New Hartford, Connecticut
|It can be a fun challenge to visit every winery in New England. One of the more recent wineries to offer tastings is Jerram Winery, located in beautiful New Hartford, Connecticut. This is a perfect summer day outing, and will be especially gorgeous when fall colors roll around.|
James Jerram runs the vineyards and winery with his wife, who runs a gardening supply. This allows the couple to combine their favorite hobbies, and cuts their commute down to a stroll in the back yard! As James explained, "I do this because I like to do this." It's a labour of love, and the love shines through in the way he talks about his vines and wines.
Although the winery just opened for tastings, James is no newcomer to winemaking in Connecticut. He began the winery in 1982 with a planting of Marechal Foch. Unfortunately, weather in New England is rarely cooperative. He lost 100 vines outright during a winter storm, and another 100 died the following year, giving grapes as they went. In the late '80s he added in Seyval and Vignoles, and soon Villard de Blanc and Chambourcin followed. His love of growing goes beyond grapes - his vineyards deliberately curl around an old Bartlett Pear tree which he loves. He has even made pear wine from the fruit!
Now that he has spent 20 years on the vineyards, he has a good feel for the grape varieties and the Connecticut climate. If he could start the vineyards again, he would plant it with Marechal Foch and Seyval, and concentrate on those two varietals. Out of his 10 1/2 acres he currently has 4 in vines, plus another acre in the south end of town. He's eyeing other areas to further expand his vineyards.
James has learned about vineyard management as he went. He began with the head trellis style for his vines, where the grapes grow in the center of the vine and the leaves spread out to both sides. He is now moving to a Vertical Shoot Position style, where the vines create a canopy to each side of the grapes.
|The winery and tasting room reside in a carriage house from the 1800s. The horse stall retains its doors and window, and now allows whites to cold stabilize through the winter. The main carriage area currently serves as both tasting room and winemaking area, where they ferment in tanks ranging from 50 to 550 gallons. They are already in the process of expanding further, adding another 14' to the back of the buildings. This will allow all winemaking processing to move downstairs, and leave the main floor free for gourmet foods and other wine accessories.|
Jerram Winery offers six wines - three whites and three reds. The prices range from $11.99/bottle to $13.99/bottle, on par with the other quality wineries in New England. As James said while he poured his wines,
"Why wait for a special occasion to drink wine?
Drink wine and make every occasion special!"
James grows his own Chardonnay grapes to make his White Frost wine. He chose to name it White Frost instead of just Chardonnay as he sells most of his wines at the winery. He doesn't have to try to compete with other Chardonnays - he can explain to his visitors exactly what each wine is. The White Frost is light and gentle, with a fruity flavor that would go wonderfully with Chinese food.
This is 100% Seyval Blanc, a white French hybrid grape that traditionally does well in New England. It's a light, crisp wine with fruity flavors of green apple and lemon. This would be wonderful with cheese on a hot summer afternoon.
This is the sweetest of the three whites, and is a blend of mostly Aurore, plus some Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon. James buys the Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon as juice from the west coast, and does all the winemaking with it here. It has a tart, grapefruit flavor, but also relatively sweet. It's a light wine with a creamy mouth feel. This would be perfect before a meal, to get your taste buds going.
S'il Vous Plait
This red wine is made from Cabernet Franc, a classic French grape that does well in Connecticut. It's an earthy wine, with a rich flavor. It's aged in French oak and goes wonderfully with pizza.
Highland Reserve is much darker than S'il Vous Plait, and is mostly Marechal Foch plus Cabernet Franc. It's an earthy blend, slightly tannic with dark berry flavors and a long, juicy finish. This is great with rich cheeses or beef dishes.
This red French hybrid is smooth and fruity, with a slightly tannic hint and cherry flavors. It's mellow and light, and would be lovely with a lighter meat, such as pork.
Visited in May 2002
All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.