Friday, June 6, 2014

Newfound Lake Vineyards Open for First Official Season

I’m happy to report that there is a new winery officially open in New Hampshire: Newfound Lake Vineyards in Bristol. As if there weren’t enough reasons to visit the beautiful Newfound Lake area, here is one more.

Owner Heidi von Gotz Cogean held a soft opening last fall and just in time for the Lakes Region’s annual Barrel Tasting Weekend. She had a few wines for tasting and a few other wines in the works, including a Carmenere still aging that Barrel Tasting Weekend attendees could taste.

I visited Newfound Lake Vineyards last September on Heidi’s first ‘official’ night open and was excited to return with my family. The winery is nestled up on a hill off Lake Shore Road near Newfound Lake. It’s cozy and welcoming, just like Heidi. In addition to being a great hostess, she is also very knowledgeable about wine so I enjoy listening to her share her expertise.

Heidi’s ancestors in Germany produced wine for many, many years so winemaking has always been part of her life and opening her own winery is a continuation of that tradition. Like her family generations before her, she is focused on homegrown grapes and is currently growing Edelweiss, La Crescent and Marquette grapes in her vineyard.

 “My cousins said, “You can’t make wine in America,”” she laughed, but clearly she is, and has taken some back to Germany for them to taste. Her mother, despite being in her 80s, is an active part of Newfound Lake Vineyards and even handpicked some of the blueberries used in the wine.

Currently, there are three Newfound Lake Vineyards wines available for tasting: Wild Blue Oak, Carmenere and Pinot Grigio. Fermenting in the winery were cabernet sauvignon and merlot that will become Wicked Good Red, a Bordeaux-style blend that is, as described, wicked good. I tried this blend in the fall and really enjoyed it. It seems others did as well because Heidi completely sold out. She expects to have it ready by August or early fall. (UPDATE: the week after I visited, she released her Sweet Blue)

The Pinot Grigio, made from pinot gris grapes, is an Italian style wine that is bright and crisp with a slight effervescence. What I enjoyed about this wine most is its smoothness and lack of harsh acidity often found in other pinot grigios. This wine should be well chilled before serving. It would be a great pairing with a seafood or pasta dish with creamy sauce.
Any guests who visited the winery during Barrel Tasting Weekend last fall and tried the Carmenere straight out of the barrel can now try the finished product. This wine is dry, smooth and mellow with a subtle hint of pepper. It was aged in French oak to bring out the grapes character and has developed nicely since the fall.

The Wild Blue Oak is a blueberry wine made with local fruit from the Newfound area, hand picked by Heidi’s mom, and berries from Taylor Farm in Alton. This wine is dry and reminiscent of a red wine made from grapes but has a very nice aroma and flavor of blueberries. Also aged in oak, this wine pairs well with game meat, red meat and chocolate.
“Your taste buds change every day,” Heidi said, noting that some wines are better with food to complement a meal. She also recommends cooking with red wine if you have a bottle that has been opened for a while.

In addition to the Wicked Good Red, Heidi is currently working on a few other wines as well. She had one version of rhubarb wine last fall, but is developing a sweeter version. She also hopes to release a sweet blueberry wine and a sweet cranberry wine and an additional Cranberry Bog wine by the fall. She also collected her own sap from her property and said a wine made with maple syrup may be in her future plans.

For now, she is celebrating her first official season and tending to the grapes in her own vineyard, hoping the wildlife won’t disturb them too much. She has been busy producing wine and has the winery fully stocked with cases of wines.

Newfound Lake Vineyards, located at 567 West Shore Road in Bristol, is open until November on Friday evenings from 5:30-8:30 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5 p.m. Visit for more information and updates.