Grand View Winery wins six awards


Fri Jun 10 2011

Grand View Winery of East Calais won six awards this spring at the prestigious Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. Six wines were submitted and all six won. Cranberry Wine won a Double Gold. Strawberry Rhubarb Wine won a Gold. Pear Wine won a silver. Mac jack Hard Cider, Montmorency Cherry Wine and Seyval Grape wines won Bronze medals. This is the second year in a row that Grand View Winery has won international medals for its wines. It is notable that that the fruit wines are made just out of the respective fruit. Owner and wine maker, Phil Tonks, said “I’m especially pleased to win this recognition for our fruit wines. A well built and balanced fruit wine can be just as enjoyable as a grape wine.”

Traditionally we think of wine as made from grapes. True, most wines are made from grapes, but as Tonks likes to point out, “after all grapes are also a fruit”. There are lots of choices beyond grapes in what to ferment. The flavor comes from the type of fruit with the character of the wine reflecting the specific fruit. The alcohol comes from the sugars of the fruit. In fermentation it is the sugars that are converted by the yeast into alcohol and carbon dioxide (the gas that bubbles off during fermentation). Fortunately, fruit wines are shaking off the image of overly sweet and no character. More wineries are applying the techniques of grape wine making to fruit wine making, improving the quality and reducing the need to sweeten the end wine. Meads out of honey and hard cider from apples are other examples of fermented products that go way back in history.

A well made fruit wine, such as the Cranberry, has the very distinctive taste of cranberries. Grand View’s has a little touch of sweet to start with the tartness of the cranberry to finish. Tonks recommends matching the cranberry with turkey dinner, or chilled on a hot day, or combined with bubbly and ice to make a spritzer.

The winery is located just off Rte 14, high on Max Gray Road. The views are exceptional. The winery grows their own fruit and buys from Vermont farms. Tonks started the winery fourteen years ago using his own apples and other fruits. Today he also buys fruit from Vermont farms, such as strawberries from nearby Legare’s Farm Market, black currants for his cassis wine from a farm in South Hero, Pears from an orchard near Brattleboro to name a few. He points out that the winery takes a commodity (fruit) and converts it into a specialty product (wine) which he sells to visitors to the state, thus bringing money into the state. That money is used to pay farmers and other vendors and hopefully goes around several times before it leaves the state. According to Tonks, “What is good for agriculture is good for all of us”

The winery’s location high on East Hill in Calais is a difficult place to grow wine grapes. However, Grand View does offer several grape wines made from grapes purchased from western New York. Both the Riesling and the Seyval have also won awards in past years.

Some of the stores in the local area that carry Grand View Wines include Hunger Mountain Coop, Yankee Spirits, Cabot Annex, Plainfield hardware, Plainfield Coop, Buffalo Mountain Coop, and others farther afield.

Tonks started making wines for fun nearly 35 years ago in his basement using the fruits off his land. He started the winery in 1997 in his barn selling Mac Jack Hard Cider. He and his wife Julie then purchased the house next door and moved the operation to the current hilltop location. The winery is open for tours, tastings and sales all summer seven days a week, 11-5, from the end of May to the end of October. The location makes a great place to bring a picnic, buy a bottle of wine and enjoy the unbelievable view. A couple of years later they leased space at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury and opened a tasting room and retail sales location. That store is open 11-5 seven days a week all year round.

The Vermont Grape and Wine Council was formed a couple of years ago to help develop the winery industry and encourage grape growing. The Council holds an educational annual meeting open to the public in early June. Information about the program, date, and location can be found on the Council’s web site. There is a wealth of information available to help new growers get started. Most Vermont vineyards are growing what are called Minnesota Hybreds because of the grape’s resistance to the extreme cold of our winters and the shorter maturity time matching our short growing season.

Other wineries winning awards at the Finger Lakes Competition include Eden Ice Cider, Putney Mountain Winery, Artesano Meads, and Charlotte Village Winery. These 5 wineries won awards for 16 wines submitted with 14 out of the 16 non grape wines. If you haven’t tried fruit wines, you’re in for a treat. The flavors are distinctively different. And choices of Vermont wines are growing every year with new wineries starting up every year.

Vermont Business Magazine