As skills are wont to do, the production of fermented drinks fell away with the growth of cities and electricity, but the process is now making a comeback. The high sugar content of grapes, and their suitability for European growing conditions, made them de rigueur for wines around the world, but just about anything with enough sugar and water can be fermented and preserved. While grapes are finally being grown with success in Vermont, our lush soils and short growing season have long been better suited to fruits like apples, blueberries, rhubarb and raspberries, so it is no surprise that Vermont wineries started out with fruit.
Boyden Valley Winery in Cambridge launched using apples grown on their farm, but have since branched out to create a wide variety of grape, maple, and fruit wines. They continue to use their own apples—and blend in other Vermont apples—to make wines like their Vermont Maple (a light apple and maple wine), Gold Leaf (a barrel-aged dessert apple and maple wine), Vermont Ice Cider (a barrel-aged apple dessert wine), and Vermont Ice Apple Crème (a blend of Vermont Ice Apple Cider, apple brandy, and Vermont cream). They use Vermont-grown cranberries for their light, semi-dry Cranberry Wine, Boyden Farm rhubarb for their medium-body Rhubarb Wine, Vermont blueberries for port-like Blueberry Wine, and Vermont currants for their sweet Cassis dessert wine.
Charles Dodge of Putney Mountain Winery in Putney opened Putney Mountain Winery in 1998 with his wife, Kate. Their focus is entirely on fruit wines made from fruits grown in Vermont; the only fruit they buy from out of state are cranberries grown on a small family farm on Cape Cod. They have a sparkling apple wine—Heirloom Cuvee—an Apple Maple wine, and Vermont Cassis, all of which are available year round. Their seasonally available wines include two other sparkling apple wines, their Rhubarb wine, Cranberry wine, and Pear wine, as well as a Strawberry Rhubarb wine and a Blueberry Apple wine. All of their wines can be sampled in their tasting room at the Basketville store in Putney.
*Excerpted from “Thinking Outside the Bordeaux” by Claire Fitts, Vermont Local Banquet, Fall 2011.