We decided to take a family road trip last weekend to visit my brother and sister-in-law in New Hampshire. They had mentioned that they wanted to take us to this one winery that was fairly well known in their area: LaBelle Winery. I was excited to try what New Hampshire had to offer, but when we arrived we discovered that the grapes they were using were primarily from the Finger Lakes!
About LaBelle Winery
LaBelle Winery started with a small commercial production of New Hampshire apple wines in 2005. By 2010, the winery had grown into a much larger enterprise that required more space, so LaBelle and husband Cesar Arboleda decided to open a 20,000 square foot winery in Amherst, NH that would be dedicated not just to the production of wine, but also provide space for dining and parties.
Currently, the winery offers a range of white, red, blush, fruit, and dessert wines for you to sample in their tasting room.
The grapes come from a variety of locations, including the Doyle Family Vineyard on Seneca Lakes, Walker’s Fruit Farms on Erie Lake, Taylor Brown Family Farm in Alton, NH, Norse Farms in Whately, MA, and they are even beginning to grow their own grapes at the Amherst winery location.
For $8 you get to try 5 different wines (with a free welcome wine while you decide, not sure if this was just a special addition for that weekend or normal for everyone), and then it is $5 if you want to try another 5 on top of that. We bellied up to their tasting room bar, and ordered a round of tastings for all six of us.
You’ll notice that a lot of my notes won’t have years for the wines- I had trouble finding them and given how busy it was that morning, wasn’t able to ask for every one.
The welcome wine was their Vienna Waltz 2017, a blend of New York Riesling and Gewurztraminer. The wine has a nose of pear, peach, nectarine and hints of spiciness. On the palate, it has a little citrus to balance the peach, touch of sweetness, and a light acidic finish.
Made from New York grapes, the Dry Riesling has a very light nose of clean grassy, herbal and citrus notes that continues on the palate with a citrusy acid and dry finish. It is quite austere which is nice following the previous wine.
Next, we tried the Seyval Blanc Winemaker’s Reserve, since this is one of the grapes they are growing on site and has been bottle aged for two years. It smells of tropical fruits like pineapple and tangerine, with pear and custard notes that continue onto the palate. It finishes with a clean medium acid.
Probably the coolest wine we tried, and believe me, I’m as shocked as you that I even tried it, was their Dry Blueberry wine. That’s right, it’s a crazy fun fruit wine. It tasted a little like a light Merlot, with jammy berry notes and hints of leathery spice. On the palate, it was light and had a medium acidity.
We finished with the Americus Reserve, a blend of Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc and New Hampshire Noiret. The nose leads with raspberry jam, vanilla, and leather notes. On the palate, the jammy notes get fresher and it has a light medium tannin, with a hint of pepper at the finish.
Planning Your Visit
Hours: Hours vary by season, so check the website. For winter, they are closed Monday and Tuesday, and open Wednesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tasting Fee: $8 for 5 samples, and $5 for 5 more samples (although their website says $10 for the 5 tastes).
Group Wine Tasting: They don’t specify what size of group requires a reservation, but they suggest calling ahead. We had a group of 6 and they were able to serve us at the main bar no problem even though it was a little busy.
Wine Prices: Their wines range from $15 for a peach port to $30 for their Anthology blend.
Other Amenities: They have a full bistro style restaurant and offer a variety of events and tours. While we were there, a yoga class had just finished, and they were serving what looked and smelled like an incredible brunch. They do offer tours in the warmer weather, but during the winter provide a guide for guests to do their own tour.
It was fun trying the New Hampshire interpretation of New York wine in a gorgeous facility. We were surprised by the Blueberry wine and the aged Seyval Blanc was super fun. Next time, I’m going to plan ahead a little more and sign up for yoga and brunch- I love the idea of doing something healthy then doing something indulgent. My only critique is that some of the staff didn’t seem to know a lot about the wines, and we heard different things from different staff members. I ended up having to do quite a bit of online research to clarify where wine was coming from and what grapes were included in the blends.