6th Annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival at Mount Snow in Dover, Vermont

100_0734Last 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. 100_0741
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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. 100_0653  100_0646 We followed paddle-boating with a dinner cooked over the fire and watched the fire glow… 100_0654  100_0672 100_0684  100_0683  100_0682

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). 100_0717After 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.100_0718  100_0729

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:

We tried:

  • 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.

Our tasting:

  • 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 100_0722  100_0719  100_0721  100_0720

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, smooth100_0723

Vermont Distillers

  • 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.


100_0724 100_0761 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 Spirits

  • 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!

Shelburne Vineyard


  • 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.

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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.

Crowley Cheese

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 there100_0638 100_0730

Whetstone Ciderworks

Told us their ciders were as “dry as any other cider on the market” and “a food friendly product.”

Our tasting:

  • 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

Grandview Winery

Our tasting:

  • 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.


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Plymouth Bay Winery, Plymouth MA

We recently visited Plymouth Bay Winery, located in Plymouth, MA with my Dad.

The winery was a little difficult to find- it has the same address as Isaac’s Restaurant, but is located in a separate building, set in the back of the parking lot.
The winery is owned by a husband and wife team, Pam and Michael Carr. The Carr’s are foodies, who love making people happy. They took over the winery in 2011 from a friend.
Michael was very welcoming upon our arrival, as was the tasting area. Four stools were set up at the end of the counter, but they are able to expand and use the whole counter when they are busy. We were given two options for tasting- we could try four wines for free, or all of them for $5-6, with the purchase of a glass. We chose to try them all.
Our tasting was run by the owner, Michael . The only negative comment I had about this winery, was that the tasting interactions seemed very rehearsed. Any comments that we made felt as though they were brushed off for a good portion of the tasting. It seemed as if more conversation would ruin his train of thought. He gave very informed information  and it would have been the perfect amount of information if it was a busy time. Since we were the only customers at the time, we were trying to have a little bit more conversation and enjoy the wine as we went. They became more conversational as the tasting wore on, and after we were done tasting (sometimes it seems like because Mark and I look young, we aren’t taken as seriously…?) All in all though, we learned a little and enjoyed what we tried.
We were all pleasantly surprised by this winery. I tend to enjoy more sweet, fruit wines (Mark does as well). Luckily for us, the wines were all on the fruity side and all those listed with the word “bay” have fruit other than grape in them. This winery did not have a wine I disliked.
Widow’s Walk: made with the Cayuga grape (similar to Riesling). Had flavors of apple and pear, and was a delicious way to start the tasting. Smooth, with a great flavor. We bought a bottle to take home… well to take camping and consume that night!
Cranberry Blush: their top summer seller. Called “the pucker.” A semi-dry wine, blending cranberry and white grapes. Told it would also make a great spritzer by adding club soda and fresh limes. We also bought a bottle of this to take with us.
Drydock White: Made from the diamond grape, a cross between the Concord and Lona grape. This wine had soft citrus notes.
Blueberry Bay: A favorite for cabernet and merlot lovers. Was very smooth, and unexpected. This was the first Blueberry wine I have tried, and was pleasantly surprised by it. Very smooth and not too high in tannins (didn’t leave a dry feeling in your mouth). Recommended to serve over pineapple ice cubes.
Blackberry Bay: Light, smooth and easy to drink. Recommended to serve over lime-aid ice cubes; topped off with gin and tonic for a “Billionaire”; or to marinade peaches in for dessert.
Cherry Bay: Sweet bing cheeries. Recommended to serve over lemonade ice cubes with fresh mint for a “Plymouth Bay Bomb,” or with a shot of chocolate liqueur for a “Chocolate Covered Cherry.”
Colonial Red: made from the Concord grape. This fruity red wine is high in antioxidants. I felt it was a good red to share with friends that enjoy red wines.
Cranberry Bay: made from local Cranberries. Great wine to have for Thanksgiving. Recommended: add orange juice to create a “Plymouth Bay Kiss,” or apple cider and cinnamon for a “Plymouth Bay Toddy.”  We also tried Cranberry Bay blended with Cherry Bay, for a “wicked pissah sangria.” The blend worked well together.
Raspberry Bay: A true dessert wine. Great flavor. Recommended to serve over chocolate ice cream; with grilled fruit; cobblers, cheesecake, or coffee cake. Also recommended to add vodka and pineapple to it to create a “Sexy PBW Martini.”
The last items we tried were jellies. In total, we tried three. They typically only have you try two, but my Dad commented on one of them that it would be great on a pork loin (he was planning on making one that evening). Upon hearing this, , had us try one more-. It was perfect to use as an additional flavor on the meat.
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What to purchase was the difficult decision we had to make. All of the wines were delicious! My Dad bought the “Grape Rosemary Jelly”, and between Mark and I, we bought two bottles of wine- “Widow’s Walk” and “Cranberry Blush.”
Untitled5 Dad and I, with our purchases
Prior to leaving, the owners directed me to their recipe book, found here: www.plymouthbaywinery.com/pdfs/pairing.pdf
Some findings from the pairing book:


1 bottle CRANBERRY Bay

1 bottle CHERRY Bay

Mandarin Vodka to TASTE

1 apple, chopped

1 peach, chopped

1 orange, sliced

1 lemon, sliced

1 lime, sliced

Couple DASHES of ground cinnamon

Cherry Bay Bomb

Cherry Bay Wine

Chocolate liquor

Blend to taste with or without ice

Raspberry Bay-Chocolate Ice Cream in a Wine Glass

Raspberry Bay Wine well chilled

Chocolate Ice Cream

Fresh or Frozen raspberries

Wine Glasses

Fill each glass with a scoop of chocolate ice cream. Add fresh or frozen raspberries and top with RASPBERRY BAY wine until 2/3 full. Put in freezer/refrigerator for a few minutes to keep cold. Then bring out the glasses and let them rest a few minutes (letting the ice cream melt a bit), then have your guests drink down most of the RASPBERRY BAY wine and then give them a spoon to enjoy the melted pleasures of the chocolate and RASPBERRY BAY wine

Mmmmm… Might have to restock my supply! I’m getting thirsty!
The delicious ribs my Dad made that night, using the “Grape Rosemary Jelly.”