Saturday morning did, indeed, find Christy and me heading north to Wilmington, Vermont and the 2nd Annual Vermont Life Wine & Harvest Festival. We couldn’t have asked for a better day; the weather was absolutely perfect with the deep blue skies highlighting the trees which were beginning to paint the hills in the vibrant reds, golds and oranges of a New England Autumn.
After breakfasting on eggs, pancakes and fantastic bacon and sausages from Vermont Smoke & Cure, we headed over to the wine festival, which we found somewhat disappointing. First, it was a lot smaller than I expected, with only six wineries and one distillery represented (there are approximately 20 wineries in the state).
Second, despite paying an admission fee for the festival, there were additional charges for tastings, which took us by surprise. We anticipated fees for glasses of wine, but expected the tastings to be included with the price of admission as they have been at other festivals. Granted the tastings were only $1 or $2 for a sampling of 3-5 wines, but it still struck a wrong note. Later in the day Christy discovered that state law prohibits vendors from giving away alcohol, and so to get around that the festival requires wineries to charge a small tasting fee. I gather the admission fee doesn’t “count” under Vermont state law. I just wish that had been clearly advertised.
Despite being open for several hours by the time we arrived, the crowds were still manageable, and we were able to make our way through the wine and food tent without a lot of waiting in line. Two of our favorite finds were the Eden Ice Cider (sublime) and the Sapling Vermont Maple Liqueur (very sweet, but quite interesting).
The rest of the day included a visit to the local weekend flea market & antiques fair, a stroll through downtown Wilmington (and purchase of maple candies and cookies for Christy’s fiancée, Jeff), and a leisurely drive into the Green Mountain National Forest to see the foliage. We ended the day at The Hermitage Inn with a wine and cheese reception featuring local artisanal cheeses and the wines of Boyden Valley Winery. The event, hosted by winemaker David Boyden, was held in the Inn’s wine cellar and featured five Boyden Valley Wines (2 whites and 3 reds) and 7 local artisanal cheeses. We enjoyed all the wines, with the Big Barn Red and Riverbend Red being the favorites. Among the cheeses the Boucher Family Farm Gore Dawn Zola, Taylor Farm Smoked Maple Gouda, and Lakes End Champlain Chevre were my favorites. All in all a relaxed and relaxing event, and a perfect end to the day.