Written by Jennifer Rose Smith Published in Vermont's Local Banquet Do you know a cooper? It’s a query likely to produce confusion, as Caledonia Spirits’ founder Todd Hardie learned by putting the question to just about everyone. “For most of a year, each time I met someone, I’d say ‘Hello, do you…
Despite Vermont’s small size, its breweries, distilleries, and wineries are demonstrating national leadership in fast growing segments of the alcohol beverage industry: craft beer, hard cider, ice cider, craft spirits, and boutique wine.
As the farm-to-glass movement grows, Vermont’s cideries, distilleries, and wineries are using a growing list of local ingredients, including apples, berries, grains, milk whey, vegetables, maple sap and syrup, honey, and grapes. Vermont is well-known for apple production and Vermont hard cider is an increasingly important value-added product that is winning awards and bringing more dollars by volume for “second-rate” apples that are being pressed into crisp bubbly drinks. Vermont’s craft distilled spirits are using numerous local ingredients and gaining national recognition for superior quality. With at least 16 distilleries now operating in Vermont, the state is experiencing a “modern distilling revival,” leading Seven Days food writer Corin Hirsch to recently claim, “Within a decade, Vermont may well be known as a craft-distilling epicenter.”
Growing grapes continues to present a significant challenge for wine production in the Northeast region: cold winters, a short growing season, and disease and other pest pressures throughout the plants’ lifespan are more of a problem here than in places like California, where the majority of U.S. wine grapes are grown. But researchers are beginning to establish varieties that best match northern climes, and the trial-and-error experience of Vermont’s earliest wineries have begun to identify the cold-hardy varieties that grow well here while also producing quality wine.
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,…
1. Viticulture + Wine
- James Travis, Use of Compost in Grapes for Improving Vine Health and Soils, Northeast SARE, 2003.
- Chrislyn A. Patricka and Timothy E. Martinson, “Year 1 Progress Report: September 2011 – September 2012,” Northern Grapes Project, November 2011.
2. Distillation + Spirits
- Lynn Grieger, “Artisan Distilled Spirits Add Kick to States Bounty,” Edible Green Mountains, February 11, 2013.
- Tracy Medeiros, “Something to Whistle About,” Edible Green Mountains, February 11, 2013.