AWG Correspondent

Elizabeth Smith

Lincoln Peak Vineyard Photos

Lincoln Peak Vineyard Review

Region: Vermont

Reviewed: June 4, 2016 by Elizabeth Smith
Published: October 26, 2016

Three miles north of Middlebury and 25 miles south of Burlington in New Haven, Vermont, is one of Vermont’s premier wine producers, Lincoln Peak Vineyard. Situated on 16 acres of picturesque farmland are 12 acres of vineyards and a couple of modest buildings, including a tasting room and a production building. Blessed with stony loam soils, Lincoln Peak produces around 2400 cases of wine, including la crescent, Louise Swenson, Swenson white, adalmiina, petite pearl, prairie star, frontenac blanc, frontenac gris, frontenac noir, and marquette.

Lincoln Peak Vineyard has quite a story. Owner and winemaker Chris Granstrom, who had been fascinated by farming since college when he worked summer jobs at dairy farms and apple orchards, had been a strawberry farmer since 1981. However, Chris became curious about cold-climate, hybrid grape varieties that were under development in the upper Midwest of the United States. In 2001, grape breeder Tom Plocher sent a shoebox of grapevine cuttings to Chris. That box contained Minnesota 1211 cuttings, better known as marquette, which Chris used to plant a grapevine nursery. Within five years, the nursery led to winegrowing and in 2006, Lincoln Peak released its first commercial vintage. In 2008, Lincoln Peak opened their tasting room and retail space, and in 2008-2009, their production building was completed. Throughout its short history, the vineyard and winery has remained family-owned and operated. Chris’ daughter, Sara, returned home to join the winery in 2010 as its business, marketing, and communications manager.

Similarly to other Vermont producers, Chris employs trellising, training, shoot positioning, and shoot thinning techniques which allow for the grapes’ maximum exposure to sunlight. As he told our group during our tour of the vineyards and winery, the key to great wine is “getting the sun to shine on the grapes.” Chris also shared with us that hybrid grape varieties have higher acid and sugar levels and their pulps also have some color, unlike vinifera grapes. He strives to leave the grapes on the vine as long as possible to control high acid levels. He has also been experimenting with the judicious use of oak aging as well as the types of oak used. He has found himself backing away from oak influence so that the wines remain vibrant and fruit forward.

During our visit, we joined Chris on the patio of the tasting room building to taste some of his current releases. Most of the wines Chris makes are blends: Black Sparrow (white blend), Starlight (a rosé of 95% frontenac gris, 5% marquette), Limestone (la crescent and frontenac blanc), Sycamore (frontenac blanc and la crescent with skin contact fermentation and malolactic fermentation), Heartwood (a saignée rose of marquette), Marquette, and Ragtime Red (90% frontenac noir and 10% la crescent with no malolactic fermentation). Tastings at Lincoln Peak are only $5 for a tasting of five wines and a souvenir glass, a price unheard of in most wine regions. The winery also offers a few of their wines on tap which customers can purchase in refillable growlers. The grapes for all of their wines are grown and produced on the property. No grapes are sourced from other vineyards.

It’s not surprising that my favorite wine of the tasting was the flagship 2014 Marquette. Chris has triumphantly created a rich and sinewy red wine that demonstrates a deliberate balance of fruit, acid, and tannin. Ripe, dark berry flavors are complemented by just the right amount of oak spice. As I departed the winery with my bottle of marquette in hand, I realized I was taking with me a taste of Chris Granstrom’s success story, from strawberry farmer to world-class Vermont winegrower and winemaker.

Address & Contact Information: 142 River Road New Haven, Vermont 05472. Telephone: 803-388-7368, email:, website: Tasting Hours: Wed-Sun 11:00-5:00.

Overall Rating:  

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