Wine Tasting in Portland

Select Local Merchants

Husband and wife Peter D. and Brenda Oldak didn't have any specific plans when they moved onto a 12-acre New Hampshire farm in 1977. A few years later, though, Mr. Oldak began experimenting with growing grapes. Through a decade of trial and error, he began improving his techniques, and when he won his first few medals in 1992, he decided to bring his operation up to the commercial level. Peter and Brenda are still hard at work perfecting their wines as the owners of Jewell Towne Vineyards, a boutique and community-supported winery occupying the former farm. Daily tours lead visitors along the sunny riverside slope where more than 20 varieties of American and European grapes now grow, and into the processing, fermentation, and barrel rooms. During said tours, guests follow the same path as the wines, all of which are made entirely from Jewell Towne's grapes. These libations are also available for sampling in the rustic post-and-beam tasting room that, along with an art gallery, fills the former farmhouse.

65 Jewell St
South Hampton,
NH
US

Winemaking began as a hobby for Sweet Baby Vineyard founder Lewis Eaton. In the summer, he and his family found themselves traveling to local farms to pick fresh strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and apples, which later made it into Lewis?s wines. Those creations later became the foundation for Sweet Baby Vineyard's now-expansive wine varieties. Today, the winery grows four grape varietals and the tasting room welcomes visitors for complimentary tastings of many of Sweet Baby?s creations, such as bartlett pear wine, the eternally embarrassed blush, and dry red.

204 South Rd
Kensington,
NH
US

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.

226 Main St
Sandown,
NH
US

With its three basic ingredients?honey, water, and yeast?the making of mead sounds misleadingly simple. But Michael Fairbrother tinkered with the recipe for this ancient drink in his garage for 17 years before he felt ready to open Moonlight Meadery and share the results. Michael has fine-tuned the fermentation process to craft batches of mead from ethically sourced, unpasteurized honey, which imparts each sip with rich color, vivid aromas, and the pleasant buzz that bees make while wading into a hot tub. Michael?s traditional mead rests side by side with fruit-tinged and spiced varietals that meld flavors such as tart rhubarb and Madagascar-bourbon vanilla beans with New Hampshire wildflower honey.

23 Londonderry Rd
Londonderry,
NH
US

Urban Farm Fermentory aims to obtain as much of its ingredients from the local community as possible—even its founder, Eli Cayer, is a Maine native. At the Fermentory, juice pressed from Maine apples is allowed to ferment under the direction of yeast that occurs naturally in the air and on the fruit itself, producing a cider that is as tart as it is dry. Raw Maine honey goes into the experimental center’s crisp mead, and its kombucha is sure to please lovers of fermented tea and displease the ghost of Earl Grey. As it expands, the Urban Farm Fermentory is coming to serve as a hub for local artisans, providing a space for enthusiasts to provide workshops in such fields as making lacto-fermented foods such as kimchi, and harvesting mushrooms.

200 Anderson St
Portland,
ME
US

When she's developing a menu, executive chef Rae Hebert doesn't start with the dishes. She starts with the people around her. What do local Maine farmers and artisans have in store? she asks. What did they grow, craft, or raise this season, and what do they anticipate having in a few weeks? That's why the menu at Wild Duck Pub changes with the seasons, just like the color of tree branches' mood rings. Hebert's lunch and dinner menus each average seven entrees and just a handful of smaller dishes, which lets the kitchen team home in on?and perfect?every bite. Even the burger, for instance, features a Maine-raised grassfed beef patty. And the BLT, that humble American staple, gets an upscale reboot with basil mayonnaise and fresh mozzarella.

114 Village Dr
Topsham,
ME
US