While the New Hampshire State motto may be “Live Free or Die”, we like to think of it as the Live Free State of Wine, whether you are a local or lucky visitor, discovering New Hampshire never gets old. Travel today is about choosing the right destination and how we travel.
New Hampshire is blessed with 7 distinct tourist regions, 6 produce wine, each region has their own personality and unique landscape that include a pleasing ocean and roaring rivers, picture perfect pastures, rustic farms, fresh water lakes, mountains, and valleys that are lined with grape vineyards, apple orchards and berry fields.
Spending a day or more touring is a wonderful way to experience the 21 wineries, vineyards, mead and cider houses that make up the New Hampshire Winery Association (NHWA). Sample award winning grape and fruit wines, including cider and mead at local wineries, farms and tasting rooms. They are offered in every imaginable style - still, sparkling, dry, semi-dry, rosé and sweet - bottled and canned. Savor fresh local foods such as honey, cheese, charcuterie, mustards and jams. Stretch your body and mind in the vineyards practicing yoga or walking through vineyard blocks discovering different grapes on the vine. Outdoor seating is available at all places.
Though New Hampshire has a small coastline, the 18 miles are long enough to enjoy beautiful white sandy beaches and many specialties of the Seacoast. Portsmouth, a hip and thriving waterfront location is the quintessential New England destination known for a variety of epicurean delights. The food and wine scene is one of the best around. Fresh local lobster, clams, oysters and haddock are perfect pairings for local wines made in the Seacoast region. LaBelle Winery has a tasting room in the city center. A short drive away, Squamscott Vineyard & Winery in Newfields just opened a new tasting room in a historic colonial home, Flag Hill Distillery & Winery added tiny cabins for lodging. Zorvino Vineyards offers 50 wines and Sweet Baby Vineyard includes vegetable wines to their tasting menu. Everyone gives an educational and tasteful visit.
As you venture away from the Seacoast there are other regions to travel to for more delicious adventures. A first stop may be The Merrimack Valley, home to the state’s capital, Concord, and on down the Merrimack River to Manchester, the Queen city, and finally Nashua, the Gate City. LaBelle, the largest winery in the NHWA has 2 locations here with vineyards, restaurants, and a mini golf course. Moonlight Meadery also has 2 locations serving a large selection of award-winning meads. Ancient Fire Mead & Cider provides an ever-changing selection of meads and cider that pair perfectly with their food, Averill House Vineyard features a real New England lifestyle that embraces the 1800's with traditional crafted wines, Meadow Vineyards is the only brewery, distillery and winery all at one location. Birch Wood Vineyards is a special event venue with a new tasting room opening soon, Black Bear Vineyard specializes in producing only grape wines, and Incredibrew/Grape Time Winery is where you go to make your own wine. Haunting Whisper Vineyards & Spirits with stunning views sits on the cusp of the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region.
The Lakes Region, with Lake Winnipesaukee as the anchor, is where wild grapevines were discovered by one of the first winemakers in the state. This region continues to produce an array of steadfast winemakers. Hermit Woods Winery & Deli made NH fruit wines famous for their Blueberry wine featured on the Today Show. Other great stops are Crazy Cat Winery located near Newfound Lake, a lake known for its crystal clear water adds fun events such as line-dancing, yoga, and craft classes. Winnipesaukee Winery in Wolfeboro is the only winery/B&B with a large barn full of antiques for a fabulous shopping experience, and Whippletree Winery in Tamworth is at the border of the breathtaking White Mountains.
Outdoor enthusiasts will especially enjoy the White Mountains Region with its rugged terrain and endless beauty, home to some of the most spectacular hiking and scenic vistas in the east, especially during fall foliage. With the addition of several of the Northeast’s premier ski resorts, the White Mountains are truly a 4-season destination. Seven Birches Winery in Lincoln is conveniently located within the grand RiverWalk Resort at Loon Mountain and just a stone’s throw away from the world famous Kancamagus Scenic Byway that leads you to White Mountain Winery and the popular North Conway area.
The Monadnock Region in the southwestern part of the state, along the Connecticut River, is an area filled with small quaint towns and rich in history. Mount Monadnock, the most climbed mountain in the country, has views of all six New England states from the summit. For over 100 years the famous MacDowell Colony in Peterborough has been a special place for writers and artists to kinder their creative spirits in solitude. The Summit Winery and Poocham Hill Winery in Westmoreland have their own artistic style that shows through in their wines.
While touring, you can easily meet the winemakers and farmers who grow a variety of grapes and other wine fruits. They are on hand to help you understand their passion for making wine in New Hampshire. Winemakers are also found at some local farmers markets held throughout the state where you may meet, sample, and purchase their products.
New Hampshire wineries are known to go above and beyond the typical tasting experience. Some offer barrel samples, accommodations and good old-fashioned grape stomping.
Choose one of the many restaurants to wine and dine and enjoy an array of mouth-watering local products. Visit historic general stores that take you back in time. Savor the stunning scenery along the ocean, lakes, rivers and mountains. Visit Mount Washington, where the fastest wind gust on earth was ever recorded. It’s an easy drive to the top where you can take in the majestic views.
You can swim, surf, bike, hike, boat & sail, kayak & canoe, fish, camp, ski, race car events, and more in the Granite State to supplement your wine adventures. Enjoy!
The NHWA also has a winery passport available at each participating winery and for download on the website. Prizes are awarded for those that visit them all.