By Barbara M. Houle
Local wineries reopen for the season, welcoming visitors to sip wine, grab a bite and enjoy the view.
It’s not business as usual quite yet as Massachusetts wineries continue to follow the state’s COVID-19 guidelines, but owners look forward to May 29 when the Baker-Polito Administration is expected to increase indoor and outdoor gathering limits for bars, beer gardens, breweries, wineries and distilleries, subject to health and vaccination data.
The dish on what’s happening at several local wineries:
Hardwick Vineyard and Winery
3305 Greenwich Road, Hardwick (www.hardwickwinery.com)
Open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
John Samek of Hardwick has owned the 125-acre property for 24 years, operating the winery for 19 years as winemaker. The business officially opened the season on May 1. Despite the pandemic, the winery is in “good shape,” according to Samek, who said his wines are sold at the winery and in 200 stores across the state from Cape Cod to the Berkshires. “We’re very grateful for a loyal customer base,” said Samek. “It helped to keep us in business during COVID.”
The introduction of a new wine, Hardwick Honey, brings excitement to the winery’s reopening, according to Samek, who described it as “not a mead wine but a grape wine made with a touch of local honey.” Another addition to the winery’s brand will occur during strawberry season beginning in June, said Samek. And, wine slushies are back!
Valley Asparagus, a blended-semi-dry white wine with locally grown asparagus is one of its kind, said Janice Dunham, Hardwick winery coordinator. Check the website for a list of award-winning wines, in addition to info about a Mother’s Day Gift Bag.
The winery currently offers a limited menu that includes sandwich options. Note: Wineries are included in businesses that currently are required to serve food with alcohol. Friday through Sunday, local food trucks, such as Tony’s Happy Valley Pizza of Palmer are at the winery. Rooster’s Roaming Cantina of Three Rivers will participate on Mother’s Day.
The winery is interested in adding more food trucks this season. Call (413) 967-7763 for more info.
Limited seating on two floors of the winery. The first floor opens to the deck and front porch. Picnic tables, some of which have built-in troughs for ice, are available throughout the property.
Note: Food and wine (wine flights available) are brought to outside tables by servers. Curbside service is available. Check website for live music scheduled on weekends.
Nashoba Valley Winery
100 Wattaquadock Hill Road, Bolton (www.nashobawinery.com)
There’s lots of history at Nashoba Valley Winery, which operates a retail shop, Vintner’s Knoll Restaurant (an outside food and beverage service area) and J’s Restaurant.
Mother’s Day, May 9, J’s Restaurant is sold out, and the Vintner’s Tasting Knoll also was expected to sell out earlier this week.
Justin Pelletier, Nashoba’s Chief Operating Officer and Quality Control Manager, said “things are still being worked out” at the family-owned business as state mandates change. Currently, reservations are required at J’s Restaurant and highly recommended for the Vintner’s Tasting Knoll. The winery is working with limited staff, he said, and is in the process of hiring part- and full-time employees. “Like other businesses, we’re adapting,” said Pelletier. “Things continue to change sometimes on a daily basis.”
The award-winning winery is the state’s leading fruit wine producer. Nashoba also operates Bolton Beer Works and Nashoba Valley Spirits, LTD, both located on the Wattaquadock Hill Road property. Visit Nashoba Winery website for more details about Pelletier family ownership, plus more.
This season, Nashoba Valley Winery/Bolton Beer Works introduced Opening Day Rose IPA, an American beer, and the winery looks forward to the return of special events, according to Pelletier.
The outside food and beverage service area (The Vintner’s Tasting Knoll) is a popular spot for food, wine, beer and other items that are delivered directly to your table, said Pelletier. Orders are placed by scanning a QR code on your phone. QR technology, or on-premise mobile ordering, improves the guest experience because there’s no wait line, he said.
Reservations are not required at Vintner’s Tasting Knoll during the week, but strongly recommended on weekends, said Pelletier. Note: Visitors currently can enjoy a glass or bottle of wine, wine flights and beer with the purchase of food.
The winery’s retail shop is open daily to customers who want to buy wines to take home. Also, wines can be delivered to home or office in three days or more. Free shipping and 10% off on 12 bottles or more. Retail shop hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call (978) 779-5521.
