Hermit Woods Winery was featured in a wonderful story about Champagne in the Hippo by Angie Sykeny this week. Angie did an excellent job demystifying this wonderful beverage enjoyed by so many on special occasions throughout the year, but probably not nearly as much as will be enjoyed on New Years Eve.
Hermit Woods Winery Named One of Two in New England to Make Food and Wine Magazine’s “Best 500 Wineries” List for 2017
Meredith, NH–“What happens when you combine local ingredients – like berries, flowers and honey – with traditional winemaking techniques like fermentation until dry, then give them extended barrel aging? If you are the three partners in this venture, you have a hit on your hands…” Editor of Food & Wine Magazine.
Food & Wine has included Hermit Woods Winery on its list of Best 500 Wineries in America in its 2017 Wine Guide. Hermit Woods is the only winery in New Hampshire, one of only two in New England, and one of only 20 wineries in all of the Northeast – including NY, PA, and NJ – to be included on this list.
Hermit Woods is on the list alongside some of the country’s most prestigious wineries, including Napa Valley’s Caymus Vineyards, who helped put California on the map in the early 70’s; Harlan Estates; Opus One; Robert Mondavi; and Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, famous for winning the “Judgement of Paris Tasting” in 1976 with their Cabernet Sauvignon. Also on the list are New York’s well-known Bedell Cellars, Dr. Konstantin Frank Cellars, and Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard, arguably one of the Northeast’s most recognized brands.
But what is most notable about Hermit Woods Winery’s inclusion on the list is the fact that it may be the only winery on the list not producing wine from grapes. Hermit Woods has developed its reputation for crafting classically styled, often barrel aged wines from the fruit that is native to New England.
Partner and Vintner Ken Hardcastle explains it this way, “Having developed a love for some of the world’s finest wines from Burgundy and other classic wine regions of the world, we are exploring the depth and character that can be developed from our local fruits and the terroir that exists here in our part of the world. This is where we live, so we craft wine from the fruits that grow best here.” Ken’s approach is a significant departure from the more common sweet fruit wine that the Northeast is better known for.
Hermit Woods first came to the attention of Food & Wine when its Wine Editor, Ray Isle, had a chance to sample the Hermit Woods Petite Blue Reserve, a wild blueberry wine crafted in the style of a Burgundy. Shortly thereafter, Ray asked Hermit Woods if it would mind if he shared its Petite Blue with Kathie Lee and Hoda on the Today show.
In the few short years, just six, since Hermit Woods was founded, many of the Hermit Woods wines have won medals at some of the East’s most notable wine competitions, most recently taking home several medals, including a tie for “Best Mead”, at “Drink Outside the Grape,” a Virginia-based wine competition for fruit wine, cider and mead.
Bob Manley, one of Hermit Woods’ three partners had this to say, ”All of us here at Hermit Woods are so proud to be given this honor. We have worked very hard over the past six years to produce the finest quality wines that we can produce, the inclusion of our winery on this list validates all our hard work.”
Bob Manley wanted to thank the many Hermit Woods guests who have gone on this journey with them and contributed to getting the word out about the exciting things that Hermit Woods is doing here in Meredith. “Without them, we would not have achieved this milestone,” says Bob.
Founded in 2011, Hermit Woods Winery is a small boutique winery producing fruit wine, meads, and ciders. “Our wines and ciders are local (as much as possible), vegan (except the honey wines), gluten free, raw, and made from non-certified but mostly organic fruit. We always use whole fruit, never use heat, and always use gentle hand processing. Our wines, meads, and ciders are made with minimal to no chemical adjustments or additions and are styled after the classic dry European grape wines”, explains Hardcastle. Hermit Woods sees over 8,000 visitors at its tasting room every year, and its wines are available throughout New Hampshire and direct to consumer in 37 states.
Hermit Woods is located at 72 Main Street in Meredith NH, just a stone’s throw away from New Hampshire’s famous Lake Winnipesaukee. The winery is open seven days a week in the summer and fall and five days a week in the winter and spring. Wine tastings are offered during all open hours, while tours are available on weekends or by appointment. Visit them at www.hermitwoods.com to learn more.
Thank you to all those who were able to join us for our 2016 Club Member Holiday Gathering. Ken, Chuck, Jenn and I had a wonderful time sharing our wine and stories with you and getting to know everyone. For those of you who were not able to make it, we wish you all a wonderful Holiday Season and look forward to seeing you in the New Year!
You can view a photo gallery of all the images from the evening here.
Wines served at this event are available for club member purchase in very limited supply. If you have an interest in purchasing these wines, please inquire at the tasting room.
Hermit Woods Winery is pleased to announce that their vintner, Ken Hardcastle, Ph.D., will be helping to design and teach a portion of a brand new fermentation certification program at the Lakes Region community college starting next month! Ken is really excited to be teaching the course on wine, cider and mead and hopes you or someone you know may be interested in attending the class.
