Travel + Leisure (USA)

GRAPE AWAKENING

Ever tried a glass of La Crescent? What about Marquette? In Vermont, lesser-known varietals are the wines of the future.

- By Valerie Stivers and Hank Zona

“‘HOW’S THE FRONTENAC NOIR this year?’ asked no one, ever,” jokes Kendra Knapik, the owner-grower-winemaker at Vermont’s Ellison Estate Vineyard. But she certainly knows the answer—Knapik and her husband, Rob, grow this little-known hybrid on their 50-acre plot, which they purchased four years ago on an island near Burlington. As climate change redraws the wine-making map, many believe the industry’s future will be in cooler regions like this, where a “use what you have” ethos is producing exquisite results. The Knapiks are part of a new crop of Vermont vintners who have taken over vineyard sites planted with previously underappre­ciated American grapes: hardy, disease-resistant, and an obvious fit for low-interventi­on agricultur­e and natural wine making. Read on for the producers to know.

ELLISON ESTATE VINEYARD

Two visionarie­s with background­s in medicine and science, the couple bought this previously abandoned vineyard on Grand Isle, in Lake Champlain, which was planted mostly with St. Croix (a dark-red-fleshed hybrid that makes wine with notes of black currant and forest floor). Visit in summer to try bottles of surprising richness and depth in the

tasting room of the bucolic estate, where the grass is mowed by a flock of sheep—or look for winter pop-up events in Stowe, the couple’s winter home and production headquarte­rs. ellisonest­atevineyar­d.com.

SHELBURNE VINEYARD + IAPETUS Just south of Burlington, Ken Albert’s prestigiou­s and long-standing vineyard has been making wine from hybrid grapes such as Marquette (notes of black cherry and baking spice) and Louise Swenson (flowers and honey) for years. Current grower-winemaker Ethan Joseph represents the next generation; he recently launched Iapetus, his own line of experiment­al wines in hazy hues. Both are on pour at Shelburne’s sleek, Craftsman-style tasting room. shelburnev­ineyard.com; iapetuswin­e.com.

LA GARAGISTA

The pioneer of natural wine making in Vermont, Deirdre Heekin launched her groundbrea­king winery-farm in Bethel in 2010, providing guidance—or at least inspiratio­n—for many who came after. Heekin sells layered, story-driven wines, made from varieties like the white grape La Crescent (bright, acidic, oranges and apricots), through her website. She also hosts occasional pop-ups and offers curbside pickup. lagaragist­a.com.

STELLA14

Vermont native David Keck traveled the world as an opera singer before he became a Master Sommelier, cofounded a successful hospitalit­y group in Houston, and finally returned home to make wine. Keck leases vineyards from the first-generation vintners at Cambridge’s Boyden

Valley Winery and released the first wines from his label Stella14 in late 2021, made from Marquette (red fruit, violets, roses) and Frontenac Noir (herbaceous, dark fruit). A tasting room is set to open later this year. instagram.com/stella14wi­nes. + MORE PLACES TO TASTE

Vermont’s local producers are supported by a burgeoning market for sustainabl­e, high-quality wine. Three locations of Dedalus (dedaluswin­e.com) offer a combinatio­n bottle shop and cheese-wine-charcuteri­e counter. Or try the multipurpo­se Cork Restaurant & Natural Wine Shop (corkvt.com), in Stowe; design-conscious Wilder Wines (wilderwine­svt.com), in Burlington; and newcomer Salt & Bubbles Wine Bar & Market (saltandbub­bleswine.com), in Essex. Visitors staying at Burlington’s Hotel Vermont (hotelvt.com; doubles from $209) will find local wines at the hotel’s bar and restaurant, including a house pour made in collaborat­ion with Iapetus.

 ?? ?? Grazing between the grapes at La Garagista’s Champlain Valley vineyard.
Grazing between the grapes at La Garagista’s Champlain Valley vineyard.
 ?? ?? Dedalus, a bottle shop with a focus on natural wines, has three locations in Vermont.
Dedalus, a bottle shop with a focus on natural wines, has three locations in Vermont.
 ?? ?? Picnickers among the Marquette vines at Shelburne Vineyard, just outside Burlington.
Picnickers among the Marquette vines at Shelburne Vineyard, just outside Burlington.
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