Hermit Woods Winery

Fermenting local resources at Hermit Woods

The team at Hermit Woods Winery in Sanbornton recently introduced 30 new wines. It's not that they are working with 30 varietals of grapes or fruit, but wine maker Ken Hardcastle has become an expert blender. With carboys filled with fruit wines made from local apples, crabapples or even native kiwi fruit, Hardcastle mixes up blends to suit his palate. Though most Hermit Woods wines are fruit-based, he and other team members, Bob Manley and Chuck Lawrence, prefer a more dry wine, and as far as fruit wines go, they are.The fruit for the Crabapple Wine ($14) was harvested from a tree in the front yard. Slightly off-dry, it is perfect as an apéritif or with spicy foods.

The wine with the longest legs (story-wise) is their Kiwi Wine ($18) made from a little-known fruit grown in New Hampshire, but it has a taste similar to the New Zealand variety you are familiar with. Last year news of this creation hit national blogs and they had requests from across the nation. Unfortunately, only a few cases were available and it sold out. Fortunately, more is available for this year. The wine is surprisingly aromatic and refreshing.Manley also dabbles with mead using local honeys, some from his own hives. His Three-Honey wine($16) is aromatic and flowery. A few of their fruit wines are also sweetened with honey, which give them a distinctive undertone.

A unique multiberry wine called Red Scare ($18) holds its own against a red Zinfandel and can be served where a light red wine would match.

Interestingly, Hardcastle uses a low fermentation temperature and all the healthful benefits of the berries and other fruit are condensed and preserved. One of his wines actually uses Japanese Knotweed, a great source of resveratrol, the compound that makes wine healthy.

Hermit Woods Winery's tasting room is open five days a week in the summer and on weekends in the fall. The ride out offers lake views near Steele Hill Resort open for dining.

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