Really excited about the approach of crafting the 2016 petite blue this season. In attempt to break out of the typical approach of choosing a singular press date after macerating the fruit for a set number of days, the ferment this season was separated into four containers, and each was pressed on a different date (last season, two press times were used). This allowed us to capture the fresh fruit flavors of a early presses, combined with the deep tannins and body of a late press fraction. These are then all combined to produce a wine with all the desirable attributes. The wine was pressed after six, seven, eight, and 12 days of maceration.
In addition, the pomace from the press at six days was put into the container that was later pressed after 12 days of total skin contact time. I will call this ‘Second Press Primary’ and will further explore this with other ferments for all its potential. This step served to really boost the deep tannins and body of the 12 day press and make full use of the potential of this exceptional fruit. Although all fractions were combined into the final product this season, a separate carboy of each press fraction was isolated for later consideration with the goal of determining the optimal ratio for future batches of petite blue.
As expected, the early press wines are more fruit forward and aromatic while the later pressed wines have a more pronounced body and long-lasting grip. The combined total batch of petite blue is a beautiful blend of all four press fractions resulting in a wine with great fruit aromas, flavors, big body, and long lasting finish. Really dialing this in …!
Story by Megan Smith
“Megan loves traveling and writing about her experiences so others can learn from them.”
New Hampshire is a gorgeous place to spend time, no matter what the season, and it offers something for just about everyone, making family trips easy to plan. With beautiful stretches of beach, scenic highways, and some of the most breathtaking views in the country, New Hampshire might just pull you in and make you want to pack up and move there.
It’s a state known for beautiful foliage and friendly people, but it’s also well-known for the beaches and parks that fill several cities and give visitors plenty of options to choose from when planning a trip. Here are some of the best places to check out during a visit to New Hampshire.
Hampton Beach is home to the famous Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom–a historic landmark–as well as a boardwalk packed with fun attractions for all ages. In the summer months, you can watch (or take part in) a giant sandcastle-building contest that draws artists from all over the world.
Mount Washington Auto Road
If heights don’t bother you, take a trip down this mountain path that will have you literally driving in the clouds. As New Hampshire’s highest peak, you’ll get the best view possible on a guided tour and see parts of the state you wouldn’t get to otherwise.
Polar Caves Park
If you have kids, they’ll love a trip to Polar Caves Park, where they can get up close with animals in the petting zoo and even hand-feed them. However, there are plenty of things to see and learn here, even for the adults, including granite caves, a rock garden, and a climbing wall.
The Kancamagus Highway
If you’re looking for those classic New Hampshire foliage views, check out “The Kanc”, a nearly 35-mile drive filled with gorgeous New Hampshire scenery. There are even places you can stop and pull over for a lovely picnic with the family.
Little ones will have a blast at this amusement park featuring rides and attractions based on fairy tales. The owners get creative with the way they present each attraction, weaving in local customs and turning modern-day equipment into something Cinderella would enjoy.
Isle of Shoals
Located on the New Hampshire/Maine border, this group of 9 islands is best seen from a guided boat tour. You can find several in the area that will take you around to see these beautiful spaces.
New Hampshire has its share of history and comes with more than a few ghost stories. There are several locations to check out if you’re visiting in the fall, when the atmosphere is just right for spooky adventures, including Dover Mills, Toll Hill, and the Philbrick House, all of which have had reports of unexplained lights turning on and off and strange, unexplained noises.
Did you know there are more than 34 wineries in New Hampshire? Take an intimate tour with your partner or make it a group outing with friends. It’s a great option for birthdays and other special occasions, as well as a great way to spend a day during the weekend.
However you decide to spend your time in New Hampshire, you can’t go wrong. From family vacation options to romantic getaways, it’s a little state with a lot of personality!
A recent guest left this review for us on TripAdvisor last week and we wanted to share. We have worked very hard to craft wines that, as this reviewer points out, “rival grape wines” using the fruit that grows here, true NH terrior.
“Fruit Wine Shouldn’t Be Good but…”
Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile
Well, maybe fruit wine is good? This is a first for me.
I normally think of fruit wine as a wine for people who don’t like real wine. I even commented to my wife, as she was dragging me into Hermit Woods that “our 12 year old son can make a terrible fruit wine.”
I stand corrected. Hermit Woods is somehow making dry fruit (and honey) wines with complexity. Their fruit wines suprisingly genuinely rival grape wine. I also admit that I was confused by how good their wines are.
They claim that their fruit wines have extended shelf lives that surpass many wines. I plan to find out. Additionally, they are aging many or most of their wines in oak barrels. Their acidity levels seem spot on.
Hermit Woods should be proud of what they’re building here. They are the only winery that I know of who have pulled off making fruit wines at this high of a level. This might be revolutionary in the wine making world.
I did not like all of their wines. Apparently, honey is not for me. Out of the 6 we tasted, 4 were extraordinary. That’s an extremely high success rate, I’m picky.
Owner and vintners seem very scientific in their approach and appear to be leaving nothing to chance except the experiments in their carboys.
I don’t understand the snail in their logo.
I highly recommend the Lake House Red and Lake House White, both dry and both complex; Extraordinary.