J’s Restaurant offers curbside pickup for evening meals and wine, up to three days in advance. The service is available from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. Lunch, wine and more for pickup at the winery is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Matt Sciabarasi is executive chef at the restaurant.
Visitors should continue to check Nashoba’s website for updates.
Broken Creek Vineyard and Winery
614 South St., Shrewsbury (www.brokencreekvineyard.com)
Saturday and Sunday, the winery is open noon to 6 p.m. Beginning Friday, May 14, hours will be 5 to 8 p.m. Check website for updates.
Reservations, not required but highly recommenced, can be made up to 14 days in advance.
Currently, all guests must order food, with onsite catering provided by Struck Catering in Worcester. No wine tastings are scheduled yet, according to owner and winemaker Eric Preusse. However, the winery offers personalized wine tasting flights.
A Spring Wine Dinner by Struck Catering will take place at 6 p.m. May 21 at the winery. Visit resy.com for tickets, $130 each, plus tax and fees. Gratuity is included in the ticket price.
The dinner, paired with Broken Creek wines, includes Local Cheese “Boats;” Sundried Tomato Infused Polenta; Fresh Tagliatelle Pasta (roasted tomato sauce garnished with fresh fennel and shaved pepper infused Parmesan cheese); Flank Steak Roulade. Special surprise will be the wine makers choice paired with dessert, Strawberry Rhubarb Tart.
Struck Catering founders Derek Grillo and his mother, Barbara Cotter, plan more seasonal wine dinners at the winery. Stay tuned for more announcements.
Pruesse and his wife, Peggy Preusse, put the 40-acre vineyard, the winery and their adjacent home up for sale in 2020, taking it off the market last December.
This month, the property went up for sale again. Preusse said he and his wife remain committed to retiring and living their dream of traveling the world.
Until the final sale, the couple continue to welcome visitors to the vineyard.
Agronomy Farm Vineyard
338 Ware Corner Road, Oakham (www.agronomyfarmvineyard.com)
Opened May 1. Hours are noon to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Connect on Facebook.
Other state wineries to check out: Taylor Brooke Winery (www.taylorbrookewinery.com) in Woodstock, Conn: Westport Rivers Vineyard and Winery (www.westportrivers.com) in Westport; Vandervalk Farm and Winery (www.vandervalkfarm.com) in Mendon.
The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources offers a list of state wineries on the mass.gov website.
Happy sipping season!
Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company teams with Queen’s Cups
Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company in Worcester and 90 + Cellars, with Queen’s Cups in Worcester, plan a special Mother’s Day event from noon to 7 p.m. May 9 at Greater Good, 55 Millbrook St., Worcester.
Greater Good and 90 + recently partnered to create a new Frozé (frozen rosé) made in the brewery’s new frozen drink machine. Mother’s Day guests also can expect a frozen beer featuring the brewery’s Funk Daddy. Both drinks will cost $9 each.
Queen’s Cups will offer several of its from-scratch sweet treats, both “boozy and non-boozy” cupcakes.
Greater Good’s full kitchen menu, including signature favorites such as fried chicken sandwich and burger of the week, will be available.
Expect more fun, exciting surprises throughout the summer from Greater Good and 90 + collaboration, according to Kelsey Lemmon, Marketing Manager at Latitude Beverages, and Abby Ethier, Taproom Event Coordinator at Greater Good.
Show love for mom with cupcakes
Just in time for Mother’s Day are floral cupcakes from On the Rise Baking, 1120 Pleasant St., Worcester. The frosting design on these cute little cupcakes make for a sweet surprise for any age. The cupcakes were first introduced last Mother’s Day and are back by popular demand, according to bakery owner/pastry chef Elizabeth Casey.
A six-pack of the cupcakes (3 vanilla and 3 chocolate) cost $25. Deadline for ordering is May 6.
Floral cakes also are available. All Mother’s Day orders will be available for pickup from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 9. Visit www.ontherisebaking.com; Telephone: (508) 752-3809.
If you have a tidbit for the column, call (508) 868-5282. Send email to email@example.com.