Last weekend, Mark and I went to Vermont for the 6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival, located at Mount Snow in Dover, Vermont.
We played tourists for the weekend, visited a couple of breweries and a winery, saw the beginning of fall foliage and went camping.
We started our weekend early, heading over Friday morning. We arrived around 1pm, and started our weekend off with a quick chat and tasting at Northshire Brewing. Look here next week for a review and photos! We followed the beer with more beer (and lunch) at Madison Brewing Company, a brewpub. Look here next week for a review and photos!
We then checked into the campground, and went out on the pond for a little bit. We followed paddle-boating with a dinner cooked over the fire and watched the fire glow…
The next morning, Saturday, was the day of the 6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival. After making a quick breakfast of bagels toasted over the fire, we set off for a fun and alcohol filled day.
When we arrived at Mount Snow, we (at first) went the wrong way. Although our GPS was giving us the correct directions, even once we were on the Mount Snow property, we tried to follow the signs to determine where to park. Unfortunately, it was a breezy day, and some of the signs had turned around, misdirecting us. Luckily, the hotel valet directed us the correct way (as our GPS had been telling us to do haha). After we found parking, we checked in and proceeded to have our IDs checked. After receiving our “over 21” bracelets and a stamp stating we had paid, we proceeded to get our wine glasses, grab bags and 3 tasting tickets a piece.
We decided to walk around the two large tents before really stopping to taste anything. There were wineries, cider, cheese farms, and distilleries, places sampling jam, pickles and candy…
Oh, a note on the tastes. Each taste cost 1 ticket. A size of a taste varied table to table, some saying it was 1 ticket per pour, others 1 for all they were offering, and others, 2 tickets for all that they were offering. We were not able to try all of the wineries, but were able to try most and didn’t spend too too much on extra tickets (about $13).
Many of our stops at the festival:
Grafton Village Cheese:
- 3 year cheddar (bought)
- 5 year cheddar
- Maple Smoked Cheddar (very dry, but good!)
- Leyden- English style cheese. Really good!
All of their cheese was very delicious! Would have loved to go home with more- will look into buying at least another block next time we are in Vermont. One of the really great things about the Grafton Village Cheese table, besides all of the delicious cheese, is that although this was one of the first tables we went to, they remembered us at the end of our day, when we went back to make a purchase. Something as small as that gesture of remembering really helps make a difference.
Newhall Maple Syrup:
Woodfired, grade A maple syrup
Really good, nice, sweet and thick
Newhall also made a cider, and had it paired with two other small orchards for a tasting:
we tried them in the following order, from lowest to highest in both alcohol and acidity
- Windfall Orchards Ice Cider- 30 different varieties of apples go into the making of. 9% ABV. Great with dessert or cheese
- Eden Heirloom Blend-10 different varieties of apples, 10% ABV. Goes well with dried meats
- Newhall Ice Cider-Won a double gold metal. 12% ABV.
We both liked all three, for different reasons. Each one was unique.
Caledonia Spirits and Winery
All products are made from honey
I was very excited about this brand, due in part to the “Barr” name of two of their products.
- Barr Hill Vodka- not harsh, slight honey flavor
- Barr Hill Gin- honey more powerful here. A sipping gin. Although I am not a gin drinker, i enjoyed this.
- Elderberry Cordial- really good! Would be great as an after dinner drink or mixed with Prosecco
Whistlepig Straight Rye Whiskey
100 proof. Highest rated whiskey, 96 points. Good taste, but pricey. I found out after the festival that Whistlepig is not made in Vemont as we were made to think (all the others were Vermont made). I was disappointed in this. I did, however, find out that the distiller who makes this used to work for Maker’s Mark, which could be why I enjoyed it.
Vermont Farmstead Cheese Company
- Lille- thicker than Brie. Really good! Great flavor
- Governor’s Cheddar- good, dry cheddar
Mad River Distillers
- Maple Finish Rum- tastes like whiskey to me (which in later discussions with a distiller I know, I found was actually the oak barrel taste that I associate with whiskey). The maple syrup is aged in bourbon barrels.Good flavor
- First Run Rum- good mixer
- Chocolate Rye- nice, spiced, smooth
- Metcalf’s Raspberry Liqueur- good, tastes like raspberry jam. Would be great added to other drinks, or even a splash in sprite
- Metcalf’s Vermont Maple Liqueur- Really good. Mark said it could be his new skiing coffee mixer.
