When it comes to reasons to visit Maine, most people think of the beautiful coast and forests, as well as the world-renowned lobster. However, the Pine Tree State also boasts a number of exceptional wineries that make the most of the region’s short growing season.
The following are two of the best wineries to visit in Maine.
Located in Lincolnville between the Levenseller and Cameron Mountains, Cellardoor Winery has planted some 5,000 North American cold-hardy hybrid vines. The vineyard is surrounded by forest with plenty of wildlife, including moose, bears, deer, and gophers. Despite the short growing season and variable weather, the vines benefit from growing in 10 to 12 inches of fertile topsoil and heavy clay, and the staff at Cellardoor Winery look at the tough climate as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle, to grow high-quality fruit.
While Cellardoor Winery uses its own grapes, it also partners with excellent vineyards across the country in Washington to produce a number of outstanding, award-winning wines. The winery’s red wine selection includes the award-winning Ned Said Red, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Carménère, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cabernet Sauvignon. This wine won the Double Gold Medal at the 2017 New York World Wine and Spirits Competition in the Best Bordeaux Blend category, as well as the Gold Medal at the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
Another red wine that saw success at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition is the Pinot Noir, which won the Double Gold Medal two years in a row (2018 and 2019) and earned an impressive 95 points in 2018. Made with 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes, this wine features notes of wild blueberry, vanilla, ripe red cherry, and spice.
White wine enthusiasts should try the Chenin Blanc, which was named Best in Class at the 2019 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. This wine features honeysuckle aromas and a bit of ginger flavor. Cellardoor Winery’s other award-winning white wines include the Gewürztraminer, which has an aroma of lychee fruit and lime zest finish on the palate. The Gewürztraminer has won five Silver Medals at major wine competitions, including the 2017 San Francisco International Wine Competition and the 2018 San Diego International Wine and Spirits Challenge.
Finally, Cellardoor Winery produces a number of unique specialty wines, including the Bulle Rosé, which is made exclusively with grapes from Maine, 76 percent of which were grown on-site. This pink wine offers pomegranate and strawberry jam flavors and a finish of orange zest.
Visitors can sample Cellardoor Winery’s excellent wines in its tasting room, which sits in a 200-year-old barn. The winery also hosts a number of special events, including wine pairings, where guests can sample complimentary wine with various foods, such as Maine lobster. To learn more about this exceptional Maine winery, visit mainewine.com.
Prospect Hill Winery
Located in Lebanon about an hour from Portland, Prospect Hill Winery makes wines exclusively from grapes grown on-site. The family-operated winery began planting vines in 2000 and has since established itself as an award-winning winery in Maine. After hand-picking the grapes, staff members take them to the crush pad the same day for pressing and fermenting.
Prospect Hill Winery’s award-winning red wines include the Sabrevois, which was named the Best Maine-Grown Wine at the 2018 Big E Wine Competition and won the Bronze Medal at the 2017 Best of New England Wine Competition. This medium-bodied wine features spicy aromas and fruit flavors as well as a slight cinnamon finish. Red wine lovers should also try the St. Croix, which won the Bronze Medal at the 2018 Best of New England Wine Competition. This wine has flavors of black currant and dark fruit and pairs well with pizza and pasta.
Another award-winning red wine is the Valley Mist, which is made with Frontenac and Sabrevois grapes. This wine won the Bronze Medal at both the 2017 Big E Wine Competition and the 2018 Best of New England Wine Competition. Valley Mist derives its black cherry flavor from the Frontenac and its chocolate spice from the Sabrevois.
Prospect Hill Winery also makes exceptional white wines, but all are sold out for the season. As a testament to their quality, all but one of its white wines have won awards at major competitions. For example, the Edelvira was named the Best Maine-Grown Wine at the 2017 Big E Wine Competition and won the Bronze Medal at the 2018 Best of New England Wine Competition. The winery also produces Rosé. The Harvest Red Rosé, released in May 2019, is made with early-pressed Marquette grapes and features a bright raspberry taste.
To learn more about Prospect Hill Winery and its award-winning wines, visit www.prospecthillwines.com.