Vermont Wines, Not an Oxymoron

Frontenac, Marquette and La Crescent are not French Canadian explorers but grape varieties developed in Minnesota and Quebec to produce quality wines in Vermont’s climate. Yes, they do make wines in Vermont. And some of them are pretty darned good.

If you want to find out more about Vermont wines, join me and Sean Buchanan, Executive Chef of Stowe Mountain Lodge at the Vermont Cheese Makers Festival at Shelburne Farms on Sunday, July 24. We’ll guide you through a tasting of Vermont’s exciting new wines and the foods that go with them.

I’ve had a preview of some Vermont wines and my reactions have ranged from being pleasantly surprised to being downright impressed. Boyden Valley Winery Big Barn Red is a nonvintage Frontenac that reminds me of aCabernet Franc. A 2009 white wine from Lincoln Peak made from the La Crescent grape had nice floral qualities and good acidity.

Vermont winemakers do an even better job with more familiar hybrids like Seyval Blanc and Vidal Blanc (a cross between Seyval Blanc and Ugni Blanc). At dinner this past weekend, I shared a bottle of Snow Farm Vineyard Seyval Blanc with friends. My friend Howard said, “I like this better than Sauvignon Blanc.” He was referring in particular to the wine’s crisp, lean and mineral qualities that he preferred to some of the in-your-face grapefruit or cat’s pee Sauvignon Blancs. With dessert we had 2008 Snow Farm Vineyard Vidal Blanc Ice Wine, which was beautifully balanced with lovely apricot flavors.

There are still tickets left for my seminar, which is from 3 to 4 pm, as well as earlier seminars on beer and aged cheddar and cheese and charcuterie. For information and tickets, go to or call 800.884.6287.

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