We stopped by their tasting room at Hogback Mountain Scenic Overlook on the ride home, but they were not present. We assumed their staff was at the festival.
- Vermont Gold Vodka- not too much of a burn. Distilled from maple syrup.
- No 14 Bourbon Whiskey- Mark really liked; they suggested adding water to a glass of whiskey to make the flavors open up
Mother Myrik’s Confectionary
Had their Buttercrunch to sample. Really delicious! It is handmade and made with Cabot Creamery butter.
Saxtons River Distillery
- Vermont Maple Liqueur- good, although somewhat harsh going down
- Vermont Maple Bourbon Whiskey- Mark tried, he said it was good, but “weird” because the maple flavor is different
- Perc Coffee Liqueur- tastes just like coffee
Comment made by Mark:
“There’s a lot of maple and cider stuff in Vermont.”
Everywhere we looked, there was maple flavored stuff or cider!
- Louise Swenson- driest of the whites. Not too dry, it had a nice pucker to it
- Riesling- Mark “that’s good.” Me- dry Riesling, not typical for me.
- Lakeview White- semidry blend
- Marquette- dry red. Hybrid grape with pinot noir. I actually liked this one, which surprised me. Mark also enjoyed.
- Harvest Widows Revenge- semisweet red. Best served chilled. Mark and I really enjoyed.
North Branch Vineyard
- Frontenac Gris- dry white. Nice flavor to it, white peach and citrus. Liked it!
- Miss Maeve- red raspberries. Not strong raspberry flavor, dry rose. Not sweet like you would expect.
- Traminette- semidry. Similar to a dry Riesling. Rose petal and grapefruit. Mark liked.
- Lacrescent- semisweet. Intense sweet apricot. Liked it, it is a different flavor
- Marquette- oaked. Dry, black pepper and cherries. Like it, sweet, although it doesn’t intend to be.
- Marechal Foch- dry blackberries. We both actually enjoyed this wine, although we tend to not like dry wines (guess our tastes are changing!)
Comment by Mark:
“I think we’re spoiled by Lukes.”
Lukes Liquors, located on the South Shore of Massachusetts in Rockland, hosting a wine tasting twice a year. The cost is $5, and for that price you get a wine glass, booklet, pen, small bites, and the opportunity to taste more than 100 different wineries.
Fresh Tracks Farm
We had to pick 3 each to try
- American White- Mark tried, it was alright
- Vermont Rose- I tried, it was ok
- Vermont Apple Wine- semidry, juicy apple juice front. Refreshing finish. Good apple wine- you don’t see many apple wines that aren’t ice wines, so it makes it to be a more affordable way to enjoy
- 2011 La Crescent- Mark enjoyed, and later went back for a larger sample (1 ticket for a larger pour)
- 2011 Frontenac Gris- I tried and really enjoyed. Good amount of sweetness. I went back for a larger sample later.
Had to try this cheese due to it being a family name.
- Unusually Sharp- soooo good!
- Chive- really good!
Yum! Understood the high prices, but would have purchased if it were less expensive for what they had left when we got there
Told us their ciders were as “dry as any other cider on the market” and “a food friendly product.”
- Orchard Queen- dry, crisp, refreshing
- Barnyard Blend- more rustic, English Farmhouse style. I enjoyed this one more than the Orchard Queen
- Orchard King- most carbonated of all. Mark enjoyed
- Whetstone Reserve- a different flavor. Mark enjoyed
- Pear Wine- Eastern States Wine Convention “double gold” and “best in show.” We both thought it was really good
- Cranberry Wine- Ok, have had other cranberry wines that I have enjoyed more (such as those from Plymouth MA!)
- Mac Jack Hard Cider- fresh grown Vermont apples, carbonated
- Strawberry Rhubarb- nose picks up strawberry, then mouth picks up rhubarb
- Raspberry Apple Wine- great nose. Nice and refreshing. Great combination. This is the bottle we left with, which was enjoyed with our Grafton Village 3 year Cheddar Cheese by the campfire.
On Sunday, we packed up and set off towards home mid-morning, making a stop on the way at Honora Winery. Look for that post soon!
Want to go to the 7th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival? Look here for more information as the time gets closer.
Due to the nature of our visit (it being a festival), there is not a huge amount of detail for many of the wineries. Since it was a festival, they are all still on our list to visit.