Furnace Brook Winery

Furnace Brook Winery is located at Hilltop Orchards in Richmond, MA and I almost missed the turn but relied on my GPS to direct me to the right place. Located in the Western part of the Berkshires with great views, Furnace Brook Winery sells not only their wines but other delectable treats such as scones, cider donuts (yum), jams, and of course, fruit pies. My favorite of the bunch were some pickled garlic. I for one, love raw garlic just to munch on with some provolone cheese and crackers but the pickled garlic was really great.

Many of their wines were/are medal winners at the Big E Northeast Wine Competition for 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010 and upon visiting them the first wine is free and then for $5 more you get to try five more wines. And of course they bottle the wines in the Big Red Barn in the picture above.

Here are the wines I ended up ordering:

Chardonnay Special Reserve – $16.99: A pale yellow color yielded a lot of pear, apple, and grapefruit aromas on the nose. I also got pear and grapefruit on the palate with an apricot finish. I really like this wine as I’m not a real fan of Chardonnays but this was one I’d like to have more of.

Dry Riesling – $16.99: Now a dry Riesling is something I am partial to. I think of most of the white wines, a dry Riesling is one I look forward to trying each time I open a bottle. On the nose were nuances of apple and pear with neither one overpowering the other, a nice balance between the two. I got pretty much the same on the palate with a good touch of acidity.

Mead: This wasn’t for sale when I visited them but they had it on the tasting menu. According to the tasting staff, this is made from an Ethiopian recipe that opens with fresh cut hay and sawdust on the nose with hints of honey. Honey and golden raisin flavors followed and although a bit too sweet for me it tasted good nonetheless.

Cabernet Sauvignon – $18.99: Black berries and cassis on the nose led into red and black cherries on the palate with a neat little mulberry finish. I liked this but not as much as some Cabernet Sauvignons from France, Italy, and California. I’m not knockin’ New England reds mind you, it’s just that we’ve got a ways to go yet to be of the same caliber as those I just mentioned. We do well with white wines through.

Sparkling Blanc de Blancs – $16.99: One of my favorite white wines are of the sparkling kind. This had visions of a Brut Champagne with a pear aroma and apple and pear flavors. This was very effervescent like a sparkling wine should be. Really liked this one.

French Cidre’ – $12.99: This had a bit of sparkle to it but not like a sparkling wine and again it had apple and pear aromas and flavors too. I really liked this but thought it was a bit over priced as most ciders I come across are under ten bucks.

Seeing as it was chilly when I visited this winery they had the indoor fireplace crackling for the tasters to get close to while sipping some of the wines. It was real warm entertainment and quite enjoyable on a chilly afternoon, but where else would you go on a chilly afternoon?

 

Mineral Hills Winery

I was able visit only two wineries on this wine trip and this was my second winery of the day. Mineral Hills Winery is located at Godard’s Red Hen Farm and the tasting room looks like a converted apple orchard building. If you look real close and just to the left of the “Open” flag you can see stacks of apples for sale.

But once inside the resemblance stops at the threshold and it opens into their tasting room with many of their products on display. They are members of the Hampden County Beekeepers Association as well as the Massachusetts Farm Winery Association.

When I arrived, one of the owners, Larry was in the back room of which I was able to visit (more on this later in this post).

The tasting fee was $5.10 (including the tax) for any five of their wines and I started my tasting with the following and Larry put out several cheeses for the tasting:

2010 Chardonnay: This opened with floral notes with fruity aromas. Distinctive apple and pear flavors followed.

Seyval Blanc: A white Rose that was slightly sweet with grapefruit on the palate.

Apple Wine: This fruit wine had the aroma and flavor of fresh apples on a dew drenched morn in the apple orchard early in the picking season. Can you see the apples falling from the tree?

Mead (honey wine): This had a nice honey aroma on the nose. Then I tried the honey that produced this mead and then another sip of the mead wine, wow! The first sip of wine was much different after tasting the honey and taking a second sip. And yes I did come home with a bottle of this wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon: Plenty of fruit on the nose, plum with nuances of earthiness. Plum and black cherry followed on the palate with a hint of mocha on the finish.

Then I tried the barrel tasting of his newest Cabernet Sauvignon and the tasting notes were very similar to the Cabernet Sauvignon and it had an even longer finish with subtle hints of vanilla which complemented the mocha. I can’t wait for this to get bottled in 2012. Note to self: get back to the winery for this wine:)

One of the most exciting aspects of getting to go into the back room is seeing the following…

Yes, these bottles represent the winemaker’s “experiments” and I found that Larry and Sue are very passionate about making wine, being in the wine industry, and learning about wine in general. They were easy to talk to and the four other tasters and I had a great time conversing with both of them in the back room.

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…