Visited October 2016
The following is the response we wrote to on TripAdvisor to his review:
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughtful response to your experience at Hermit Woods Winery, we were all humbled by your kind words and generous compliments.
As it seems you understand, Ken, Chuck, and I are very passionate about what we do. We all have grown to love drinking the wonderful classic wines of the famous wine regions of the world. When we decided to start a winery here in NH, we wanted to make wine that would satisfy our well traveled palates and as you say, “rival grape wine.” However, we wanted to do so with the true terrior of our region and this meant we had to work with the fruit that grows here. It has taken us over 10 years to get to where we are now and I am sure many more before we reach to level of excellence we strive for. However, as with you, we are very excited about the progress we have made and the unique wines we have developed.
With regard to our snail logo. We took our name from a famous hermit, Joseph Plummer, who lived in the woods near were we started our winery, Hermit Woods. Joseph died in 1882 and you can discover his gravestone and foundation to his home should you venture into Hermit Woods forest. You can read the full story of the hermit on our website here: About/The Hermit. Not wanting a hermit on our label we chose a snail, a critter you might discover in the woods of Meredith and one that represents the slow process of making wine. It didn’t hurt that the “burgundy snail” is a prized delicacy in one of our favorite wine regions of the word.
I hope you will visit us again someday, we would love to share more of the exciting thing we are doing with you. Let us know if you are going to be in the area and we will try and make our selves available to you.
Bob, Ken, and Chuck
There has been a lot of talk during this election year, both in New Hampshire and across the country, about whether the minimum wage should be raised. At Hermit Woods Winery, they have stopped talking about it and decided to take action. On August 19th, Hermit Woods will raise the hourly pay rate of all their employees to $15.00 an hour. They will achieve this by charging their customers a ‘living wage surcharge’ of 3.5% on all sales and applying the money raised towards salaries.
Owners Bob Manley, Ken Hardcastle, and Chuck Lawrence explain that they understand all too well how hard it can be to get by on low wages as they have put almost everything they have earned back into their growing company over the past six years. “We have built a hard working dedicated team. We want to be able to reward them with a living wage so they can support their families and pursue their passions in life as we have” says Bob. “Some of our employees are in school or just out of school and have college debt to pay off while others have families to support, two of whom are single moms. If they’re going to work hard to help us grow our business, we want to make sure they have the resources to afford to live.”
New Hampshire can be an expensive place to live with the cost of living about 16% higher than the rest of the country. Prior to this plan, Hermit Woods was making their best effort to pay all their employees $12.00 per hour (a rate that is still higher than the average for similar positions). Based on the research they had done and the cost of living in the Lakes Region, the owners of Hermit Woods Winery felt that simply wasn’t enough. Bob explains, “we are not sure $15 is enough, but it is a heck of a lot closer than $12.”
The owners of Hermit Woods Winery feel strongly about their decision and sincerely hope that their customers will support and embrace it. Unlike many wineries and other similar service industries, Hermit Woods does not encourage tipping. “We feel the surcharge is a better way to ensure everyone is rewarded equally for their hard work” says Bob. “We want to ensure our customers that every penny raised via this surcharge will go towards increasing our employees pay and nothing else.”
Bob, Ken, and Chuck would like to be able to say they were the first to think of this concept, but they are not. Bob recently read a story that was published via NH Business Review about a small restaurant in Vermont, Popolo’s, that began a similar program in June and inspired him to look into the idea. After some research, they learned that several other businesses across New England and beyond have also taken this approach. After talking with Gary Smith, the person behind Popolo’s decision, and other businesses who have taken this step, the Hermit Woods team decided this was the right thing to do.
Bob reports that it is not likely that the 3.5% surcharge will cover all the costs of increasing everyone at Hermit Woods to $15 an hour, but the owners of Hermit Woods wanted to identify a number that would get close while not asking too much of their customers. You can learn more about their plan by visiting their website: www.hermitwoods.com
Hermit Woods Winery is a boutique winery located in Meredith, NH. They produce a wide variety of grape, fruit, and honey wines, mostly from local, often organic fruit and styled after the old world dry wines of Europe.
For more information please contact Bob Manley by calling 603.253.7968 or emailing, firstname.lastname@example.org
All of us here at Hermit Woods alway look forward to the opportunity to work with Chef Halligan of the Local Eatery when it comes to wine pairing dinners (or anything to do with fine food for that matter). It’s not just that Chef Halligan is one of the finest and most creative Chef’s in the area, he really understands our wines and how to pair them with his food. Each of the five wines we served at the dinner paired perfectly with every course. Not being a food writer, I am going to refrain from trying to explain the finer points of one of the best meals I have had in years. Let us just say, if you have not had Chef Halligan’s food, you simply must change that.
It was a wonderful evening among Hermit Woods Wine Club Members and guests. Dinning commenced shortly after 7:30 and everyone departed happy at around 10:00. The conversation was lively (in-between of course savoring every morsel of food and glass of wine), and new friendships were formed. We look forward to doing it again soon! Click here to view a gallery of all the images from the event.