North Ridge Mountain Guides founder Jamie Leahy first fell in love with scaling peaks while tackling the heights of Mount Washington. The Professional Climbing Instructors' Association–certified guru has since defied gravity on inclines of ice and rock around the United States and in Ecuador, summiting peaks of more than 19,000 feet to touch the sky and harvest his crops of clouds by following a simple philosophy: climb hard, climb safe. This mantra guides his approach to teaching the ins and outs of belaying and rappelling and steers the expeditions he leads up the less-traveled routes of Mount Monadnock. He also shares the art of ice climbing with pupils during introductory courses that delve into subjects such as crampon placement, swinging an ice axe, and how to read the ice, which often obscures its messages in Wingdings fonts.
Adventurers glide past pine and deciduous trees, navigating branches at 200 feet above the ground. As they reach a treetop platform, guides wave them along onto a bridge that swings high above the forest floor. This nerve-racking scene is the norm at Alpine Adventures, where professionals have led guests soaring through the woodlands of New Hampshire's White Mountains since 2006. Today, in addition to leading guests on three distinct canopy tours, each testing adventurers' courage with swinging bridges and fast speeds, they captain off-road adventures in six-wheeled Swiss Pinzgauers. Up to 11 passengers sit protected by seat harnesses and an overhead roll cage as guides narrate and charge through fall foliage, winter flurries, or summer volleyball games. An aerial park invites thrill seekers to explore cargo nets, rope ladders, ziplines, a treehouse, a climbing tower, and many other elevated obstacles.
Anheuser-Busch's beermaster tour regales guests with an edifying excursion behind the scenes of the brewer's charming, picturesque facilities. View secretive master sudsmiths as they frolic in their natural brewhouse habitat, and savor the hearty bouquet of the hop room, which brims with the scents of the powerful flowers. The fermentation cellar and packaging facility reveal the early stages of a magical lifecycle, similar to watching a nest of panda eggs hatch.
With three basic ingredients—honey, water, and yeast—the making of mead is misleadingly simple. Michael Fairbrother has spent the last 17 years perfecting his recipes for the ancient drink, first tinkering in his own garage as an amateur mead maker for many years before opening Moonlight Meadery. Here, Michael fine-tunes the fermentation process to craft batches of mead from ethically sourced, unpasteurized honey, which imparts each sip with rich color, volatile aromatics, and a faint buzzing sound. Michael’s traditional mead rests side by side with fruit-tinged cups and spiced varieties that rejoin flavors such as tart rhubarb and Madagascar-bourbon vanilla beans with New Hampshire wildflower honey.
The inspiration for Zorvino Vineyards came to Jim and Cheryl Zanello in the same way it does for many American vintners—from a trip to Italy. Taken by the contrast in the quality of the wines and the pace of life between the two countries, the Zanellos brought over their own taste of the old country to an 80-acre New England estate. With grapes sourced both from their own vineyard and such regions as Tuscany, Chile, and California, the pair crafts a suite of red, white, and fruit wines that they sell on site and proffer to local restaurants and merchants. However, the winery itself is worth a trip, with its wrought-iron gate, lantern posts that seem to grow out of empty casks, and swarms of fireflies that send Morse code recommendations for the best wine to pair with salmon. Inside the tasting room, guests lean on hardwood banisters as they sip samples of the winery’s creations.
On his way to work one day, Andre Boucher spotted a hot air balloon, and on a whim he decided to follow it. He met it where it landed, and the aircraft's pilot offered to take Andre up for a ride. Ever since he was young, Andre had been fascinated by aviation, but airsickness and a codependent relationship with gravity always prevented him from enjoying it firsthand. But as he felt the basket drifting with the wind instead of battling against it, Andre knew he had finally found a way to experience flight. He has since acquired more than 23 years of professional experience, even lending his expertise to an elaborate promotional flight for Pixar's balloon-based film Up.
Andre now captains A&A Balloon Rides, LLC, where colorful carriages lift patrons between 500 and 2,000 feet above the lakes, treetops, and fields of New Hampshire. Guests can arrange private or group flights, and they can set up flown or tethered rides for school events, company picnics, or aerial-photography sessions, the latter of which can finally prove that birds fly on hoverboards.