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.
The Boston Wine Expo’s Grand Tasting event unites varietals from nearly 200 wineries around the world with cuisine from more than 40 local eateries during four hours of culinary harmony. Attendees can sip more than 1,000 red and white elixirs culled from the grape-producing and wild-cork-taming regions of North America, Europe, the Southern Hemisphere, and the Mediterranean. Samples from Boston-area restaurants such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Sandrine’s Bistro complement each swig as vintners enlighten enophiles on current winemaking trends. Throughout the afternoon, top gastronomic maestros tread two stages during live demonstrations that divulge recipes and directions for finding the secret compartment hidden inside every wine bottle. Lifestyle exhibits and a full schedule of seminars enlighten guests on topics ranging from cheese-and-wine matching to the diversity of Italian varietals (not included with this Groupon). A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit local charities.
The food at Mediocre Deli & Pub isn’t mediocre; in fact, it’s “well above mediocre” according to the Portland Press Herald, which added that its unique name is “a badge of deli confidence, eye-catching and ironic.” Owner Aaron Plourde and his wife Cindy may have a sense of humor about the deli’s name, but his deli’s food is downright serious.
They stock their sandwich station with five kinds of cheese and a huge variety of fresh breads. Design-your-own pizzas heap savory meats, cheeses, and veggies atop freshly made crusts. They also dish lighter eats, such as salads, kids' meals, and Maine-style italian sandwiches.
Distiller Ned Wight can trace his heritage through a long line of distillers, starting with his great-great-great-grandfather John Jacob Wight, who ran the Sherwood Distillery in Hunt Valley, Maryland in the 1850s. The family business shuttered in 1958, and the legacy seemed lost to the annals of time. That is, until Wight—a former brewer at Allagash Brewing Co.—moved the operation and opened New England Distilling in Portland. Wight has filled his distillery with a blend of new and old-fashioned equipment, from a custom-built traditional copper pot still to barrel racks salvaged from his ancestral distillery.
Wight's spirits, like his distilling process, are an exercise in creative fusion. Each spirit's unique flavor comes from New England grain combined with recipes from around the world. This trio of craft spirits includes Gunpowder Rye, a spicy Maryland-style whiskey caramelized in the copper pot still, Ingenium Gin, a Dutch-style sipping gin made with exotic Southeast Asian botanicals, and Eight Bells Rum, crafted with Caribbean molasses and aged in bourbon barrels. Their unusual characteristics—and Wight's unorthodox operation—have earned praise from publications such as Maine Magazine.
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.
In June of 2012, the Portland Press Herald lauded the recently opened Spread for bringing “urban couture to Portland” with a space where “every surface seems to twinkle.” A month later, the paper was still raving about the eatery, which it described as a “modern art gallery meets bar.” It’s easy to see why: chandeliers hang above lounge furniture and original artwork, while exposed brick and a backlit wine bottle display serve as the bar’s backdrop.
As upscale as the decor, the menu includes smoked local squash with creamy fondue, slow-cooked lamb shoulder, and seafood chowder with housemade bacon. To accompany meals, bartenders pour wine and mix classic or contemporary cocktails from a drink menu that the Portland Press Herald regards as “nothing short of spectacular.”