The Summer of LaBelle
NH winemakers prep for new Derry market, restaurant, vineyard, golf opening
It started with a flagship vineyard and bistro in Amherst. Next came the Portsmouth tasting room and retail store. Now, like a grape vine climbing, growing and reaching further, LaBelle Winery continues its expansion across the southern part of the state.
Winemaker/owners Amy LaBelle and her husband, Cesar Arboleda, have begun to pull back the curtain on their newest effort – LaBelle Winery Derry, an expansive complex set on 45 acres along Route 111 on the former Brookstone Events & Golf site. The new complex will include a market, restaurant, winemaking facility, tasting barn, and golf course.
“We looked at this property two years ago as part of our potential expansion plans,” LaBelle says. “It was a family who owned the business that, for a variety of reasons at the time, decided it wasn’t time for them to sell.”
Then, last July, situations changed and the space became available. While the pandemic made things challenging, things began to fall into place.
“We began talking it through and thinking about it,” LaBelle says. “We did love the property. We said, ‘let’s go have a conversation’ (about it,) and the rest is history.”
First up: LaBelle Market, which is set to open in mid-to-late May. Designer and architect Peter Niemitz of the Niemitz Design Group, known for his exceptional restaurant and venue projects, designed LaBelle Market, which is reminiscent of an épicerie – a French-style market offering wine, sandwiches, catered platters and fresh meals to-go.
“The concept of LaBelle Market came about after many years of traveling in the United States and abroad,” LaBelle says. “I often visited markets selling incredibly fresh, local and unique products, and always found shopping at them to be fun and inspiring. The aromas of freshly ground coffee and ripe produce, along with the shops’ beautiful aesthetics, often stayed with me long after I’d returned home. I wanted to bring the same type of experience to our customers in New Hampshire.”
Fulcrum Associates, of Amherst, oversaw the renovation, gutting the building and creating a completely new space. Niemitz, who also designed LaBelle Winery’s space in Amherst, created an approachable, comfortable ambiance. The menu will be handwritten on chalkboards. Both indoor and outdoor seating will be available, with the outdoor tables arranged beneath the building’s ornate covered veranda.
“Peter specializes in hospitality and hotel design,” LaBelle says. “I like to say that I can always tell when I’m in a Peter Niemitz place. He puts his soul into his architecture.”
Prepared and made-to-order foods at LaBelle Market will include house-made croissants; muffins; Danishes; scones; breakfast and specialty sandwiches; salads; prepared entrees and sides; grain bowls; and wood-fired pizzas. Grocery items will include assorted breads; artisanal cheeses; charcuterie; house-made ice cream; prime cuts of beef, marinated beef tips and chicken for the home grill; and house-made pasta. Complete family meal and pizza kits that can be reheated quickly will also be available. Menu items will change with the seasons to include fresh ingredients.
“Our customers deserve healthy, made-from-scratch food. We want to be the place people come to when they have to feed a busy family,” LaBelle says. “We’ll have everything guests need to serve creative, affordable and beautiful meals to friends and family with little to no effort. Extras like fresh-cut flowers, LaBelle wines and house-made ice cream will help make any occasion special.”
The market, LaBelle Culinary Director Peter Agostinelli says, is designed to allow guests to take a little of the winery home with them.
“It will be a great place to stop and grab some wine, healthy food options, or some decadent treats,” Agostinelli says.
The new Derry site will also be home to LaBelle and Arboleda’s newest restaurant, Americus. Featuring New England contemporary fare with international inspiration, sample menus preview a selection of cheese and meats – Jasper Hill Clothbound Cheddar, Comte, Grey Barn Farms Bluebird, Old Chatham Camembert, among them; a range of appetizers, such as brick oven roasted olives, steak bomb rangoons, pan roasted Maine mussels and local mushroom ragout; soups, pizzas, salads, burgers and sandwiches, and entrees such as meat loaf, 16-ounce ribeye, pan-roasted lobster and herbed ricotta gnocchi. Americus, adjacent to LaBelle Market, will also open in May.
LaBelle Market will be open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. A grand opening celebration for LaBelle Market and Americus will take place on May 20, LaBelle says.
“There’s going to be really, really good food and wine,” she says. “And a lot of happy people. We’ve always prided ourselves on being a place people come to to celebrate all kinds of things. We expect it to be full of happy, excited people enjoying the LaBelle experience to the fullest.”