You'll find it in the ingredients used at independently owned restaurants; at the farms growing the ingredients; within the culture of the area and the local people who make Mt. Washington Valley their home, and when it comes to the local craft beverage scene in the Mt. Washington Valley, you'll find it in the local breweries, distilleries, and wineries.
Build your own tasting tour of the valley's local beverage scene, and make your way to five breweries, two wineries, and one distillery that span from Fryeburg, Maine to Bartlett, New Hampshire. Enjoy each unique perspective on hand-crafted liquor, cider, wine, and beer at each of these locally owned businesses. Taste the difference between each beverage; feel the excitement from the local brewers, wine-makers-and distillers as they perfect their craft; spend time amongst locals who are enjoying a refreshing beverage after a day of hiking, biking, or skiing; and catch some entertainment in the form of live music, corn hole, or food trucks.
Follow along as we showcase each local brewery, winery, and distillery in Mt. Washington Valley! Pair your tasting tour with shopping, and dining, and make it an overnight stay! For more information on planning your Mt. Washington Valley vacation, sign up for our monthly newsletter!
Alpine Garden Winery is a true find! Tucked away on the outskirts of Bartlett Village on the grounds of Alpine Garden Camping Village, owner and wine-maker, Ryan Classen is pouring something truly unique.
Currently offering a line-up of four ciders from the Jonagold apple variety, from an orchard found locally in Maine; Ryan is also working on growing grapes and bottling his own wine.
Cider making is a long-time hobby for Ryan, and this four-bottle offering is a limited series. Once they're gone, they're gone, and Ryan will move onto making a completely different batch from a completely different apple and orchard. In this original set he's pouring now, you'll find a unique take on aging the Jonagold apple into cider. After collecting 64 bins of apples, and hand-sorting them for the best pieces of fruit, he cured them throughout winter. He extracted the juice right as the apples hit their freezing point, which turned the juice they produced into 8% alcohol.
From there Ryan went to age them in four different styles; an Oak Barrel Fermented cider, a Port Barrel Fermented cider, a Skins and Stems cider, a Cognac Barrel Fermented cider and a Barrel Fermented cider. These are Pét Nát style ciders, meaning they are natural, fermented with wild yeast and bottled while still fermenting to create a natural effervescence. While each one originates from the same kind of apple, they each have a completely different taste.
You'll find that the Barrel Aged cider is the most wine-like, with a clean, crisp taste, while the Port Barrel aged cider is more earthy and complex. Each cider tastes sweet, but only in perception. The actual sugar content is quite low, which is a result in the way and length in the way its aged and bottled. (Ryan also offers a line of Dube and Robinson cider, which is cider that was grown and pressed by two cider makers in Tamworth, NH, that Ryan then took and aged on his own. They're a drier and bubbly experience.)
He currently has 2,000 grape vines planted throughout Mt. Washington Valley, and after multiple years of maturing, they are finally ready to be turned into wine. He will be debuting his own wine late into 2022 and early 2023.
Since the mid-2000's, Ryan has studied winemaking all over the world; apprenticing under cider makers and vintners from New Hampshire to New Zealand. At one point he flew to Australia knowing it suffered from a shortage of fruit pickers. When his flight landed, he started knocking on the doors of wineries, and took whatever job the wineries needed him to. Over time, he gained the wine-makers' confidence that he could be trusted to start making his own vintage for them.
You should be able to taste the nuance of the soil the grapes grew from in the wine you're drinking. Each region has its own soil characterization, and New Hampshire certainly has a unique one. Its granite stores created a really interesting mineral profile that inspired Ryan to become the first wine-maker to not only age and bottle wine in Mt. Washington Valley, but to grow the grapes for it as well.
Ryan describes his ciders and wines as drinks with an "absence of ego." He focuses on natural cider and wine-making and tries not to get in the way of the apples' and grapes' own processes. His vines have never - and will never be sprayed with pesticides, and he is committed to keeping everything he offers as local as possible. He wants any glass of wine or cider he pours to be an opportunity to learn more about the place in which you're drinking it in.
This detail can even be felt down to the labels of the cider he currently offers, which features the artwork of local artists. You'll find labels created by local artists Joelle Goff and Melanie Leavitt, owner of Jackson Art Studio; with more collaborations coming.
Alpine Garden Winery is open year-round with its summer schedule opening, Wednesday through Sunday. Come in for a tasting with flights or individual samples. You can also find Alpine Garden Winery cider at Chef's Bistro, Flatbread Company, and The Penguin. The Thompson House Eatery, a farm-to-table restaurant a town over from Bartlett, also provided their own apples for Ryan to create a signature cider for it to serve at its restaurant as well.
For complete trip planning resources and information, explore this site, visitmwv.com, or call 800-367-3364 (800-DO-SEE-NH) to talk to a Mt Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce rep.