I am a huge fan of New Hampshire wineries so it is always a pleasure to see them grow and prosper. We have already seen LaBelle Winery move into a beautiful new facility in Amherst, which has allowed them to expand not only their space, but offerings, wine dinners, classes and events.
Recently, I had the pleasure of joining the founders of Hermit Woods Winery, formerly of Sanbornton, for their official “Uncorking,” the grand opening of their new winery in downtown Meredith. They worked tirelessly through the winter months to upgrade the old Fermentation Station building that gives them much more room to offer tastings, sell their products and most importantly – produce wine.
“This is really a special day for us,” said Bob Manley, one of Hermit Woods’ founders. “Ken, Chuck and I have worked hard the last 10 months and we are excited to open the doors.”
Manley thanked their family, friends and many others involved in the project. He also noted that the response from other businesses and the Meredith community “has just been fantastic.”
“Most importantly, I want to thank our customers. You have helped make our business a success and supported us from the beginning,” Manley said.
Manley, Ken Hardcastle and Chuck Lawrence started Hermit Woods in 2011 after forming a strong friendship. The original tasting room and wine production space were located in Manley’s home. He joked that he was finally going to be able to have his master bedroom and basement back with the opening of their new Meredith space.
“We had a love of wine and we wanted to produce wine with native fruit from our area in the style of regions from around the world,” Manley said. “Our wine is made with fruits grown right here.”
Hardcastle said they will actually be adding a “fermentable landscape” in front of the winery so they can grow fruit right on site.
Before opening the doors during the official grand opening, all three founders ‘uncorked’ the winery with a giant wine opener and invited guests to head inside.
“We are excited about doing our part in Meredith for Main Street,” Manley said, “and we look forward to being here for a really long time. Please take a sip of wine, wander around and enjoy the place.”
For this special occasion, Chef Kevin Halligan of Local Eatery in Laconia served up a delicious selection of appetizers, made to order on a grill right on the Hermit Woods deck.
The weather was so great on this day, many guests looked like that had a hard time deciding whether to stay inside and check out the winery or just enjoy the view and sunshine outside from the deck.
Hardcastle, the winery’s head winemaker, gave guests a tour of the winemaking space located in the lower level of the building. Included were some of his test batches, including some yeasts and a day lily wine. A geologist by trade, Hardcastle is constantly experimenting with different yeasts to see what he wants to use in his wines. “Wine is a living thing,” he said.
In addition to their wine, Hermit Woods is partnering with other local businesses like Oglethorpe Fine Arts and Crafts and the Bread Peddler to offer a variety of items for sale in the winery. The space is set-up nicely, with room to sip wine and browse. There is also a nice deck off the front entrance, which will be an ideal place to sit and relax during the summer months.
The winery produces about 30 different wines per year. Their new wines will be released this summer, but during the event guests were able to sample four wines: Three Honey Wine, Red Scare, Maple Blue and Karmin Ayre. I have tried all of these wines before but I never get tired of them; they are all so good. The Maple Blue is the perfect wine for the season because it is actually made with local sap and low bush blueberries.
The winery is currently open on Fridays from 3-6 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Beginning in May, nearby Newfound Lake Vineyards in Bristol will also be open, so take a trip to the Lakes Region and make a day of it. Visit hermitwoods.com for more information.