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

 

 

 

 

 

Cape Cod Winery, East Falmouth MA

imageOn a rainy camping morning, my sister Sam mentioned that she wanted to do something, and then had the grand idea to go to either a winery or a brewery. Sam had recently turned 21, and had never been to a winery or a brewery. This  Since it was a Sunday, breweries in the area were closed, so we decided to go to the Cape Cod Winery. This was also the first visit to a winery for two others who went with us, my sisters Heather and Jessica. Andrea, a literally life-long friend (met when we were 3 years) had been to one winery previously.

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Andrea, Jessica, Heather, Samantha, Mark and I pulled up to Cape Cod Winery and could see all of the beautiful grape vines growing. The signage on the property directed you inside for a wine tasting.image (4)
When we walked inside, I was somewhat surprised at the size of tasting room. Although I have been to smaller tasting rooms, like that of Gilmanton Winery, I expected something more like Flag Hill’s tasting room due to the location. Cape Cod is a vacation land, and when it rains everyone looks for something to do. The winery was very busy, due to it sprinkling out, and we weren’t the only ones with the great idea of going to the winery. I was just a little surprised about the size of the tasting room.

image (13)The tasting was $5 per person and included a full sized wine glass.

We tried six wines:image (5)
Pinot Grigio: smooth, notes of apricot, hazelnut and pear. The grape skins are left on for this wine (like a red) for 24 hours to create a richer, fuller flavor and a golden color. Jessica thought it was good for a white wine. Andrea, Mark and  I would drink it, but it wasn’t amazing. Heather didn’t enjoy it, and Sam’s face spoke what words could not.
Nobska White: a blend of Seyval and Vidal grapes. Some tropical fruit highlights, but no where near the tropical fruit flavors you might get from a Cayuga. Andrea, Heather and I enjoyed this one more. Mark and Jess also enjoyed, with Mark commenting that it had notes of tart apples. Sam still didn’t enjoy this wine.
Nobska Cranberry Blush: Seyval white wine with a splash of cranberry. This wine sits for six months with whole fermented cranberries. Prior to trying this wine, I had assumed this would be a favorite- cranberry wines from southeastern Mass & the Cape are usually quite good. Jess, usually a cranberry fan, did not enjoy this one. It was too light in cranberry flavor. I thought it was the best I had tried at the time (and then the 2nd favorite of mine there). Mark, Heather, Sam and Andrea agreed.
Merlot/Cabernet Franc: 50% Merlot, 50% Cabernet Franc. Aged in oak barrels. Jessica really enjoyed this one (red wines are her favorite, especially merlot). Sam, Andrea and Heather tried it and then passed their pour on to Mark. Mark and I thought it wasn’t bad, but too dry for our tastes.
Nobska Red: was not available for tastings, as it was waiting to be bottled.
Regatta: sweet, with a slight (very slight) strawberry flavor. At this point, we were rushed to our next taste and I wasn’t really able to find out other’s opinions. Would have loved to learn more about this one, especially since it was not listed in their wine list pamphlet. I think it was a dessert wine??
Nobska Blue: mezzo dolce wine, a blend of blueberries and grapes. This was Heather’s favorite (mine as well, I went home with a bottle). Heather mentioned that it would be great with real blueberries as garnishment. If you are someone who likes their blueberry wine chilled, you could also freeze blueberries and use them as ice cubes! image (8)

image (6)Also available for tasting were two jellies. It was good, but seemed like a typical jelly

The Cape Cod Winery grows the majority of the grapes they use on their property- Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Grigio, Seyval, and Vidal Blanc. These are grapes most commonly found in southern France and northern Italy. Cape Cod Winery chooses to grow organically.

image (12)Pros:

organic

Local

Have a tasting notes/order sheet you can pick up

Offer $1 off a bottle for purchasing a tasting/glass

Offer other discounts (3-5 bottles, $3 off; 6-11 bottles, $8 off total; 12 bottles, $20 off)

Cons:

not a good winery to go to with people who are new to wine or wineries- not a good first impression of the way things work

not enough room to have a tasting unless you are the only people there (and this one I tried to hard to go with because I work in the industry!)

Not enough people working to learn about the wines (although he did a great job with making sure everyone was trying, we just didn’t learn anything)

Wine was expensive to purchase ($14-$17 per bottle)

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Want to go?

Summer Wine Tasting Hours are Wednesday through Sunday, June 26th through Labor Day 11-4 pm.

Fall Wine Tasting Hours are Saturday and Sunday, 11-4, through Christmas.

 
This winery was one that I am glad I went to so I can now cross it off my list, but not one that I would want to go to again.
My thing is that if you don’t like wine (or beer), it’s that you haven’t found one that you like yet and you should continue trying different ones. Hopefully, those that also went with me and didn’t find anything worth bringing home (I was the only one to buy a bottle) will try another winery with me again soon… Or maybe it will be a brewery next time 🙂