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The excitement of the first buds breaking, photo by Flag Hill Distillery & Winery
The excitement of the first buds breaking, photo by Flag Hill Distillery & Winery

Spring is a lively, daring time in the New Hampshire vineyard. Between March and April, when temperatures warm to about 50°F (10°C), buds burst from the vines, unfurling pink and green pastel shoots, known as bud break. Through April and May, the shoots mature into rich vegetation, and by May and June, the vibrant greenery begins flowering with wishes for summer’s warmth, all amidst the imminent risk of a spring frost.

The origins of our member wineries share a lot in common with this spring vine cycle. Like buds soaking in the promise of the sun – regardless of mother nature’s unpredictability, our winery owners believed in their ideas, striving for all that could go well – despite all that might not.

Galileo gave us a precious way to think of this tenuous space between thriving and coming undone. He wrote that “Wine is sunlight held together by water.” Repurposing this depiction of wine’s delicately composed elements, one could say that winegrowing and making are hope held together by hard work, intertwining both vulnerability and resolve.

Each of our 16 member wineries has a unique beginning that has blossomed into what they share with their guests today. Here are 6 of these origin stories to inspire your winery travels this spring, itinerary ideas included. As you visit our member wineries, you still have time to complete the 2023-2024 Wine Trail Passport through April, and by early summer, look for the release of our new custom mobile app for the NH Wine Trail!


Asked about the genesis of Averill House Vineyard, in Brookline, NH, winemaker Bob Waite describes an experience that changed his and his family’s life path:

“In the spring of 2012, during a memorable trip to Spain with my sister, nieces, and mom, along with my daughter Beth, a captivating encounter unfolded in Malaga. While exploring the picturesque hillside, we spotted a solitary donkey ambling along, seemingly on its own. Concerned for its safety, we followed closely, ensuring it stayed clear of the bustling streets.

To our astonishment, our donkey guide led us to a charming family winery nestled atop the hill. There, a peculiar sight greeted us – a queue of patient donkeys, each waiting their turn to transport casks of wine downhill to the family cellar. Spellbound by the experience, we spent the afternoon immersed in the winemaking process, inspired by the familial bond and tradition.

This serendipitous encounter ignited a spark within us, fueling discussions and plans for our own vineyard. Thus, spring became synonymous with the transformative moment when my adult children resolved to pool our diverse talents and shared passion, birthing the dream of Averill House Vineyard."

Stephanie & Beth Waite ready for spring pruning, photo by Averill House Vineyard
Stephanie & Beth Waite ready for spring pruning, photo by Averill House Vineyard

12 years later, Bob, his son, and his two daughters nostalgically welcome spring to the family vineyard to blossom their cherry and peach trees, awaken the surrounding maples, and signal that it is time to unveil their maple-infused wines and wine ice creams – including Maple Mango Moscato, Sweet Moonlight Maple Raspberry Merlot, and Sweet Night Maple Cherry Wine. They also just released their Sakura-Fubuki, an aged Cherry Wine that translates to “Cherry Blossom Blizzard” and greets the palate in a flurry of flavors.

Alongside this bustle in the tasting room, the Averill House team is still hands-on outside. With meticulous care, they tend their 500 grapevines and trim their 2 pear trees, which – along with 12 kiwi trees and many different berry bushes – are part of their expansion into sparkling wine and cider. In the meantime, they are excited to have ordered their first juice from both Chile and South Africa.

Visiting options abound at Averill House Vineyard this spring, from their award-winning Vineyard Tour & Tasting to their Felt Flowers Workshop and Mother’s Day High Tea Brunch. You might even plan a winery hop by stopping by our other member wineries in the Merrimack Valley region: Birch Wood Vineyards in Derry and LaBelle Winery in both Amherst and Derry. For even more nearby destination ideas, including museums, theaters, historic buildings, restaurants, and more, consider this list of attractions.


In 2011, Bill Meserve and Bob Elliot purchased 12 acres of overgrown hayfield on the Squamscott River in Newfields, NH. They wanted to regenerate the property by planting a few dozen vines for a venture in hobby winemaking. 13 years and 2400 vines later, the hayfield is Squamscott Vineyard & Winery, where Bill is the viticulturist and Bob the winemaker of their Blue Heron Wines, which they offer at their 1792 renovated tasting house, a half-mile away.

Bill and Bob might never have expected their hobby to become their business, but if success is doing what you love, theirs was inevitable, for they planted and fermented themselves back to things they loved as children. Bill loved his grandmother’s flowers and helping in his father’s vegetable garden, both of which inspired his own knack for growing things. Bob loved sitting for hours at the family table, where his grandparents spoke Italian and the wine glasses were full the whole meal through, traditions that gave him a life-long fondness for wine and for family-run, locally-focused vineyards.

A light spring fog lifts over vines ready for pruning, photo by Squamscott Vineyard & Winery
A light spring fog lifts over vines ready for pruning, photo by Squamscott Vineyard & Winery

Today, Bill views springtime in the vineyard with both interest and appreciation: “Spring work in the vineyard, for me, is very relaxing and full of expectations. I marvel at the amount of growth that occurred the previous year that is removed. Each vine is unique, and training and pruning decisions are as well. Spring vineyard work is very zen.”

