This past weekend I visited Sweet Baby Vineyard in East Kingston for its label release event. Owners Lewis and Stacey Eaton decided it was time to redesign their wine bottle labels, letting go of the labels they’d had since they opened the winery in 2008. They worked with Be Good Branding and Pixels & Pulp to create the winery’s new brand and labels, which is fun and whimsical and still very “sweet.”
Lewis said that while the old labels meant a lot to them (their daughter’s hands were pictured on them), they felt it was time for a change and wanted something that would get noticed on supermarket shelves. The new labels include more information about their commitment to local farms and list the farms that grow their fruit. They also note that 10 percent of profits will be donated to the farmers because they believe that growing local and supporting local businesses is so important.
I had already seen the new labels in my local supermarket and thought what a nice gift these bottles would make during the holidays. If you are looking for Sweet Baby wines in stores, please note their Kensington White and Kensington Red are now Chardonnay and Amarone, named for their grapes. The winery used to be located in Kensington in the Eatons’ home, but they moved to a new location in East Kingston last year. This gave them more production space and room to house events like this one. If you haven’t seen their new tasting room yet, I highly recommend visiting.
I was excited to try two new Sweet Baby wines, as they recently added pinot grigio and cabernet sauvignon to their lineup. While these are not wines I would typically choose to drink, I was impressed with both. The pinot grigio is off-dry and smooth, not acidic like some can be. I’m not sure I would have known it was a pinot grigio in a blind tasting and that made me like it that much more. The cabernet was dry but also very smooth with a nice finish. I could see that wine pairing well with pasta dishes or steak. Sweet Baby made a believer out of me — I took home a bottle of each.
Because I like sweet wines, I like Sweet Baby’s Bartlett pear, a dessert-style wine, and the apple and blueberry wines, both semi-sweet. The pear wine is light in color but rich in flavor and could be enjoyed at the end of a meal all by itself. Pairing recommendations include cheese like warm brie.
The apple wine is smooth, crisp and a great wine for fall. Made from New Hampshire apples, it would go well with pork or chicken dishes and even desserts like apple crisp or cobbler.
The blueberry wine is also made from New Hampshire fruit. This wine is medium bodied and resembles more of a red wine than a fruit one, though it is enjoyed chilled. I love the aroma and flavor of this wine, along with its rich, purple hue. Try this wine with cheesecake for a delicious pairing.
While I enjoyed these wines, the Amarone was my favorite of the day. Lewis told me I was going to like it and he was right. I went home with two bottles. This wine is full-bodied and rich, with notes of blackberries and raspeberries. While dry wines aren’t usually my favorite, this one has a smooth finish and softer tannins. While recommended pairings are Italian foods, meats, stews and cheese, I will probably be sipping this wine on its own during the fall and winter months.
Sweet Baby Vineyard is located at 14 Powwow River Road in East Kingston. It is open year round on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. and Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. Visit sweetbabyvineyard.com.
In other New Hampshire wine news, Candia Vineyards has won some medals for its wine this year. At the Big E, their Diamond won gold; their Noiret and Crescent won silver medals. At the Atlantic Seaboard Wine Competition, they were the only winery from Maine or New Hampshire to win a medal. Their Ice Storm took home a silver medal. At the International Eastern Wine Competition, Diamond won a silver medal. Candia Vineyards was also the only winery from Maine, Massachusetts or New Hampshire to be recognized with a medal. Visit candiavineyards.com.