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Thursday, September 30, 2010

The 2010 Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival

On a beautiful Fall day, we visited the 3rd annual Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival.  Here are some pictures and impressions of the day and this very enjoyable event, which you might want to visit next year!

This show is a collaboration between the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce and Vermont Life Magazine.  Somehow I missed the first year, but did manage to attend last year, and we had a great time tasting local wine and cheese in a tent nestled in a meadow.  
This year, the Festival has expanded and moved to the Mount Snow ski area, where there was plenty of room for the 60+ exhibitors, including 11 wineries, 5 cheesemakers, and other local purveyors of everything from peanut butter to pizza.

The Road to Mount Snow 

Getting from our house to Mount Snow is a bit of a hike, even if you don't make any wrong turns, but at this time of year, the roundabout route is actually preferable.  This drive took us through the lovely village of Grafton, a picture-perfect little town, and home of the Grafton Village Cheese Company, a sponsor of the Festival.  We stopped in front of the Old Tavern to consult the map.  

Continuing along, we came upon a farmer working his pulling team.  Quite a bit of weight in the back there (or junk in the trunk, as we say).  He gave the team the signal right after I took this picture, and they took off like a shot.

Finally, entering the Festival at the Mount Snow grounds, incoming visitors were very pleasantly serenaded.  This show has some of the best music around.

The Vermont Grape&Wine Council table had great information on the grape varieties that are willing to grow in Vermont, ably represented by Jeff and Christine McKenzie.  Their dedication to Vermont wine makers was readily apparent, and they were happy to answer all of our questions.  After talking to them, I really want to plant grapes here at Starrfields.

In the sponsor tent, friendly people from VPR and Vermont Life welcomed us.  Something golden glimmered off to my left, about 20 feet down the aisle.   I was drawn like a spaceship in a tractor beam to this cheese at the Grafton Village display:

It was of course Truckle, from Grafton Village, who was there with his friend, Clothbound Cheddar:

After chatting and sampling these delicious cheeses, we crossed the aisle to have a taste of Eden Ice Cider.  Cool and crisp, this is a perfect pairing with cheddar.

 Right next door, we found the enthusiastic crew at Montpelier-based North Branch Vineyards, who were very helpful and did a great job describing their wines.   I especially loved the 2009 Traminette and Seyval Blanc, so these just had to make the trip home with us.

 Boydon Valley Winery was there with a beautiful table, showcasing their very good red wines and terrific white wines, Seyval Blanc and Cowtipper.


The booth for Shelburne Vineyard was so crowded, we had to go back three times.  But I'm glad we did, to try their lovely wines.   How can you not love wines as colorful as a pack of crayons?

But these wines are also very good!  After sampling all of them a couple of times (just to make sure), we settled on the Cayuga White. 

This was all such hard work that we decided to break for lunch, and went to the object of my desire, Mach's fabulous copper-clad mobile outdoor pizza oven.  Oh my.  I gotta get me one of these.

Mach's pumpkin, apple, pepita, bacon, and gorgonzola pizza

But I digress.
After lunch, we visited  Honora Winery, staffed with perhaps the cheeriest people at the Festival.  It was great fun talking to them and sampling their very nice wines. 

Then there was the Mead.
I didn't know what to expect, but I thought that perhaps Mead was similar to molasses or treacle... and that was completely wrong.  Mead turns out to be more like a dry white wine, very pleasing indeed!  In my opinion, mead has suffered from the medieval-faire image that often surrounds it.  Too often, we associate mead with making your own sword, wearing leather culottes, or spending time at "encampments".

Not so with Artesano Meadery, which had a very attractive table, a nice clean bottle design, and of course great mead!  We bought a bottle....

Fortunately, peanut butter and crackers were placed close together.  First, Whitney Lamy of Castleton Crackers showed us all her crunchy offerings.  Then, Vermont Peanut Butter lured us in with tempting flavors like Good Karma and Mad River Mojo.  Probably goes well with Mead.....

Mother Myrick's had dessert covered, with Buttercrunch, a delectable chocolate-covered toffee, and Lemon Lu-lettes.  This provided me with my one regret from the Festival:  that I did not eat a Lemon Lu-lette.  Every time I look at the picture, I think about driving to Manchester on a Lu-lette mission.

Last, but definitely not least, was Snow Farm Vineyard, with a very professional tasting crew and a really great group of wines.  We had the full tasting, and found a couple of absolute favorites to take home:  the American Reisling, a well-balanced, crisp winner, and a surprise, the `07 Estate Vignoles, a rich, complex dessert wine.

Finally it was time to go home, laden with the most irresistible items.  I think that the Festival will continue to grow and attract people from a wide area.  See you there next year!   --Sue


  1. wow, gorgeous photos! the pizza oven caught my eye. We are in the midst of planning one for our Tuscan backyard makeover.......


  2. Wow, stunning images and lots of tasty treats. I missed this one (live in Southern Vermont). Next year!! Love the blog too, will become a daily read.


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