Furnace Brook Winery at Hilltop Orchards, Richmond, MA

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While out in Western Mass with our friend Bre, we visited Furnace Brook Winery, which is located at the Hilltop Orchard in Richmond, MA. This was actually a place Bre found and wanted to go to because they make their own cider as well as wine.

You can sample any 1 wine for free, or 5 wines for $5, so we all tried some different ones.

White Wines

Pinot Grigio – A crisp, golden white wine, slightly dry.

Riesling – Mark and Megan both liked this. Fruity but not too sweet, nice flavorful balance. We both skipped the Dry Riesling for this one.

Mead – A light, sweet mead with a very strong honey flavor. Honey sourced locally from Westfield, MA.

 

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 Red Wines

Shiraz Special Reserve – Peppery with hints of berry, dry but not overly dry.

Ruby Port – Mark really liked this, very tasty. Bre and Megan both thought it was sweet. It is wine, fortified with Brandy.

 

Sparkling

Blanc de Blancs – Bre tried this, slightly fruity, easy drinking.

Muscato – Very sweet, crisp, a bubbly muscato, Bre and Megan really liked this, we bought a bottle for Mark’s sister Michelle.

 

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Ciders

Johnny Mash Dry Gold – A very dry, but refreshingly clean cider. Made simple on purpose, goes well with anything, for day drinking we were told. Did we give off that vibe?

 

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Cidre Special Reserve – Light and a little sweeter than the Dry Gold, still dry. The apples were fermented whole, with the skins on, in stainless steel tanks, then aged in French Oak barrels.

 

Johnny Mash Hard Cider – Light, slightly sweet, minor oak notes, aged in American Oak, good cider, 6%.

 

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Ice Wine

Berkshire Winter Harvest Ice Wine – Sweet, tasty, a complex cider ice wine. They grind the apples and make juice (cider) they freeze the juice, then remove the nectar and ferment that. It takes about 45 apples per bottle.

 

Hilltop Orchards is one of the largest cider mills in New England. They make cider for lots of other places. They are proud to grow, pick, grind and mash, as well as ferment all their cider onsite.

 

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There are miles of trails on the farm, and they rent snow shoes and cross country ski’s. They get a lot of traffic during the winter, people coming to use the trails and then sample some wine or cider. There was not enough snow when we were there to take advantage of that. Maybe some day… we would definitely visit again if we are in the area.

 

They also use and integrated pest management system, IPM. This means they plan when to spray based on rain, wind, etc, they use the weather to their advantage to keep the apples and grapes and fresh and clean as possible.

 

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Of course we got some Cider Donuts before we left as well.

 

Hours

9:00 – 5:00 Daily, year round

 

 

 

 

 

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Bar Harbor Cellars, Bar Harbor, ME

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While on our trip to Bar Harbor with Amanda, we of course we had to stop at Bar Harbor Cellars Winery and Vineyard. They are located just outside the downtown area on Sweet Pea’s Farm. There is a nice, big shop and tasting room as well as a cafe.

 

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Most of their wine is made from grapes they purchase from Europe. They buy just the vintages that they like, so they are getting exactly what they want. The wines are styled after the area the grapes come from. They are sent to Italy and pressed to their specifications, then shipped to Quebec and down to Maine, being kept cold the whole time.

 

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Old fashioned press

 

They ferment with just the natural sugars from the grapes; they do not use any added sugars. They do grow some grapes on site, but not nearly as much as they need. Maine is not the most ideal place to grow grapes.

 

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Our tastings:

Riesling 2013
This was a fairly dry Riesling with a hint of sweetness, and a dry finish.

 

Gewurztraminer 2013
This was a little sweeter than the Riesling, but still fairly dry.

 

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Syrah 2013
This was a bit sweet, a little black cherry flavor. It was good, we all liked this. Would pair well with a bold cheese or chocolate.

 

Pinot Noir 2012
Amanda was the only one to taste this one. She really liked it, light enough for summer, but enough body for the winter, with a smooth taste.

 

Red Zinfandel 2013
Peppery, a real intense wine. Definitely made for having with a meal.

 

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Megan picking out some wine

 

Fruit & Sweet Grape Wines

Apple-Blend
We liked this, a sweet wine, but a good sweet, not overly sweet or sugary tasting, light in body, easy drinking.

 

Cranberry
Strong Cranberry taste, almost taste liked cranberry juice.

 

Black Curant-Apple
Made as a desert wine. 40% apple and 60% black currant. Complex for a fruit wine, lots of interesting flavors. Mark and Amanda liked this, told it goes well with spicy food.

 

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Apple-Raspberry
40% apple and 60% raspberry, Megan described it as jam like.

 

Icewine Cab. France
A rare, red ice wine, made with 2,000 – 3,000 grapes, in each bottle. Sweet, but a complex flavor. Really good, Mark tasted apricot, Megan said Fig, good either way, but more on the expensive side as it is an ice wine.

 

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They have a cool, rustic barn building with all sorts of local treats as well as all their wine for sale. The tasting bar is pretty big with plenty of room at the back of the barn.

 

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There were these really cool fountains outside made from old wine barrels. They are just outside Cafe entrance, which we did not have a chance to eat at.

 

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Megan and Amanda with their wine selections

 

 

Regular Hours

Opened Memorial Day to Columbus Day

10:00 am – 5:00 pm

 

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Our other stops along the way…

Bar Harbor Brewery only 1 mile away.

Tree Spirits Winery and Distillery in Oakland, ME

Dragonfly Winery in Stetson, ME

Oak Pond Brewing Company in Skowhegan, ME