I sometimes combine vacation with work- work for me is visiting wineries. During our recent family reunion week in Maine, I had the opportunity to visit 2 of the 23 Maine wineries. Actually there are more since the number only reflects members of the Maine Winery Guild.
Many people will find that amazing because 10 years ago, New England wineries were few and far between.
Our family reunion was in Vassalboro, between Augusta and Waterville. There were 29 of us scattered among 5 cottages. My son-in-law noticed that 2 miles from our lake (actually it’s called Webber Pond despite being 2 miles long) in the same town was a winery named Two Hogs Farm Winery.
On a sultry sunny July morning 5 of us tracked it down on a dirt road. Owner/winemaker Anne Dubé made her first wine in 2004 and started commercial production in 2012 with 30 lbs of blueberries. Although Anne does make a merlot, it’s from purchased New York grapes. All the other 12 wines are from fruit other than grapes.
Anne’s philosophy is to produce wines that “taste like the fruit.” And based on a tasting of 11 wines, I think she has accomplished her goal. All of the wines we tasted had a strong expression of the fruit, from the aroma to the taste. And what I particularly liked was that the wines were not cloyingly sweet, except for the dessert wine.
Anne has been able to balance the fruit sugars with a fair amount of acidity so the wines are crisp and refreshing.
My favorite was the Cranberry Blast, a dessert wine made from 100% Maine cranberries. She served it chilled with chocolates and it was a big hit with everyone.
My 2nd favorite was the Blueberry Wine, again made from 100% local fruit. She refers to it as medium dry but I found the residual sugar to be barely detectable.This would go very well with a meal, although a dessert of fresh blueberries and a glass of her wine would be mighty appealing.
Here are the other wines we tried: Merlot; Cranberry; Black Cherry;Vin au Framboise; Vin au Citron; Rhubarb; Apple Licious; Strawberry; and Pamplemousse (grapefruit).
We were also able to visit another winery called by many, including Anne, as the best in the state: Cellardoor Winery, with 3 locations all near Camden. Cellardoor produces wine from grapes and although they have a vineyard, most of the wine is from purchased grapes. I was able to taste 4 and they were outstanding, particularly the reds. I did buy a bottle of their sparkling wine which was a bit pricey at $40 but it has won some impressive awards.
Just as in my home state of Connecticut, you buy locally produced wines because of chauvinism, not because of price. The average cost of the 2 Hogs wines is $15 and although not excessive, it’s competing against wines from well-established areas.
Nevertheless I encourage all wine lovers to visit their local wineries and support them by buying a few bottles. Maine has a Wine Trail Passport that lists all the wineries with their addresses and contact info. I have a few hard copies and if you’d like me to mail you one, just let me know by sending an email to email@example.com. You can also view it online: www.mainewinetrail.com