New Hartford is the New Hartford
Jerram Winery, New Hartford
May 18, 2008
[December 2012 Update: Wow, this is a weird page to revisit. Jerram was the second winery I’d ever visited – in my life. I remember being so wide-eyed and excited about the whole wine trial thing that I first learned about during this visit. So I went home, sat down, and pretty much copy and pasted most of the stuff for this page – which is really weird and rare for CMTQ. I’ve been back to Jerram several more times, as quite frankly, It’s on the way to other, better wineries. I’ve had some very odd experiences there; seemingly more and more strange with each visit. Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems quite clear to me that they do not appreciate those of us with kids in tow – even super well-behaved ones. Which I understand. Well, it’s not like I’d be going back for the wine anyway.]
I’ve been wanting to use this title or a variant for a year now. But there isn’t much in New Hartford; which is not to say it’s not a perfectly lovely New Englandy little town out on Route 44 (A road with quintessential New England towns all the way from Avon to Salisbury). It’s just sort of funny to me that Hartford is always trying to reinvent itself and comes up with one dumb slogan after another. So I figured I’d come up with a dumb slogan for New Hartford – a town that couldn’t be further from “old” Hartford if it were on Jupiter.
Aside from Satan’s Kingdom (CTMQ Visit here), there isn’t much for me in town. There’s a little town history museum that may or may not be open and there is this – the Jerram Winery on the southside of town a couple miles on windy Route 219.
[2012: And lots of hiking.]
The small, Jerram-family owned winery – the second on my CT Wine Tour – is celebrating its 10th year this year. As I feel I must write every time I visit a winery – I really know nothing about wine but I like meeting the people who make it here in CT; not an easy feat. Plus, as with everything on this blog, it’ll be cool to say I’ve been to all 20 wineries in the state. I think.
[2012: Silly 2008 me. I’ve been to over 30 now and I don’t feel any cooler.]
Anyway, since I’ve disclosed that I’m wine-ignorant, you’ll know I lifted the following from a writer who knows far more about wine. From wineintro.com:
“James Jerram runs the vineyards and winery with his wife, who runs a gardening supply. This allows the couple to combine their favorite hobbies, and cuts their commute down to a stroll in the back yard! As James explained, “I do this because I like to do this.” It’s a labour of love, and the love shines through in the way he talks about his vines and wines.
James is no newcomer to winemaking in Connecticut. He began the winery in 1982 with a planting of Marechal Foch. Unfortunately, weather in New England is rarely cooperative. He lost 100 vines outright during a winter storm, and another 100 died the following year, giving grapes as they went. In the late ’80s he added in Seyval and Vignoles, and soon Villard de Blanc and Chambourcin followed. His love of growing goes beyond grapes – his vineyards deliberately curl around an old Bartlett Pear tree which he loves. He has even made pear wine from the fruit!
Now that he has spent 20 years on the vineyards, he has a good feel for the grape varieties and the Connecticut climate. If he could start the vineyards again, he would plant it with Marechal Foch and Seyval, and concentrate on those two varietals. Out of his 10 1/2 acres he currently has 4 in vines, plus another acre in the south end of town. He’s eyeing other areas to further expand his vineyards.
James has learned about vineyard management as he went. He began with the head trellis style for his vines, where the grapes grow in the center of the vine and the leaves spread out to both sides. He is now moving to a Vertical Shoot Position style, where the vines create a canopy to each side of the grapes.
The winery and tasting room reside in a carriage house from the 1800s. The horse stall retains its doors and window, and now allows whites to cold stabilize through the winter. The main carriage area currently serves as both tasting room and winemaking area, where they ferment in tanks ranging from 50 to 550 gallons. They are already in the process of expanding further, adding another 14′ to the back of the buildings. This will allow all winemaking processing to move downstairs, and leave the main floor free for gourmet foods and other wine accessories.”
Jerram Winery offers ten wines – six whites and four reds. The prices range from $11.99/bottle to $17.99/bottle – as well as the $6.00 tasting of all the wines. Hoang and I (and Damian) made a quick stop at the rather attractive winery and gulped down our samples. Mr. Jerram was very friendly and offered to answer any questions we had. I did probe about the grape variety called Marechal Foch. Especially after noting the picture of Foch Mr. Jerram had.
Marechal Foch (pronounced “mar-esh-shall-fosh”), is an inter-specific hybrid red wine grape variety. It was named after the French marshal Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929), who played an important role in the negotiation of the armistice terms during the closing of the First World War – but having a wine grape named after him surpassed any war honors he ever received.
We bought a bottle of our favorite, Highland Reserve, which sounds like scotch but is a red mish-mosh of some sort. Overall, Jerram Wineries offers a very pleasant experience and if you are ever tooling down 44 with no particular place to go, this is a nice little diversion.
For the Curious: