A Workshop & Tasting with Montpelier VineyardsJune 21, 2019
In April the Vermont Fresh Network coordinated with Doug Becker of Montpelier Vineyards to host a workshop and tasting event. In honor of Earth Month, Hunger Mountain Co-op scheduled a series of events and this seemed like a natural and fun fit!
Attendees learned about our goals for the VT Wine Project (serve, sell, and become ambassadors for VT wine); some varieties grown in VT and why; what cold-hardy means for grapes in our climate (can survive to -30F); a bit about hybrid grapes and how they’ve come to be; some of the most common varieties you might come across in VT (Marquette, La Crescent…); and some of the current trends (orange wine, rosé, natural wine, ice wine…).
Doug then gave background on his vineyard and winemaking process with the help of his son, Andrew, and wife, Susan. Montpelier Vineyards is the only certified organic (VOF) winery and vineyard in the state and is also transitioning to biodynamic practices. They selected eleven varieties of cold-hardy wine grapes that grow well on their land. They take great care and pride in both the grape growing and winemaking processes, producing three wines for sale in stores and other innovative wine and mead that will be for sale in the future. All of their wines are natural, organic, unfiltered, and produced without sulfites.
“Montpelier Vineyard’s goal is to produce great tasting organic wines in Vermont. We believe that good wine begins in the vineyard, and that with healthy soil and vigorous vines we can create spirited wines: healthy soil, vigorous vines, spirited wines.”
Doug explained a bit about vineyard management and all it involves, like pruning, shoot thinning & positioning, leaf & cluster removal, and netting for birds. We learned about their pied de cuvée methods (wild yeast fermentation) and the fact that they grow grapes that do well in our climate and on their south facing hill, rather than those that are popular, making wine the way it’s been made for thousands of years.
Then, we had the opportunity to taste six of their products:
Orange Wine 2018: Frontenac Gris and Adalmiina
Méthode Champenoise White 2017: Sparkling wine
Méthode Champenoise Rosé 2017: Sparkling wine
Petite Pearl 2017: Single varietal red
Petite Pearl 2018: Single varietal red
Pyment Mead 2015: Made with honey and Sabrevois
We all enjoyed tasting the two Petite Pearl’s side-by-side, which were quite different products due to very different weather in 2017 and 2018. The Pyment Mead was Andrew Becker’s personal project, one of the innovative products he was inspired to try and hopefully continues.
Doug is a classically trained chef and started the vineyard in 2009 as a retirement project. Over the last twenty years, the family has encouraged and supported agricultural experimentation on their property. The vineyard and winery are just one result of their efforts and trials, but something they are very proud of. Doug aims to produce food that has a taste of place, terroir, amazing flavor, is nutritious, and simply gratifying.
The Beckers have an impressive repertoire of styles and are clearly skilled at what they do. We look forward to what the future holds for the winery when Doug transitions to retirement from culinary arts teaching in a couple years and has even more time to devote to winemaking!
Need a full-bodied Petite Pearl to pair with a dish or a crisp sparkling wine to enjoy this summer? Pick up Montpelier Vineyards wine at Hunger Mountain Co-op, Yankee Wine & Spirits, or Willey’s Store. Enjoy a glass at NECI on Main or Black Lantern Inn.
Are you a restaurant interested in meeting Doug and Andrew, sampling their wine, and possibly collaborating for a special wine pairing? Please get in touch!