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On a cold, snowy day in early winter 2000, we looked out the back window of a house we were considering purchasing, and remember thinking, “If this land was anywhere else in the world, it would be a vineyard.” The rolling hills and far views seemed to be the perfect setting. However, it is New Hampshire, after all – grape growing? How ridiculous! Grapes are grown in much milder climates, right?
As it turned out, the idea wasn’t that ridiculous! A few searches on our new internet connection, and low and behold – The Minnesota Grape Growers website popped into view. The University of Minnesota had and still has a very active cold-climate grape hybridizing program, with the help of an elderly fellow by the name of Elmer Swenson who dedicated his life to creating French-American hybrid vines that could handle 30 to 50 degrees below zero winter temperatures.
Well, if these grapevines could stand colder temperatures than you find here in NH, without the insulation of as much “white mulch” (snow) as we have here, hey, maybe the idea wasn’t so crazy! But then there was the question of what kind of wine would these grapes make, even if they did grow here…
After attending numerous seminars, workshops, and courses, reading a mountain of books on every aspect of grape growing and winemaking, and taking trips to grape growing areas of the country, tasting their wines, talking with winemakers, the possibilities became reality.
We did, indeed, buy that house on the hill with the breathtaking views. Ground was prepared, trellising was installed, and the first 250 vines were planted in the spring of 2004. The first harvest on those vines was 2006 which prompted the immediate need for lab and winemaking equipment.