Thursday, September 13, 2012

Vineyard of Dreams: A Sweet Baby Story

      With a vision of a winery and vineyard, Lewis Eaton surveys the modest backyard of his Kensington home. He hears a voice:
                                                       "If you build it, he will come."

     Holding a business degree and giving up a promising career in bridge construction, Lewis begins his quest of making fine New Hampshire wines with quality local fruits. He purchases a stainless steel tank and begins to ferment his first batch of purchased Concord grapes. Before long he plants his one acre of grapes (Marechal Foch, Niagra and Leon Millot) and continues to produces wine in his converted garage.
     "If you're going to continue with this stainless steel fetish of yours, you'd better start selling some wine to support your habit." Says Stacey Eaton, who hears the voice and sees the vision too.
     Thus in 2008, Sweet Baby Vineyard is born. Their first year goal of producing 250 cases of wines is surpassed three-fold. In just four short years the total number of cases produced has soared to over 3000. This baby is just getting started though, as they have outgrown their garage production and have recently moved into a 5000 square foot winery and warehouse, complete with a finely decorated tasting room large enough for a modest gathering of 40-50 people and more acreage to be prepared for future plantings.
     Much like the characters in the movie, "Field of Dreams", Lewis and Stacey continue on their relentless pursuit of their dreams. Make quality wines and use only local fruits. Truly they have overcome many obstacles and have accomplished much in very little time.  What have these goals realized thus far?

Produce Quality Wines:  In just 4 short years, Sweet Baby Vineyard has won 34 awards for their outstanding wines. They have also made their way into not a small number of local markets and larger regional chain grocers such as Shaws and Market Basket with even further growth potential.
      "I didn't realize just how well known our wines were until I went into the bank to make a deposit and the teller says, 'I just love your wines.', that really suprised me." says Stacey. These wines include all varieties and styles. Sweet whites, dry reds, crisp fruit wines just to name a few.

Use only local fruit: They have produced a few wines from imported grapes, such as their Kensington Red made from Italian Amarone style grapes, the awarded Chilean Malbec, and their dry oaked Chardonnay called Kensinton White with grapes from New York state. By far, their most popular wines come from the fruit grown right here in New Hampshire. The blueberries are grown in Alton. The apples, peaches and strawberries are from Hampton Falls and the raspberries are picked in West Moreland.
     " I could get some of my fruit from less expensive sources but I want to keep it local." insists Lewis.  Perhaps it's this unwillingness to comprimise that gives their wines unmistakeable flavor and appeal.

     So what does the future hold for this baby? Besides continued growth in wine sales and production, Stacey has developed a line of homemade jellies from the wines themselves. Lewis continues to find new places to market the wines including expansion into other states. More on the horizon including added grape plantings and maybe even a sparkling wine in the near future. Watch as the cars are coming in the distance to their new location in East Kingston, all to enjoy fabulous wines with consistency and staying power. Perhaps you too will hear the voice: "If he makes it, they will come....and drink wine."  Maybe you will come too.

Sweet Baby Vineyard "must try" wine list:

Callum's Red:  Leon Millot grape
Aromas of earthy forest floor with a kiss of sweet red berries similar to a port, that greet the palate with soft tannins and firm acidity that finishes with hints of tobacco.

Niagra: Niagra grape
Flinty aromas of burnt matches and sweet notes of floral. Flavors reminiscent of honeysuckle, lily of the valley and even banana peel. Long finish, balanced acidity.

Sweet summer rasberry sorbet notes and velvety sweet raspberry flavors without being cloyingly sweet. Perfect with scones, or shortbread.

Marachal Foch: Marachal Foch grape
Light aromas of berry and raisins, medium bodied wine with moderate tannins and rounded mouthfeel yet broody complex finish.

Kensington White: NY Chardonnay grape
Light flinty aromas with notes of apple and fig. Lightly oaked with bright fruit flavors, hints of teaberry and rhubarb on the finish with bracing acidity in a effervescent feel.

Malbec: Chilean Malbec grape
Dreamy aromas of rich dark berries, vanilla and buttered toast with bold fruit flavors of blackberries and raspberries with french vanilla coffee with peppery feel on the tongue

Apple Cranberry:
Sweet apple blossom greets the nose with notes of Jolly Rancher apple candies and tart cranberry flavors with a lingering citrus flavor that lasts