Hard Cider & Blueberry Wine!

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excerpted from The Wine Wench

May 17, 2010
By Gayle Hedrington

Another great winery to visit is LaBelle Winery in Amherst NH. Although they are not opened for tasting on a regular schedule they do offer a once a month wine and cheese tasting. You can find out when their tasting are by visiting their web site at LabelleWineryNH.com. You can see their schedule and fill out a form, and then receive email directions.

Wine maker Amy LaBelle, toured Nova Scotia 10 years ago and stopped by a winery making blueberry wine. A visit changed her life. “It was like a bolt of lightning hit me, I knew immediately this is what I should be doing.” Amy returned to her apartment in Boston and started making wine. For six years, she continued making wine as a hobby and four years ago, she started making wine professionally in Walpole NH.

LaBelle discovered Allison’s Orchard in Walpole NH and they convinced her to help them make wine using their apples. In the fall of 2005, she produced her first commercial batch, which quickly sold out.

Amy takes wine making seriously and has attended wine making classes at the University of California, Davis. Some classes Amy took on line, but she also traveled to California for labs.

Amy LaBelle is the winemaker but her husband Cesar Arboleda is active in their homegrown business. He guided me though the tasting, and is well versed in winemaking. My favorite was the Granite State Apple a semi sweet wine.

In addition to having eight Medal Winner wines, LaBelle produces several unique cooking wines, Tomato, Onion, and Jalapeño. Amy loves to cook; it is evident in her wines, and recipe cards the winery offers. I was anxious to taste the Jalapeño because of my affection for Mexican food. It was hot, but not hot to dilute the true wine taste. It would be excellent in cooking, in a Bloody Mary or if you are adventurous enough by itself on a cold winter’s eve.

LaBelle uses apples and grapes for their wines, and offer an array of red and white. LaBelle’s wine is available through the NH State Liquor Stores and in specialty stores including the Co-op in Hanover.