New Hampshire is famous for the first-in-the-nation presidential primary held every four years. Beyond this, New Hampshire is annually recognized as one of the most livable states in the country. The Granite State is also famous for its abundance of natural resources and beauty: cherished ocean, large lakes, cascading rivers, and tall mountains. The farm-to-table movement and the growth of domestic wine production are adding to the state’s appeal.
Wine making began in New Hampshire in the late 1960s with only one winery, White Mountain Vineyards. It wasn’t until the early ’90s that a trio of men opened three separate wineries, establishing that quality wines, even in cold weather conditions, could be produced in New Hampshire: Dr. Peter Oldack started Jewell Towne Vineyards, Frank Reinhold opened Flag Hill Winery on his family’s farm, and Bob Dabrowski established Candia Vineyards.
Wine production has tripled since the ’90s and today there are over two dozen producers of wine (both grape and other fruit-based), cider, or mead. They are offered in every imaginable style: still, sparkling, dry, semi-dry, rosé, and sweet. And there’s even a New Hampshire Winery Association (nhwineryassociation.com), founded by Oldack in 2006.
Most grapes grown in the state are French-American hybrids (the genetic crossing of two or more grapes) with a strong resistance to cold weather, including Cayuga, La Crescent, Marechal Foch, Seyval Blanc, St. Croix, and Vignoles. Niagara, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Riesling, and Zinfandel, along with other well-known grape varieties. Other grapes are sourced from California, New York, Europe, and South America. The fruit wines use locally grown apples, peaches, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, and cranberries. Wineries are spread throughout the state in various regions. The largest and oldest wineries are located in the Seacoast where the climate is milder, allowing tender grapes to thrive. The Merrimack River Valley, Lakes Region, Connecticut River Valley, and White Mountains host a diverse selection of wineries.
New Hampshire wines are sold within the state at a selection of local restaurants, wine retailers (including the state liquor outlets), and at the winery. Here is a list of wineries offering unique styles of wine to enjoy while traveling in New Hampshire.
A boutique winery situated on some of the oldest farmland in New Hampshire. Winner of many awards both national and worldwide. The forgotten grape, Diamond, also known as Moore’s Diamond, was brought back into production here. It makes a delightful wine with an intense aroma and a fruity off-dry style. The ice wine, Black Ice, is New Hampshire’s only world-ranked label.
Flag Hill Winery
The largest vineyard in the state, with beautiful grounds for picnics and long walks. A full-service winery featuring wines, port, and spirits that reflect the character of the area. An onsite restaurant serves seasonal foods that pair well with their wines. Just released, their first ever sparkling wine Sparkling Cayuga White tastes Prosecco-like fresh and crisp with good acidity.
Hermit Woods Winery
Formally White Mountain Vineyards, the first winery in New Hampshire. They produce barrel-aged vegan, gluten free, raw, and mostly organic wines that are dry, well balanced, and unique in a large variety of traditional and non-traditional styles. The Petite Blue featured on the Today Show has up to a pound of fresh blueberries in every bottle.
Jewell Towne Vineyards
South Hampton, jewelltownevineyards.com
A charming rustic setting on the shores of the Powwow River. The winery has received many accolades for its unique French-American hybrid grapes and for estate specialty wines. The Riesling is a favorite with floral aromas and touches of lime and orange. The Vidal ice-wine, a sweet desert wine, with hints of honey and apricot, pairs marvelously with local fruit pies.
A destination winery specializing in transforming local fruit into award winning wines. Grapes are picked at their peak, then pressed and fermented the same day, producing delicious fresh and balanced wines. The Americus is a tribute to the American dream, made from the Noiret grape and blended with Cabernet Franc. A restaurant, out-door patio with a custom built fire pit, and live music make this a popular place to visit.
Sweet Baby Vineyard
East Kingston, sweetbabyvineyard.com
Producers of hand-crafted quality wines from their own vineyards. The fruit wines are made from fruits from neighboring farms. The award-winning Marechal Foch is a medium-bodied red that is semi-dry with soft tannins and touches of ripe blackberry.
Walpole Mountain View Winery at Barnett Hill Vineyard
Family owned and operated with a strong sense of place, their terroir producing philosophy uses only home-grown grapes and fruit from their land. They make over 30 varieties of wine from French-American hybrid varieties including reds, whites, and rosés, ranging from dry to sweet, including a late harvest dessert wine. The winery location boasts stunning views of mountains and sunsets for relaxing and sipping wine.
An authentic Tuscan style winery with a long list of exceptional wines. Their wines are made from grapes grown on 80 acres of land in the center of a hardwood forest, as well as grapes sourced from California, Italy, Chile, and other regions throughout the world. A tasty summer wine, Mango Magnifico, is made from a mango and Moscato blend.
TRAVEL NEW HAMPSHIRE
A hip and thriving Seacoast anchored by Portsmouth (filled with more restaurant seats than the city’s population) is the gateway to picture-perfect pastures, rustic farms, valleys, and hillsides that are filled with grape vineyards, apple orchards, and berry fields.
Wine and cheese is a match made in heaven. Sample award-winning grape and fruit wines at local wineries and taste delicious fresh cheeses at local dairy farms. Meet the vintners and farmers who supply local markets and you will appreciate their passion. New Hampshire is committed to the Farm to Restaurant Connection (nhfarmtorestaurant.com), a collaboration between growers, producers, and chefs. Choose one of the many restaurants to wine and dine and enjoy a large variety of mouth-watering dishes. Take time to shop at farmers’ markets or general stores where you will find local products while savoring beautiful scenery, history, and great food. Stay at a unique B&B or a renowned inn, resting up for a new day of adventure. Swimming, surfing, biking, boating, camping, hiking, skiing, and more are all nearby.
Travel along the coast, throughout the valleys, around the lakes, and up the highest mountain in the Northeast, Mount Washington. Enjoy!