In the Green Mountain State, our vineyards produce fruit wines like apple and peach. That, combined with the cold-hardy grapes, have allowed high-quality grapes to grow in colder states like Vermont. With that, Vermont winery landscape has become quite vibrant. So hop on the wine trail and explore some of the very best wineries in Vermont.
The Boyden family purchased 800 acres is 1914, and, with only 28 head of dairy cows, the story of Boyden Farm began. Now, the fourth generation continues to farm the land with beef cattle, organic corn, and a 10,000 tap sugarbush. Using winter-hardy hybrid grapes from the University of Minnesota, the family planted their first vines in 1996. Later, they would combine their own ice cider with brandy and cream liquor to form the award-winning Vermont Ice Maple Cream Liqueur.
Ken Albert planted grapes in his backyard while working as an engineer at IBM, and, later, he leased three acres of land from Shelburne Farms to begin his commercial vineyard venture in the 90s. His goal was to prove that winemaking in Vermont could be a financial success. Utilizing the cold-hardy hybrid, Marquette, Albert and his partners filled their newly purchased plot with vines and waited. Today, 17 acres of grapes are still mostly Marquette, and some Riesling and Vidal Blanc round out the varietals for good measure.
Snow Farm Winery and Vineyard began as a way to preserve Vermont’s agricultural land for farmers. The comparatively mild climate of the island situated in Lake Champlain allows for growth of vinifera grapes like pinot noir and Riesling, but more cold hardy varieties are grown here as well. Snow Farm has been making wines for a while but it is most known for producing the ever-popular ice wines, which the Wine Spectator named in their 2009 Editor’s Choice Edition.
Established on farmland dating back to 1775, Whaleback Vineyard and Winery offers Vermont wines including roses, reds, and apple blends. Sandwiched between the bucolic Green Mountains and the tranquil waters of Lake St. Catherine, Whaleback Vineyard cultivates over 6,000 vines across nine acres of land, including varietals that comprise their wine offerings: St. Croix, Marquette, Frontenac, Vermont Ruby Red, Frontenac Gris- Rosé, and La Crescent.
Established in 2007 in the small basement of a home along the North Branch River, it all began with a small purchase of Frontenac Gris varietals, a small pump, and seven 25-gallon tanks. Selling out of the 2007 vintage in the same year, the winery more than doubled their output in 2008. Today, North Branch produces roughly 12,000 bottles annually, and has added a rosé, La Crescent, Marquette, and Vidal Blanc to their lineup of small-batch craft wines.
A newcomer to the Vermont wine scene, Deirdre Heekin opened La Garagista Winery at her 200-year-old farmstead in 2010. Located on the notoriously rocky but vista-rich Mount Hunger, her winery is operated according to the principles of the rich farming heritage of the surrounding area. Heekin grows vegetables, fruits, flowers, herbs, and grapes for her restaurant and winery, making the horticulture as harmonious as the wine blends.
Apple maple, rhubarb, pear, northern spy, heirloom cuvee, rhubarb blush, blueberry, cranberry, and peach round out the offering from this fruit winery. The Dodges started crafting wines in the 1990s when Charles, a then professor of music at Dartmouth College, became interested in stories of home brewing from overheard classroom chatter. He began experimenting at home with his own fruit trees, and now makes high quality fruit wines and sparkling grape juice.
Honey wine, otherwise known as mead—the oft guzzled drink of Medieval yore— is actually anything but sweet. And it is old. According to many historians, collecting and fermenting wild honey certainly predates cultivating grapes or grains. Thus, Artesano’s goal is as much to educate as it is to produce this fresh, floral, light beverage. Established in 2008 by Mark Simakaski, Artesano features dry, high-alcohol mead offerings, like poets barrel aged mead, essence dry mead, blueberry mead, and blackberry mead.
This five-star Diamond Award-winning winery and vineyard can be described as “Tuscany in a Vermont vineyard,” according to their site. The vineyard offers over 200 acres of stunning space. Starting in 1994, Honora is also a spot for special events like weddings and other ceremonies with its Napa-style event space. The picturesque Vermont winery offers immaculate views of the Green Mountain State paired with wines such as stained chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, and petite sirah.
Located between Rutland and Middlebury, Brandon’s Otter Valley Winery is a cozy place to sip on some of the finest wine. Featuring everything from St. Croix to La Crescent, Otter Valley states “farming grapes is both science and art, with gray areas of interpretation in each, and our goal is to shepherd the fruit to its greatest expression using the tools of both.”