Sunday, September 9, 2012

Welcome to Nashoba! Would you like to do a wine tasting?

Well, here's a little bit of news: I got a job! Don't get too excited, it's a part-time job and it doesn't pay well at all, but it's super duper fun. I work at the tasting bar at Nashoba Valley Winery, and soon I will also be a tour guide (side note: I apparently say "tour" funny.  I say it "too-er". This was brought to my attention last weekend by two girls who thought perhaps I was Canadian).

What do I do? Why, I serve people wine. We do tastings every day, and you can sample any of our many fruit and grape wines, spirits and beers. I also apparently have morphed into the bartender-psychologist (seriously, that was NOT in my job description). This aspect is awkward and uncomfortable thus far so I try to avoid it when possible, and steer conversation towards our wines.
this is where I hang out on the weekends, ready to pour!

Nashoba has many award-winning wines, I like our little display near the big tasting bar

Nashoba started out as an apple orchard, and was purchased by a home wine maker in the late 1970s. We have a lot of heirloom apple varieties you don't really hear about (ask me what they are in a few weeks, though!) and we therefore make several apple wines. My favorite of the apple wines are the Cyser (a honey apple wine) and Chrystleton (an apple and elderberry wine).

We currently grow St Croix, Cabernet Franc, Lemberger and Vignoles grapes, and we're planting more. Our St Croix and Vignoles are our estate wines- one of the things I've learned so far is that "estate wine" means the all of the grapes in the wine were grown at our vineyard, as opposed to a wine where the grapes were grown elsewhere and turned into wine at our winery, or a wine composed of both our grapes and other vineyard's grapes.

We recently released a 5 year old whiskey, made using the old wine barrels. Oak barrels can only be used 2 or 3 times for making wine, but then they can be used for whiskey. This is useful, because they cost a fortune. Upwards of $1000 per barrel! I never would have thought they'd be so much. Barrels are made from oak because oak appears to be the best in letting the aging wine breathe and avoiding mold growth.

We have a number of sweeter spirits with fun names: Northern Comfort is a cognac-style spirit with a lovely maple flavor; Foggy Bog is a cranberry brandy, and Silk is a delicious peach brandy.

Finally, we have beers, one variety of apple cider and one variety of pear cider. These are always on tap for tasting, and available in growlers and bottles.

I decided I wanted to work at Nashoba because I go there SO MUCH. With every wine tasting or winery tour, you receive a complimentary Nashoba wine glass. I have 2 cases of Nashoba wine glasses in our basement, not to mention all the ones in the kitchen cabinets, and we've only been coming here since March 2009. We began my bachelorette party at Nashoba, and celebrated our first anniversary in picnic form with some of our nearest and dearest. I've tasted every single wine they have, and I can tell you about them. One day I was browsing their website to find the wine of the month (one wine is 10% off each month, currently it's the Amora blackberry brandy) and I saw they were looking for a retail associate to work at the tasting bar and give tours. I've really missed giving tours since my Hillstead days, so it seemed perfect.

One day after work, at the end of a week where I'd had a lot of questions about our beers, I decided I needed to do a little research. You know me, I'm not much of a beer drinker (although after the VT Brewer's Festival, it's changed a bit!). Up until then, I'd only tried the Wattaquadoc Wheat, a wheaty beer that's maybe a hair too bitter for me, but still drinkable, and the Blackberry Ale, which it lovely and pink and my favorite (defintely not everyone's favorite!). After trying all of the rest of the beers, the only ones I can add to my drinkable list are the Farmhouse Ale, a nice and simple light beer, and the Eight Hills Smoked Lager, because apparently I'm odd and like smokey things more than most people. From left to right in the picture above:
Eight Hill smoked lager (not overly dark, nice and smokey)
Farmhouse Ale (light and not too bitter, kind of a refreshing summery beer)
Barley wine (noooot for me)
Summer Stout (lighter than most stouts, but still too malty for me)
Heron Ale (too bitter for me! but very popular)
Bolt 117 (German style lager, too hoppy)
Blackberry Ale (faaaavorite! nice and fruity)

My favorite wines are:
whites: Vignoles (slightly sweet but still crisp)
reds: Renaissance (flavorful red, not overpowering), Chrystleton (apple and elderberry, classified as a red but much fruitier, and very unique)
fruits: Strawberry Rhubarb (sweet but not sickly sweet, the rhubarb cuts it down nicely), Cranberry Apple (like cranberry juice? You'll love this one), Semi-sweet blueberry (lovely blueberry flavor, not super sweet), Raspberry dessert wine (liquid raspberries. delicious)
Spirits: Northern Comfort (anything with maple is the thing for me!)

As you can tell, my wine describing skills are still developing. But I know what I like!

Come visit us, we're open 7 days a week, 10-5 Sunday through Thursday, and 10-6 Friday and Saturday. I work most Saturdays and Sundays at the tasting bar, check with me before coming if you want to be on my tour, and I can tell you when I'll be on!

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