In case you missed Part I of my day on the Massachusetts Wine and Cheese Trail, be sure to check out our visit to Ruggles Hill Creamery and Robinson Farm! Please also check out my newly created, work-in-progress Travel page which is full of travel information, photos, restaurant reviews, wineries, and more.
The second part of the fantastic day spent exploring Massachusetts food and wine was the main event, a celebration of the expansion of the trail and the addition of new farms and wineries. The kickoff event came at the perfect time for me to share with all of you; fall would be ideal for visiting some of these farms and wineries and taking in the splendor of New England foliage. (For ideas on visiting the Coastal Wine Trail this fall, check out this interview.)
We arrived at Hardwick Vineyard and Winery, checked in and started checking out the many tasting tables set up. Hardwick Vineyard and Winery is an absolutely beautiful property with a rustic inside, an expansive deck and stunning views. Vendors were set up inside and on the deck leaving lots of space for tasting, taking photos, and networking. I happen to love when events are set up with a good flow, and this one was nicely done.
This event also demonstrated something I love about farming culture; businesses support one another; if one does well and brings exposure to the wine and cheese trail, they all can benefit. Many people still have not tried Massachusetts wine, and I highly recommend getting out there and doing so. If you read this blog, you know I am a fan of a few Coastal Wine Trail vineyards, especially Travessia. Wine made in Massachusetts is not always made from locally grown grapes, especially reds, but several of the winemakers we met were using grapes they had grown while others were in the process of starting vineyards for future wine.
Many of the wines we tasted were made from grapes you may not have heard of, blends that included Cayuga white, Concord, Marechal Foch, Chambourcin, and Frontenac. I noticed throughout the tastings the focus being less on the grape and more on the terroir and blend, as it often is in Europe. These wines are different, but many of them are really good as long as you aren’t expecting them to be something they are not.
And luckily for us, there were plenty of different wines to taste. Along with Governor Patrick, we made our way through all of the tables.
So many tastes and conversations happened throughout the afternoon. Below are just a few of the highlights.
Amherst Farm chocolate raspberry wine paired with Chocolate Raspberry Diva Black Cocoa Hangover Cake provided a sweet, rich treat that would be the perfect winter evening indulgence.
Berkshire Blue blue cheese – I returned to the Berkshire Blue table multiple times to grab bites of this tangy, delicious handmade cheese made from the unpasteurized milk of Jersey cows. Berkshire Blue is available in several states in the US.
Eastleigh Farm cheese, especially the honey lavender, was amazing. I liked it so much they gave me a container to take home. Eastleigh Farm is located in Framingham, a very short drive from Boston. The woman I spoke with said that they are planning on events for the public, including a “meet the calves” event.
Ruggles Hill Creamery – After our tour, Tricia from Ruggles Hill went over to Hardwick Vineyards to set up her own tasting table. She kindly made me a little snack with a piece of baguette, salami, apricot jam and an ashed goat cheese, the perfect combination of salty, sweet, and creamy.
Mount Warner Vineyards, located in Hadley, Massachusetts, next to Amherst, my UMASS home, left me feeling nostalgic for my days in the Pioneer Valley. I loved speaking with the owners of this winery about their wine, UMASS, and the Valley. I also really liked their Hampshire White.
Hardwick Vineyards wine – Our hosts for the day had several really outstanding wines open on their tasting bar including their crisp Giles E. Warner dry white and their “summer in a bottle” Yankee Girl Blush.
Black Birch Vineyard was a favorite of the entire group I was with, from their beautifully designed labels to some stellar wines to the warmth and knowledge of the winemakers. The fact that they met at UMASS didn’t hurt either. What can I say? I loved my time there! I also really loved the Black Birch Riesling and a red I tried, I believe it was the Frontenac, that had a peppery finish that lasted for several minutes.
Rose 32 Bread provided us with apple squares to pair with the goat cheese during our visit to Ruggles Hill Creamery, and they had a table of delicious treats set up at the grand tasting at Hardwick Vineyards.
Hardwick Vineyards’ resident donkey provided us with entertainment as the afternoon wrapped up before we headed back to Boston with gift bags, complete with wine, in hand.
Meeting some of the great people who are hard at work in various areas of Massachusetts agriculture was inspiring. They are stewards of the land, artisans, scientists, hospitality professionals, and more. I hope with the expansion of the wine and cheese trail their work and products receive more recognition from around the state and around the world.
Many thanks to Connelly Partners, Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism, Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, Hardwick Vineyards, Ruggles Hill Creamery, Robinson Farm, and all of the other food and wine producers who helped to make this great day happen.
Happy Birthday to my sister!