEYARDS, CANDIA
Forty minutes farther north in the town of Candia are the Candia Vineyards. One of the smallest vineyards in the country, Candia’s wines have won awards in national, international and New England competitions.
Candia was the first to grow the cold-hearty grapes used to make its Noiret, a red that has won more awards worldwide than any other wine made from that variety.
Wines from Candia Vineyards took more awards at both the 2007 and 2008 Eastern States competition than those of any other winery.
Tours of Candia Vineyards are by appointment by calling (603) 867-9751.
FLAG HILL WINERY AND DISTILLERY, LEE
Less than a half hour to the east, in the town of Lee, is the Flagg Hill Winery and Distillery.
The winery began production in 1996, producing five hundred cases of wine from grapes grown on site. Now, Flag Hill produces between 1,500 and 3,000 cases per year, all from its own grapes.
The Marechal Foch and the Seyval Blanc are popular favorites. Flag Hill also produces port and a wide variety of fruit wines including one made from blueberries, also in the style of port.
Flag Hill is also a distillery producing brandies, liqueurs, and its own brand of vodka.
Tastings are offered Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
JEWELL TOWNE VINEYARDS, SOUTH HAMPTON
Heading back towards Boston we come, finally, to the Jewell Towne Vineyards in South Hampton.
This is New Hampshire’s oldest and most decorated winery. Jewell Towne Vineyards produces a number of reds and whites from locally grown grapes; and these wines have earned more than 100 medals in international competitions.
Among the gems is a Valvin Muscat that was rated ‘excellent’ by a panel of expert tasters in a 2008 Time Magazine article.
Complimentary tours and tastings are held from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The drive from the Jewell Towne Vineyards back to Boston is less than an hour. Spend the time deciding when you will return to tour New Hampshire’s other wineries.