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.