An interesting statistic that I always throw out in my Introductory Wine Appreciation class is that wine is produced in every one of the fifty United States… I can’t say that I have actually had wine from all fifty states, but I’m close. Some would call it an affliction… the fact that everywhere I go, I seem to find wineries to visit. Who would have thought that on Memorial Day weekend in New Hampshire I would be tasting wine at a lovely little vineyard in the lakeside town of Gilford… next door to Laconia and Weir’s Beach. Yeah, that Laconia… And I’m happy to report that Stone Gate Vineyard (www.stonegatevineyard.com) is a real gem!
Owner and winemaker Peter Ellis was open for the first day of the season when we stopped by. Engaging and passionate, Peter explained that five years ago he and his wife started Stone Gate as a second career. With a total production of around five hundred cases, Stone Gate is committed to quality versus quantity, often selling out of their wines before the end of the season. The wines are made from primarily hybrids, with a tasty, winter-hardy Riesling a notable exception. A small amount of estate grown grapes go into production, with the balance of the wines made from fresh pressed juice sourced in the Finger Lakes region.
Peter’s winemaking style favors balanced wines with lively fruit, lovely aromas and crisp, refreshing palates. Among our favorites are the following:
- Vidal Blanc – Citrus nose, perfumed with a dry, crisp finish – nicely balanced with just a hint of residual sugar.
- Vignoles – Lemony with lovely bee’s wax and petrol hints – crisp and dry with a refreshing tartness.
- Cayuga – Fruity nose with apple and grapefruit – crisp with a pleasing sweetness.
- Riesling – Classic petrol nose with lemon, apple and apricot – very light with great balance and finesse.
- Steuben – Wild strawberry nose, fruity – clean, simple and easy drinking.
- Winnipesaukee White (100% Niagara) – Floral nose, perfumed with grape juice aromas – light, soft and slightly sweet – their best seller…
- Marechal Foch – Bright cherry nose with fresh herb and spice – medium-bodied with more cherry (added tannin to improve structure).
- Winnipesaukee Red (A blend of De Chaunac and Roujeon) – Spicy and wild with cherry notes – full-bodied with a long, pleasing finish – slight residual sugar calms the acid perfectly.
- Frontenac – Bright cherry nose – spicy with slight petulance (dissolved CO2) – herbaceous.
Definitely worth the trip and part of a fairly significant wine trail (NHWineryAssociation.com), had we more time we would have explored further… I know where we will be going on our next trip north of the border…