For a taste of Bill’s zen from the vineyard and Bob’s zing from the fermenting room, give them a visit on Saturdays from 12-5pm at their Newfields tasting house, where everyone is warmly welcomed.

With so many things to do in the area, make a day of it and stop by our other member wineries in the Seacoast region: Flag Hill Distillery & Winery in Lee, Sweet Baby Vineyard in Hampstead, and Zorvino Vineyards in Sandown.


Asked what spring is like for them in Lee, NH, the Flag Hill Distillery & Winery vineyard team shares their anticipation for the season: “Each year has its own excitement and apprehension. With 14 acres to prune, there is always a rush of anxiety as we try to get everything ready before those buds break!”

Spring pruning accomplished, photo by Flag Hill Distillery & Winery
Spring pruning accomplished, photo by Flag Hill Distillery & Winery

The work the vineyard team does today all started with Frank & Linda Reinhold, the original owners and founders of Flag Hill. When Frank & Linda inherited the family farm in Lee, NH, its open space reminded them of California wine country, and their love for vineyards and wine gave them an idea. Looking over the farm, they imagined the fields growing grapes, and they began planting vines. Over 30 years later, Frank & Linda’s west coast inspired vineyard is proudly New Hampshire grown.

With construction of a new tasting deck underway, there will be even more space for guests to enjoy Flag Hill’s special view of a Granite State vineyard. In the meantime, head over to see the freshly pruned vines and to discover what spring’s maple sugaring season has brought to the tasting house – cocktails like their Maple Blueberry Old Fashioned, featuring Flag Hill’s Maple Bourbon Whiskey, and the Maple Mule, featuring their Sugar Maple Liqueur.

Maple Blueberry Old Fashioned, photo by Flag Hill Distillery & Winery
Maple Blueberry Old Fashioned, photo by Flag Hill Distillery & Winery

When you visit Flag Hill Distillery & Winery this spring, consider saving some time to explore the Seacoast region, and be sure to stop in at our other member wineries in the region: Squamscott Vineyard & Winery in Newfields, Sweet Baby Vineyard in Hampstead, and Zorvino Vineyards in Sandown.


Based in Concord, NH, owner and vigneron Nicholas (Nico) Kimberly shares that, in fact, his taste buds hold the origin story of NOK Vino, including its mission to collaboratively regenerate farmland and grow natural wines throughout the Granite State:

“I tasted 2 different bottles of wine in 2017 that changed my life. They were so compelling, expressive, and alive – I never knew that wine could be like that! These experiences inspired me to better understand the work of growing organic grapes and guiding wild fermentations, and I left cheesemaking behind to pursue natural winegrowing in Vermont. After two years with my mentors at La Garagista, I returned to my home state of New Hampshire to farm grapes at SHARA Vineyards, helping them launch their natural wine label. In 2022, I founded NOK Vino, and we began revitalizing vineyards throughout New Hampshire, focusing on gentle pruning and regenerative farming techniques.”

Young Sabrevois shoot at Mountain View Vineyard, Walpole, NH, photo by Nico Kimberly
Young Sabrevois shoot at Mountain View Vineyard, Walpole, NH, photo by Nico Kimberly

For Nico and his team, spring is when they see the results of hand-pruning their 7500 vines up and down New Hampshire: “We start our pruning in January, when the vines are fully dormant, and finish in the beginning of May, right before the vines emerge from dormancy and begin to push out their buds for the season. Pruning is one of our favorite vineyard tasks, an intimate dialogue between human and vine, for our mutual flourishing. There's nothing like looking at a vineyard that you've pruned – what a sense of accomplishment!”

On the coldest spring days, Nico and the team work in the cellar blending and bottling their sparkling wines & ciders, which are available at two farmers’ markets: the Sunapee Market, Saturdays 9am-12pm, year round, and the Lebanon Market, Thursdays 4-7pm, May-September. While in the area, consider a visit to our other Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee wineries: Black Bear Vineyard in Salisbury, and Haunting Whisper Vineyard & Spirits in Danbury (opening for the season May 1st). To add to your outing, here are more destinations to explore in the region, from maple sugar shacks to cafes, breweries, and more.


Tracing his interest in fermenting to its beginning, winemaker Mark LaClair draws a line back to his teen years and into the cellar of family friends who crafted wine from their own fruit. Now the owner of Seven Birches Winery in Lincoln, NH, Mark recounts how it all began:

“When I was in high school, we had family friends that made wine at home from fruits they had growing on their property. I remember thinking at the time that it was ‘very cool’, though I didn't really know wine beyond the plonk that my family drank on special occasions. In college I was exposed to wine by friends that worked in fine dining. By the time I graduated from college, wine had become my first choice for a beverage. I loved everything about it: the varieties, the history, the culture, and eventually, how it was made.”

By 2007, Mark had bought his first wine kit and was experimenting with fruits of all sorts. Two years later, he gave away a bottle of his homemade apple wine; it was a beginner’s vintage whose spirit aged more robustly than Mark could have ever imagined. This gift of fermented apples inspired a conversation that led to the founding of Seven Birches Winery in 2010 and foretold of Rhythm Cider, the winery’s stand-alone cider brand that launched in 2020.

