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Bernardston couple opens new winery

  • SWANZEY, NH - November 21, 2012 - Paul and Leslie Cameron of Bernardston, enjoy a glass of one their many varieties of fruit wines at their new wine shop - Cameron's Winery. Photo by Beth Reynolds

    SWANZEY, NH - November 21, 2012 - Paul and Leslie Cameron of Bernardston, enjoy a glass of one their many varieties of fruit wines at their new wine shop - Cameron's Winery. Photo by Beth Reynolds

  • SWANZEY, NH - November 21, 2012 - Paul and Leslie Cameron of Bernardston, enjoy a glass of one their many varieties of fruit wines at their new wine shop - Cameron's Winery. "I married my best friend and I love working with him," says Leslie. Photo by Beth Reynolds

    SWANZEY, NH - November 21, 2012 - Paul and Leslie Cameron of Bernardston, enjoy a glass of one their many varieties of fruit wines at their new wine shop - Cameron's Winery. "I married my best friend and I love working with him," says Leslie. Photo by Beth Reynolds

  • SWANZEY, NH - November 21, 2012 - Cameron's Winery makes a wide variety of fruit wines and offers free tasting of all of them. After winning several awards at a wine competition Paul and Leslie Cameron opened their own wine shop. Photo by Beth Reynolds

    SWANZEY, NH - November 21, 2012 - Cameron's Winery makes a wide variety of fruit wines and offers free tasting of all of them. After winning several awards at a wine competition Paul and Leslie Cameron opened their own wine shop. Photo by Beth Reynolds

  • SWANZEY, NH - November 21, 2012 - Paul and Leslie Cameron of Bernardston, enjoy a glass of one their many varieties of fruit wines at their new wine shop - Cameron's Winery. Photo by Beth Reynolds
  • SWANZEY, NH - November 21, 2012 - Paul and Leslie Cameron of Bernardston, enjoy a glass of one their many varieties of fruit wines at their new wine shop - Cameron's Winery. "I married my best friend and I love working with him," says Leslie. Photo by Beth Reynolds
  • SWANZEY, NH - November 21, 2012 - Cameron's Winery makes a wide variety of fruit wines and offers free tasting of all of them. After winning several awards at a wine competition Paul and Leslie Cameron opened their own wine shop. Photo by Beth Reynolds

BERNARDSTON — Last year, Paul and Leslie Cameron bottled their first fruit wines, and sent them off to amateur winemaking competitions, looking for a little feedback.

It was, in a word, positive. They won five medals from two competitions, and that told them they were on to something. They’ve gone on to start their own winery in nearby Swanzey, N.H., which opened in time for Thanksgiving.

“People were swarming in to buy wine,” Paul Cameron said at the end of their opening weekend.

The most popular was their apple wine; they had to bottle more to make it through the weekend.

They didn’t have to go far — their 400-square-foot shop holds their whole production, bottling, and sales space, with room left for a wine tasting counter.

“We want people to be able to try our wine before they buy it,” said Leslie Cameron. “Nobody wants to buy a bottle of wine and find out they don’t like it.”

There will often be something new to try at the little winery. They’ve had labels for 37 different fruit and grape wines approved, and would like to try their hands at mead, a honey wine, in the spring.

An advantage to fruit wines, they said, is that they don’t need to be aged, and can be enjoyed fully right after they’re bottled.

Their soft opening featured wines including blackberry, orange, pineapple coconut, Sauvignon Blanc, “Hunter’s Moon” red wine, and several others. One door down, the next batch sat in huge glass fermenters waiting to be bottled, and included elderberry, black currant, and “Put the Lime in the Coconut,” to name a few.

Last fall, the thought of opening a winery had never crossed the Camerons’ minds.

But last November, their first attempts at fruit wines took home two silver and three bronze medals in two national competitions.

Those first fruit wines, and the awards that followed, earned them some attention, and that got them thinking.

“We had so many calls from people that wanted to try our wines,” said Paul Cameron.

“We couldn’t sell them, or give them away to people we didn’t know,” added his wife.

They did some research on opening a winery, and found that it was cheaper to do so in New Hampshire than in Massachusetts, though more strictly regulated. So they put together a plan, and it was approved by Swanzey in April.

The Camerons look forward to meeting people at the winery, just like they do at their roadside vegetable stand in Bernardston.

“We like seeing people, talking to them, and knowing that we’ve grown or made something they’re putting on their tables,” said Leslie Cameron.

Making wine was mostly her husband’s hobby until she got into it last year.

Paul Cameron had been brewing his own beer and making grape wines from kits for about a decade, but had never made wine from fresh fruits until she suggested it.

Now, Leslie Cameron handles the science of their craft, pairing each fruit with the proper yeast, and adding just enough sugar to each wine to bring back the fruit’s sweetness before it’s bottled.

“We worked really hard on the recipes, to bring out the best qualities of the fruit,” she said. “I didn’t want the fruits to be in the background.”

The Camerons try to get as much of that fruit as they can from local sources, and have enjoyed sharing the finished products with those farmers.

Now, their wines are available for anyone to enjoy. Given enough notice, they’ll even bottle a custom-labeled batch for your wedding or other event.

Cameron Wines is open from noon to 8 Tuesday though Saturday, and from noon to 6 on Sundays, at 649 West Swanzey Road, Swanzey, N.H.

Located on busy Route 10, just a couple miles south of Keene’s shopping centers, the Camerons expect to stay busy throughout the holidays.

Their fruit wines are $12 each, and grape wines go for $13. The shop also offers small snack items, and will soon have a selection of chocolates to pair with their wines, as well as gift baskets for local delivery. They hope to make their wines available at New Hampshire retailers in the near future.

David Rainville can be reached at:
drainville@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 279

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