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Wine Travel: Maine A Delight For Wine Lovers

May 18, 2008
As Chicagoans, we've always enjoyed the changing of the seasons. Spring brings rebirth and summer offers the warmth of all that's good about life. Autumn arrives in a blaze of color, while winter has its own quiet sense of beauty.

And so, in our travels, we tend to gravitate toward areas offering the best of all four seasons. We couldn't have found a better place than Maine. Maine is mountains, lakes, and rivers - an outdoor sports enthusiast's paradise. Maine is rugged picturesque coastline teeming with fresh seafood just waiting for you to sample. Maine is National Parks and trendy beaches. And Maine is a shopping and gastronomical delight.

Before we visited, a friend asked us, "Why Maine?" We responded that there are several good reasons to visit Maine. As we left after a one week visit, we agreed that we can't wait to return some day. There's literally a new discovery around every turn.

Maine Wine - Really?

Upon arriving in Portland, a charming port city about 100 miles from Boston, one of our first questions was directed to a farmers market vendor. Are grapes grown in Maine?

Yes. Grapes are grown here, despite a growing season 90 days shorter than Napa Valley. Numerous hardy varieties thrive here, along with several delectable types of fruit. We visited 7 wineries on this wonderful trip and enjoyed numerous well crafted wines, almost all produced from Maine grown grapes and fruit.

After enjoying Portland for a couple of days, we set out north from Portland up Route 302, just about 1/2 hour to Blacksmiths Winery, in Casco.

In the tasting room, we learned that Maine is well known for its blueberries. In fact, Maine is America's largest wild blueberry growing state, and many make their way into Blacksmiths Winery's Blueberry winem which is actually a blend of two wines. It is fragrant, off dry, and fruity, perfect for summer.

Blacksmiths also offers several traditional wine varieties, made from grapes imported from growers across the country. But we so enjoyed the blueberry, and the fact it's born from Maine soil, that we sampled another "grown in Maine" wine, the Elderberry.

Moving to the Mid Coast area, our next stop is Maine's very first winery, Cellar Door Winery and Vineyards, near Camden in the small community of Lincolnville. The winery is located on a farm that dates back to the 1790's, complete with a vineyard, orchards, and fruit trees. Sticking with the Maine blueberry theme, we tried and proudly purchased the Blue Lobster Blue, and enjoyed it later with ... what else ... lobster and bleu cheese.

Next it was off to Union, just a few miles west from Camden harbor, for a stop at two wineries. Union is home to Savage Oakes Winery and Sweetgrass Winery and Distillery.

We were intrigued by Savage Oakes tagline: "Featuring Maine Wines From Maine Grown Grapes". Owners Buddy and Holly Savage produce wine from nine different varieties of hybrid grapes, grown right on their 95 acre farm. On our visit, seven wines were available, all interesting and well made blends that highlight Buddy's deft hand and passion for winemaking.

Sweetgrass opened their winery in 2007, focusing upon fruit wines and their award winning Back River Gin, with fruit brandies next on the agenda. It's a picture book property, with a hiking trail that travels through the farm and overlooks the Medomak River Valley. Take advantage of the picnic area while enjoying a glass or two of their crisp and fruity Apple wine, or Bleujolais, a fruity and spicy blueberry offering. Of special note, the wine labels on their bottles are works of art in and of themselves!

In all, there are seven wineries in this beautiful state, each offering a unique experience for the wine travel lover. It was truly delightful to visit them all, and experience everything that Maine has to offer.
About the Author
Are you interested in learning additional about unique wine travel destinations? For additional information about this and other wine trails, be sure to visit our new website, dedicated to the enjoyment of wine travel.
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