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NH hearts wine
Plus, barrel tasting news

09/11/14
By Stefanie Phillips food@hippopress.com



Good news my fellow New Hampshire wine lovers! According to the American Wine Consumer Coalition’s 2013 report card, the Granite State gets an A+ when it comes to consumers’ access to wine. 
 
The report looks at “how friendly the 50 states’ and District of Columbia’s wine laws are to its wine consumers.” New Hampshire tied with six other states also receiving high marks: California, District of Columbia, Missouri, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia. 
 
What makes New Hampshire so wine consumer friendly? The report is based on several factors, including: access to wine in grocery stores; the ability to have wine shipped from any winery or any wine retailer; the ability to purchase wine on Sundays; access to bring your own (BYO) restaurants and no state monopoly on the sale of wine. 
 
According to the report card, “no state treats wine consumers better than New Hampshire given its laws that provide outstanding access to wine and its laws that provide wine lovers with great convenience.” 
 
Basically, it’s pretty easy to get wine here and we “live free or die” without a lot of restrictions or a wine tax. We can buy wine from liquor stores, wine shops, grocery stores and have it shipped directly to our homes from wineries or out of state stores. 
 
And, if you prefer to enjoy a bottle of your own with dinner, some restaurants will allow you to bring it with you and even re-cork it for you at the end of your meal.
 
We really do love our wine. According to a recent opinion column by Reid Wilson in the Washington Post, we consume 19.6 liters of wine per capita, per year here in New Hampshire. We are second only to the District of Columbia. (Part of this probably includes sales in New Hampshire where the wine may be consumed elsewhere, in neighboring states with taxes and higher prices.)
 
The states at the bottom of the list include our southern neighbors, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and states to the south like Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky. 
Oklahoma and Utah were at the very bottom of the list, guilty of putting the most restrictions on their wine loving consumers. 
 
The American Wine Consumer Coalition’s purpose is to advance and protect the rights of wine lovers across the country and they have some interesting information on their website. 
 
Visit wineconsumers.org to check it out.
 
Barrel Tasting Weekend 2014 
 
Speaking of access to wine, the annual Lakes Region Barrel Tasting Weekend is coming up soon. Keep Oct. 4 and 5 open on your calendar because this is an event not to be missed! 
 
During this weekend, six New Hampshire wineries will open their doors to guests. They include: Coffin Cellars in Webster, Gilmanton Winery in Gilmanton, Sap House Meadery in Center Ossippee, Haunting Whisper Vineyards in Danbury, Hermit Woods Winery in Meredith and Newfound Lake Vineyards in Bristol. 
 
In addition to some regular tastings, the wineries will offer special tastings of young wines directly from the oak and steel barrels that are used to ferment and age them. 
 
This is a unique opportunity to not only taste the wines, but meet the winemakers and tour their wineries. 
 
Many wineries also have additional local vendors selling their products during the weekend. Anyone who visits multiple wineries will be entered into a drawing for prizes. 
 
This event is fashioned after one that Bob Manley of Hermit Woods attended with his wife in California some years back. We are lucky they have made it happen here in New Hampshire and we have local wineries to open up their doors for a more behind the scenes look at their wine operations. 
 
This is probably my favorite wine event of the year. Even if you can only visit a few wineries, I highly recommend attending. Get a couple friends together and enjoy the fall in New Hampshire while supporting some really great local businesses. 
 
The only cost is $12 toward the purchase of a 19-ounce commemorative Barrel Tasting Weekend wine glass. This is your “ticket” to participate in the event at all six wineries. I also suggest bringing along a little extra in case you want to bring any wine home with you. 
 
For more information, updates, a map of the wineries and short video on this event, visit hermitwoods.com/event/barreltasting
 
 
 





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