Three of Shelburne Vineyard’s wines took home the top honor “Best in Category” designation at the 11th Annual ASWA Competition. This year’s competition judged 532 wines from 92 wineries representing 12 states and awarded just 58 Gold Medals from which the Best in Category wines were selected.
The Shelburne Vineyard wines that achieved this honor include the vineyard’s new and not yet released Single Barrel Marquette. This wine, made from grapes gathered from the vineyard’s 2014 harvest and aged until this spring, was chosen by vineyard staff from a single barrel selected for its outstanding characteristics. The barrel produced less than 300 bottles, which will be released for sale later this year. In addition to the Single Barrel Marquette, Shelburne Vineyard’s 2015 semi-dry white wine, LaCrescent, grown on their RT 7 McCabe’s Brook Vineyard site, also was named Best in Category as was their 2015 red blend, Harvest Widow’s Revenge, which combines grapes from each of the vineyard’s three plantings in Shelburne and Charlotte.
Earlier, this spring, Shelburne Vineyard also garnered top honors at the Big E (Eastern States Exposition) held in Springfield, Mass. where their Duet Ice Wine was named Best Grape Wine and Best VT Grown Wine and their LaCrescent earned a Gold Medal.
These wines, with the exception of the Duet Ice Wine, were all crafted from cold hardy grapes produced by Shelburne Vineyard from their own Shelburne and Charlotte VT plantings. The Duet, also grown and produced by Shelburne Vineyard, is produced from less the cold hardy hybrids, Vidal Blanc and Arctic Riesling, which the vineyard grows on its most protected site located on the shores of Lake Champlain where the large body of water keeps the temperatures on the surrounding fields just a few degrees warmer during the winter months.
Following accepted ice wine production standards, these grapes are actually left to hang on the vines until the temperature drops to about 15°, when the watery content of the grape is frozen and the sugary juices remain slushy and less frozen, so the first pressing releases those intensely flavored, sugary juices. When the sugar level in the pressed juice begins to drop, the vineyard’s winemaker, Ethan Joseph, discards the remaining must and ferments just the sweet juices to create the special Duet dessert wine.
Shelburne Vineyard was founded in 1998 by Ken Albert, who had spent years growing grapes in his yard while working as an engineer for IBM and living in Shelburne. Upon retirement in 1998, he leased a three-acre parcel of land where he began planting grapes commercially and produced his first vintage of wines in 2001.