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Local vintners thankful for hearty harvest

  • Starting on Friday, March 3, 2017, Cameron's Winery will start serving light fare along with their wines and ciders in this dining area. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE Shelby Ashline

  • Last month, Cameron's Winery underwent renovations, adding a small kitchen to the wine production room at the back portion of the building, located at 105 Main St. Starting Friday, March 3, 2017, the winery will use the kitchen to cook light fare. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE Shelby Ashline

  • The Blueberry variety produced by Cameron's Winery proved to be the best Massachusetts grown wine in the 2017 Big E Wine Competition, while also earning a gold medal. Aug. 11, 2017.

  • Paul and Leslie Cameron, owners of Cameron's Winery at 105 Main St. in Northfield, work together to make wine from chardonel grapes. Paul pours juice from the grapes into a vial so that Leslie may measure the batch's alcohol content. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE Shelby Ashline

  • Paul and Leslie Cameron, owners of Cameron's Winery at 105 Main St. in Northfield, pour a large bucket of chardonel grapes into a sorting machine that will separate the grapes from their stems and begin to mash them into liquid. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE Shelby Ashline

  • Cameron's Winery, located at 105 Main St. in Northfield, has won silver and bronze medals in the Big E Wine Competition in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Their first award came in 2013 when they received a bronze medal in the Indy International Wine Competition. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE Shelby Ashline

  • Cameron's Winery, located at 105 Main St. in Northfield, won three silver medals and two bronze medals in 2016's Big E Wine Competition. RECORDER STAFF/SHELBY ASHLINE Shelby Ashline

  • Wine collection: White wine glass and grapes in vineyard. Shallow deep of field. Mark Rubens

  • Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli Home Fruit Wine at 382 South Main St. in Orange.

  • Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli Home Fruit Wine at 382 South Main St. in Orange.

  • Recorder Staff/Domenic Poli Home Fruit Wine at 382 South Main St. in Orange.



Recorder Staff
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Area wineries have something to be thankful for this Turkey Day.

Mother Nature produced a bountiful harvest this year and vintners across Franklin County will enjoy their Thanksgiving while gallons of various types of fruit juice ferment into wine.

Lori Perkins of Home Fruit Wine in Orange said this was the best harvest since opening with David LeClaire in 2014. The winery is known for wines made with unconventional sugar sources, such as tomato, pumpkin, pears and peaches. LeClaire said Sonny’s Blueberry Sunrise is his most popular.

Perkins said 60 gallons of wine made with pumpkins from Hunt Farm in Orange are fermenting for next year. She said once the process is done, it will be bottled so it can ferment for another month and then aged a year. She also said 120 gallons of hard apple cider are aging now.

LeClaire and Perkins started the winery in 2011, when the peach trees in the small backyard orchard produced an unprecedented amount of the stone fruit. That orchard started as one peach tree planted to memorialize a pet dog named Pearl.

Home Fruit Wine recently expanded distribution to six package stores.

Quabbin Sky Vineyard

Joyce Wiley of Quabbin Sky Vineyard, which opened five years ago in New Salem, said 7,000 gallons of grape juice are fermenting on the property now.

“Every year has its blessings and its challenges and, basically, it’s always like that. This year nature gave us a bounty,” she said. “It was a little later coming in than it was last year, but other than that it was lovely. … May came in cold, and that pushes everything off.”

According to the winery’s website, Wiley and her husband, Phil, discovered grape vines on their property when they moved to New Salem in 2004. They learned the history of the grape vines from a well-traveled neighbor who often returned home with vines in his luggage to plant on his 2-acre property. The Wileys were eventually persuaded to make wine from the old vines. The winery, named for its nearness to the Quabbin Reservoir and after the Wileys’ border collie, Sky, now offers six reds and six whites.

The Wileys grow their own grapes and, like Cameron’s Winery in Northfield, purchase others from Cold Spring Orchard, a research facility the University of Massachusetts Amherst runs in Belchertown.

Originally called the University of Massachusetts Horticultural Research Center, the farm is used for research and educating students about the art and science of fruit growing. According to its website, the focus of the research is finding “better ways to grow fruit in Massachusetts, including the testing of new varieties, the evaluation of more efficient horticultural techniques, and the development of more environmentally friendly management approaches.”

Cameron’s Winery

Leslie Cameron, who started Cameron’s Winery with husband Paul five years ago this month, said this was a fine year for grapes, falling behind last year’s quality only slightly.

“We got some really wonderful grapes. We’re really happy with the grapes this year. Last year went really well — the grapes came early,” she said. “We pick our own grapes 99 percent of the time.”

The winery also produces three types of hard cider.

“It was a hobby that was getting a little out of hand,” Leslie Cameron said of the winery at 105 Main St. in Northfield. “We have a lot of fun with it.”

Cameron’s has earned multiple honors for an assortment of wines in its short history. It earned 12 awards, including best Massachusetts wine, at the 2017 Big E Wine Competition. Chocolate Dipped Blueberry, Hadley Acre Farm, Lime in the Coconut, Lime Lemon and Chocolate Dipped Blackberry wine varieties all won silver medals; Marquette and Chardonel Concord varieties won bronze medals; and Paul’s Black Plum and Blueberry varieties won gold. The winery won three silver medals and two bronze medals in the previous year’s competition.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 258. On Twitter: @DomenicPoli