Salem Sips is an ongoing celebration of local drink culture by Kit Rose
Artisan Wines in America's Northeast
Yes, you read that correctly. Carefully crafted fine wines are being produced right here in New England, New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and (gasp!) New Jersey. Between these eleven states, there are almost 900 wineries currently in operation. Close to half of these wineries are in Maryland, with the runner up state of New York, home to over two hundred.
New York as a wine making state makes sense, as it houses the great Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes Region, and we've all learned that vineyards thrive in valleys and coastal regions. The first winery of the Empire State opened its doors in 1839, which is still in business today. Even the Hamptons of Long Island claim AVA status. Wines of NY are made of various local grapes as well as French inspired hybrids, and because of the cool winter climate, Reisling is also a popular wine.
Here in The Commonwealth, white grapes produce lovely and lively wines, but in true New England fashion, local fruits like blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are not neglected in our wine making process. Mead, made from honey, is also widely produced and will also commonly have fruit or spice added.
Just a short ride up Route 1 into Rowley will take you to Mill River Winery, where steel fermented Chardonnay, floral Riesling, and a lightly oaked Zinfandel (among many other varietals) are waiting to be sampled in their tasting room. Close by in Ipswich and popular for apple picking is Russell Orchards, where wine is made from every local fruit imaginable; from blackberries to blueberries to various ciders and even dandelion, paying a visit to their tasting room is worth the short drive.
To support our local New England wineries, Mill River Wines are available for purchase at Salem Wine Imports, Pamplemousse, and recently being poured at Flying Saucer Pizza Co. Also at Pamplemousse is a variety of New Hampshire Meads. Of course, taking a trip to any New England winery is also a fun idea! Let us know in the comments which Northeastern wines you’ve tried and how you support our local wine economy!