Shelburne Vineyard Review
Address: 6308 Shelburne Rd Shelburne,Vermont 05482.
Phone Number: 802-985-8222
Tasting Hours: May-Oct: 11:00-6:00, Nov-Apr: 11:00-5:00
Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith
Review Date: 6/4/2016
Reviewer: Elizabeth Smith
Shelburne Vineyard is a partnership between Ken Albert, Scott Prom, and most recently, Sam Coppola. The idea of winegrowing in Vermont began approximately 35 years ago when Ken Albert was growing grapes in his backyard as a hobby. Later, he leased three acres from Shelburne Farms to begin commercial winemaking and Scott Prom joined the venture, with the first vintage being in 2000. In 2008, they opened a LEED-designed, green, sustainable winery on new land primarily planted with marquette grapes. Sam Coppola joined the ownership team in 2013. Shelburne Vineyards is now comprised of 16 acres on three sites McCabes Brook, Meach Cove, and Mt. Philo producing cold-climate, hybrid grapes such as Louise Swenson, la crescent, lacadie blanc, prairie star, petite pearl, st. croix, marquette, as well as riesling and vidal blanc. Shelburne also sources some fruit from the Finger Lakes region of New York. The team is completed by winemaker and vineyard manager, Ethan Joseph; director of marketing, Gail Albert; and tasting room/wine club manager, Rhiannon Johnson. During my recent group visit, I had the good fortune to meet all of these welcoming people during our private, educational tasting and tour ($40 per person).
We began the tour in the vineyard, where Ethan shared with us information about his vineyard management program. High-wire cordon training is used to create an open canopy to keep the vines dry and the grapes exposed to sunlight. He spoke to us about harvest, which typically begins around the beginning of September and concludes with the picking of their grapes for ice wine in December or January. Five and a half acres of their vineyards are planted with marquette.
The tour concluded in the winery, where Ken, Scott, Sam, and Gail joined us. We had the chance to sample some wines still in production: the 2015 lacadie blanc, a Canadian hybrid grape wine, which resembled a full-bodied, floral sauvignon blanc; a 2015 unoaked marquette, with bold, black plum flavors and spiciness from 100% stem inclusion; and a 2014 single-barrel, reserve marquette, which was aged 16-18 months in new Bulgarian oak.
After the tour, we headed into the tasting room building crafted with local wood shingles, stone terrazzo floors, and copper light fixtures by local coppersmiths. Daily tastings take place around a large, cherry wood bar. The tasting room walls boast artwork from local Vermont artists, retail wine sales, and a gift area. Everyday tastings only cost $7 and include samples of current releases and a souvenir glass.
Because it was such a beautiful day for our visit, Rhiannon hosted us outdoors on the patio for the remainder of the tasting, which included the 2015 Louise Swenson, 2015 La Crescent, 2014 Marquette, 2013 Marquette Reserve, and 2014 Duet Ice Wine made from vidal blanc grapes. The Louise Swenson possessed characteristics of green apple and tart citrus fruits, while La Crescent showed floral aromas and off-dry flavors of tree, stone, and citrus fruits. The two marquettes were different in that the younger version is aged sur lie for six months in oak barrels, while the older version is aged sur lie for 15 months. Both retained vibrant, dark berry and fruit flavors, spice, and acidity, while the latter was more oak influenced and had a fuller mouthfeel. The Duet Ice Wine was luscious with sweet floral aromas and honeyed flavors of baked apples and peaches.
From its humble beginnings of backyard grape growing, to small commercial production, to todays multi-site vineyards, winery, and tasting room, Shelburne Vineyard has achieved the winerys mission of creating a sustainable, viable winegrowing business. The results are notable: award-winning, hybrid varietal wines and a comprehensive, quality guest experience for casual to expert wine enthusiasts.