No, I am not! I saw it with my own eyes …. and tasted the wine!
It really shouldn’t be that strange. New York State is just over the border from Vermont, and they make wine in New York! But it was sort of odd though; the national listing of wineries showed no wineries in Vermont, and the fellow in the seat next to me on the plane insisted that there was one 15 miles from his home in Springfield. I was returning from the Food and Wine show in San Francisco and he was on his way to visit a relative in San Diego.
He said that it was a new structure, on Highway 131, near Cavendish, between Ludlow and Downers. He said the winery had an Italian name.
Rosemarie and I were headed for Vermont in April to see the maple sap flow and witness the sugaring. It was something we had read about, and wanted to know more about. A marvelous product of nature. We now had a quest for a winery too! (Throw in another objective for the trip: to visit the factory of Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream. Have you had any? Time Magazine rated it the best in America!)
Well, here we were in Vermont for several days now, and no restaurant or inn knew of a Vermont winery. When I told them what I did, and where I was from, they sort of looked funny at me, like I should know better. The map showed that Cavendish was not very far. To avoid any more quizzical looks, we decided to search for it ourselves. The drive through the village was non-productive. The little service store, however, told us that in fact, there was a winery in Cavendish, and that we could not miss it, it was on the left, down the road ahead.
By George, there it was all of a sudden! A big sign, and beautiful new building, with a big wood paneled door. The sign said Joseph Cerniglia Winery, and the building looked like it could be a transplant from Napa. We had to go over a bridge to get to it, and their road was washed out from the rain and flooding the night before. A man came out the door, with a case over his shoulder, and walked to his car with it. A familiar sight that confirmed the find!
We went in, and immediately confirmed the fact. The aroma was somewhat familiar. The showroom was beautiful. Just like the touristy Napa showrooms. We punched the bell on the counter. Out came a robust winery type, who introduced himself as Joe Cerniglia.
Well, with the owner greeting you personally, I thought I better start with a positive note! “You have a beautiful showroom here,” I said. “Thank you,” he said, “John Parducci was here recently and gave us some good ideas.” No wonder it had a California wine country feeling! One of our monarchs had been by to check him out!
When I told Joe what I did, and why I was there, he led us to his tasting room. While we were walking over, he told me he was the only winery in the United States, and maybe the world, that made varietal wine!
My mind had to stop a second and re-scan that statement. I had to be polite, but I was not going to let that pronouncement go uncontested for very long. I thought I better wait a minute and see what he had.
Well, Joe reached under the counter and started lining up his bottles. Seven in all. “These are the varietals I produce,” he said.
I reached for the first bottle. Red Delicious Semi-Dry, it read! The others were-Golden Delicious Limited Reserve, Granny Smith Limited Reserve, Northern Spy, Empire, Perry, and McIntosh Dry.
After the re-orientation, and shedding of the mental blocks that had fuzzed up my thinking machine, I settled down to attempting a serious tasting session. Prejudice aside, the first four from the seven in the list above were rather interesting. The residual sugar ranged from .5% to 4%. Alcohol was 11%. My favorite was Granny Smith (.5% sugar). If any apple wine approaches a grape wine, this one did. It had overtones of a Vouvray (a chenin blanc from France).
“Tell you what, Paul,” said Joe, “If you will feature one of my wines, I will drive out the truckload myself.”
Do I dare?
It was lots of fun anyway!