Saturday, September 19, 2009

Vermont’s Wine Future

Topic of Discussion with Grape Growers OCT 30

There is a lot of buzz going on in Vermont grape growing circles, albeit still a concentrically small circle, but nevertheless growing as it hums about a newly released cold hardy grape varietal. On Friday, October 30th, Vermont estate winemakers will speak about the future of Vermont wine at a special dinner to be held at Hemingway’s.

Derived from the University of Minnesota Horticultural Research Center, the hybrid vine, Marquette, has been planted by at least two Vermont wineries with excellent results in barrel and now in bottle.

Withstanding temperatures as low as -36° F Marquette brings a ray of sunshine to what used to be a cloudy Vermont wine future. Not only does it survive cold, but also it is disease resistant and makes a quality wine. Time, terroir, and wine making skills will eventually distinguish Vermont wines from each other and from the rest of the world.

There is also buzz about maintaining integrity in wine labeling in our small state. A recently formed Vermont Grape and Wine Council has become necessary for the 20 or so wineries that now exist from 25 years ago. Some members are pushing for self-regulatory guidelines mandating that grapes be grown in state if labels proffer Vermont wine. They contend that blending or sole use of viniferous grapes grown in warmer areas should be specified and in limited amounts. (Vitus vinifera grapes are common European varietals such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Pinot noir that have traditionally set the standard in producing excellent wines.)

Addressing this concern, Lincoln Peak Vineyard, for example, has this statement on their website about “Vermont wine, or ‘Vermont’ wine.

It's great to see the Vermont wine industry take off, but consumers should be aware that not all the wine that's sold by Vermont wineries is made from Vermont grapes. Some ‘Vermont’ wine isn't even made in Vermont. It's made in other states and simply bottled in Vermont. This wine may be perfectly delicious, and there may be situations where importing fruit is necessary -- when a new Vermont winery's own vineyard hasn't yet come into production, or when bad weather reduces the grape crop. But in the long run, I'm convinced that to gain identity and respect as a wine region, Vermont wineries need to grow and produce our own unique wines. As the largest grape grower in the state, I'm encouraging other Vermont wineries to produce the delicious wines that truly have the taste of our special place.

100% of the grapes in Lincoln Peak wine are grown here, and (barring weather disasters) always will be.”

We have held a series of harvest dinners at Hemingway's featuring local farmers since 1990, because we always enjoy educating the public to the pleasures of the table, and to the artful pairing of food and wine. Come taste, listen, learn, and enjoy with us!