Matured shoots begin blossoming behind the RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain, photo by Seven Birches Winery
Matured shoots begin blossoming behind the RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain, photo by Seven Birches Winery

These days, Mark quips that his wine hobby has grown a little, and it’s true. In the past 14 years, Seven Birches outgrew its original location at North Haverhill’s Windy Ridge Orchard, established its main operation and tasting room within the RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain, and opened its Atrium Wine Bar and Rhythm Studio in the Lincoln Village Shops.

In winter 2023, the winery began its next big transition, an expansion to include all its offerings in a single location. Slated for completion late spring 2024, the winery will soon unveil its relocated Atrium Wine Bar and Rhythm Studio as well as the introduction of its new Club Lounge for wine club and special events, all within the Riverwalk Resort at Loon Mountain. During all these changes, work continues in the vineyard, where Mark and his team are finishing pruning their 528 hybrid vines in the resort’s back yard.

This spring, visit Seven Birches Winery to experience the newly pruned vineyard, its beautiful mountain view, and the winery’s exciting expansions inside. When you plan your trip, consider stopping by our other member wineries in the White Mountain region – Alpine Garden Winery in Bartlett and White Mountain Winery in North Conway. From ziplines to waterfall hikes and cafes to maple sugaring wonderlands, there is plenty to explore on your travels through this beautiful



Here is the story of Hermit Woods Winery & Eatery in Meredith, NH. The people in it suggest that you definitely try this at home, but because the story has been greatly abridged, they also urge you to read between the lines.

Sometime in the early 2000s, Bob Manley, a photographer, was making awful beer. A sympathetic friend introduced him to Ken Hardcastle, a geologist, who was making great beer. Rather than learning from Ken, Bob decided to befriend him and drink his beer instead. As their friendship grew, including their mutual interest in mountain biking, Ken introduced Bob to Chuck Lawrence, a pilot, who also liked cycling, and they became a cycling, drinking trio.

A photographer, a geologist, and a pilot got on a bike, photo by Steve Marsel Studio
A photographer, a geologist, and a pilot got on a bike, photo by Steve Marsel Studio

Around 2005, Ken tried his first commercial wine kits and was excited to learn just how many fermentables were in his own backyard. It didn’t take long before the fermenting possibilities that the cycling trio wanted to explore had outgrown the kits. The logical solution was to road trip with their wives in Chuck’s inherited family van. Mission: find whole fruit to ferment. Destination: Boston’s docks. Result: low quality grapes, stops at wineries on the way home, and a half-hatched idea to start their own winery where other vans of people would want to stop.

The wine from that first batch of grapes was as poor as the fruit that made it, but the trio eventually found a vendor who cared about the grapes he was importing, and Ken’s wine began to taste like they all imagined it could. This meant it was time to plant a vineyard, so in 2007, Bob’s backyard became the experimental home to 120 vines, and while those matured, the friends continued their fermenting experiments with New Hampshire’s plethora of local fruit.

By 2010, their hobby had become an obsession that their wives were still supportively tolerating, so the photographer, the pilot, and the geologist took the opening to sideline their careers just enough to start a winery. Bob’s house became the production site and tasting room, and the trio named their venture after a nearby forest, Hermit Woods, which got its moniker from its 19th century resident hermit, Joseph Plummer, who was himself a talented, if curmudgeonly, fermenter.

After 3 years of growth and a successful crowdfunding campaign – including contributions from NH farmers, the operation moved to downtown Meredith. By 2014, the Hermit Woods tasting room opened, and thanks to Bob’s, Ken’s, and Chuck’s wives and employees, they didn’t close.

Time to spring into sidewalk seating, photo by Hermit Woods Winery
Time to spring into sidewalk seating, photo by Hermit Woods Winery

Hermit Woods Winery & Eatery is still open, and its owner-friends are as glad as ever to share their ferments with you. They also proudly introduce their newly imagined eatery, now headed by Kaylon Sweet – former Chef-owner of Osteria Poggio in Center Harbor. Inspired by Chef Sweet’s travels, the eatery features Sweet Mercy, a farm-to-table menu of American flavors with global influences that take you from the streets of New York to the markets of Marrakech.

So when you go for a tasting, stay for dinner and one of the winery’s many evenings of music. Or make it a day by exploring downtown Meredith and other area offerings, including a distillery, science center, sugar shack and more. And of course, be sure to visit our other member winery in the Lakes Region, Whippletree Winery in Tamworth.


The New Hampshire Winery Association is thrilled to announce the early summer release of our new custom mobile app for the NH Wine Trail. The app will provide a seamless way for you to discover and connect with all our member wineries throughout the Granite State. Available on iOS and Android platforms, and published in iTunes and Google Play stores, the app will showcase winery offerings, events, and specials. It will also feature an interactive map, allowing you to collect digital ‘stamps’ from each member winery when visiting its tasting room. Stay

tuned for the release of this NH Wine Trail app and all its exciting features and perks, including prizes for visiting each winery on the trail.


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