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.
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.
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.
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.
The food at Shays Pub & Wine Bar ranges from Tex-Mex feasts to light servings of hummus, but all the dishes are united by one common thread: almost everything is made in-house from scratch. One example: the homemade enchilada sauce, which is smothered atop burritos bursting with melted cheese, rice, jalapeños, and onions. The fries are likewise homemade and hand cut, and make a perfect accomplice to the cheddar cheeseburger and the turkey and bacon sandwich. The wines on the menu, however, were not made in-house; even better, they hail from Italy, France, and New Zealand. Shays Pub also features 10 brews on tap and a list of bottled beers that includes Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and Sam Smith’s Nut Brown Ale.
Growing up across the street from the historical North End building where Villa Francesca now stands, Guglielmo Ranauro never guessed that he'd open a restaurant in 1976 and name it after his beloved mother. Ranauro was inspired by her traditional cooking and wanted to create a place where other people could get an authentic taste of Italy.
Today, Ranauro has handed over the family legacy to longtime manager and prot?g? Tomas Salmeron. Salmeron and his culinary team continue to follow those classic recipes, turning fresh-caught fruits of the sea into a daily seafood prix fixe menu. Furthermore, they transform chicken, lamb, steak, and veal into dishes you might find while strolling through a Tuscan piazza or steering a one-person submarine down a Venetian canal. The eatery?s extensive wine list, which includes 140 Italian and international varieties, earned a 2012 Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. Even the ambiance points diners in the direction of Italy: tin ceilings and stained-glass accents add Old-World nostalgia, and the exposed-brick walls are anchored by Romanesque archways and paintings of bustling village scenes.