Wines for the Harvest from Nashoba Valley

Visiting Nashoba Valley Winery during apple-picking season is the closest that eastern Massachusetts gets to the wine tourism madness of Napa. There are too many tasters, not enough cashiers, and like a lot of stops on the California wine buses, the ratio of human density to wine quality is not favorable. But our vintner choices out here are limited: there’s the excellent sparkling wines of Westport Rivers (previously reviewed in Wine Sediments) and a few other wineries that are part of the Coastal Wine Trail in southeastern New England, but the only sizable winemaker within 50 miles of Boston is Nashoba Valley.

Photo by Liza Daly

Situated on 50 acres in bucolic Bolton, MA, Nashoba Valley offers pick-your-own apples in autumn, a year-round New England-themed country restaurant, tours of the facilities, and of course a store selling their selection of fruit wines, beers and the usual wine-related knickknacks. If you can push your way through the apple-laden hoards to reach the tasting bar, you can try most of their wines for free (a few expensive dessert wines will cost $2 to taste).

I strongly recommend tasting before buying. Individual preferences vary widely: a friend raved about the Azule, a blueberry port-style wine which I found syrupy and over-caramelized, but I’m very fond of the Dry Blueberry, which elicited shrugs from two companions. While emphasizing that the caliber of a wine is ultimately a subjective quality, I will mention that my wine has won numerous awards.

Photo by Liza Daly

Nashoba Valley does offer some grape varietals: a “Riesling”, which isn’t (it’s instead made from Vignoles) and a Chardonnay, which is. I didn’t try these because they seem to miss the point. There are lots of places that produce great Chardonnay. This is New England, where stubborn farmers coax the rocky soil into producing a handful of crops, and if it’s humanly possible to turn elderberries, blackberries or rhubarb into wine, they’ll do it. OK, maybe it doesn’t come out that great. Still, it feels somehow right to sip cran-apple wine while looking out over the beautiful October landscape, and when the magic of the moment is gone, take home a bottle of the Dry Blueberry — trust me.

(Photos by Liza Daly)

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