Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mineral Hills Winery Ride

Had a chance to ride this morning to a delightful Northampton coffee visit with dear friends in town from Minneapolis. We were singing the praises of the Pioneer Valley, and later in the day, I got a little taste of why it's such a special place.

Another, more local friend wasn't available until 3 pm, so I lunched at the incomparable Green Bean and then saddled up for a quick visit to the hills of Florence. Up Spring Street, left on Chesterfield, and then left on a new road for me -- Sylvester. Very pretty little hills, and good climbing, but I had to return to town soon; hot coffee and a good friend were calling. Spied a sign reading, "Mineral Hills Winery and honey products, .8 mi." and decided that would be a good turnaround point.

As I pulled up, I saw a big "Open" flag on the porch, so, out of neighborly curiosity, I lifted my bike against a post so that I might see what was what inside. A man came hustling out of the fields to the right of the building and introduced himself as Larry Godard, co-owner of the place. Did I want to be shown around? When a guy as transparently nice as Larry asks to show you around his winery, there's only one right answer.

They've been there since '84, he said, and have grown from apples into bee-keeping and, most recently, wine-making -- very successfully, it seems. They're carried by many of the nicer local stores, and the only marketing so far has been word-of-mouth. The facility includes a pleasant store in front, and then the working portion of the farm in back:

Vats for making the wine

Casks for storing and aging

Out back, the farm runs to the ridgeline -- plenty of room for grapes, apples, and bees 

Mineral Hills, he explained, grows varieties of grapes suited to harsh New England weather (so different from the weather in the famous French regions where wine is made). Larry solicits new ideas from  universities throughout the States working on that niche of the agricultural arena. To round things out, he's making mead (wine from honey), which is another sleeper industry here in the Valley, and even apple wine -- an old-fashioned libation if ever there was one.

Wine tastings run Friday through Sunday, but December marks the end of the season, so go soon if you're interested. For lots more pictures, details on where to buy their product, and so on, swing by their Web site.

Get on a bike; tool around, and take a new road. In the Pioneer Valley, you'll almost always find something to delight you.

1 comment:

kris said...

No wonder you love where you live. Thanks for sharing a bit of what makes it such a special place.