By Stephen Seitz
(Updated with edits May 25, by Todd Trzaskos at Vermont Wine Media)
LUDLOW—Local connoisseurs don’t have far to go to find the latest offerings of Brook Farm Vineyard. The vineyard has come to Ludlow at 116 Main Street, the Circa 1810 tasting room.
Brook Farm, located in Proctorsville, grow and make wine from their own “cold-hardy” grapes, including La Crescent, Marquette and Frontenac. “We had 800 vines the first year,” said Jen McBride, co-owner, “and we’ve been doubling the vineyard. We planted 3,500 vines in 2015. The 2016 wines are about to be bottled, and we’re introducing 15 new wines.”
While their vineyards mature they also produce wines with imported fruit using Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling, and Merlot, among others.
Four different tastings are on the menu: the Estate Collection, which features La Crescent, Frontenac Rose’, Marquette and Twenty Mile Red; the Vintner’s Collection, featuring Riesling, 45 Acres (Chardonnay Pinot Blanc), Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon; the White Collection, which offers 45 Acres, La Crescent, Riesling, and Frontenac Rose’; and the Red Collection, with 20 Mile Red, Marquette, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The menu helpfully describes the methods by which wine connoisseurs taste and compare.
There is more than just the wine, of course. Circa 1810 also offers artisanal cheeses and handmade chocolate.
“We make all the bread, herb cheeses, and the artisanal chocolate plate,” McBride said. “We hope to offer more in the future, like sandwiches.”
McBride and her husband, Doug, purchased the 45-acre property in 2008. The McBrides do not come from a viticulture background. Doug McBride was a New York attorney, and Jen spent her career in couture textile design, but left all that for the vineyard.
McBride said their winemaker comes from Chile; he has clients around the world, she said.
“He came back for the 2016 harvest,” she said, “I hope he’ll be back this year. Right now, he’s at Oyster Bay in New Zealand.”
Vermont wineries have historically offered fruit wine, like Putney Mountain Winery in Putney or Maquam Winery in Swanton. But, according to the Vermont Wine and Grape Council, Vermont’s wine industry has grown in the last decade because the new grapes bred for cold-climates thrive here and Vermont is producing some of the finest examples of this type, in the world.
“Vermont has a fledgling wine industry,” McBride said. “On Long Island, they went from potato fields to vineyards, and now they have a great wine trail. There are 35 licensed vineyards in Vermont, and it could be nice for the state and good for the economy.”
In addition to the new Circa 1810 tasting room, Brook Farm Vineyard itself is open to visitors, and hosts events, like the first annual Governor’s Cup tasting, to be held on July 6.
“We’ll have eight to 10 judges sampling from unmarked bottles,” McBride said. “We have invited the governor, but we don’t know if he’ll come or not. His staff has told us he’s interested in it.”
There are some unintended consequences sometimes to tasting at the farm, however.
“We have some chickens who walk around,” McBride said. “They became friendly with the visitors, who gave them food, and after a little while they became naughty. They were snatching food right off the plates! We finally figured out that they don’t like getting wet, so we bought some spray bottles. When we serve you, you’ll also get one. Then they’ll stay away.”
Brook Farm is located at 4205 Twenty Mile Stream Road in Proctorsville. For more information visit brookfarmvineyards.com.