The Big E

Wine and fun have always gone together, and 2000 became the second year that wine was poured during The Big E in Springfield, Massachusetts. One of the largest fairs in the US, The Big E runs during fall months, attracting huge crowds. For the last two years, the final Friday of The Big E has involved local wineries offering tastings of their fine wares during Speciality Foods day.

On Sept 29th, the Chester Hill Winery arrived in the gorgeous sunshine to share their blueberry wines with the visitors to the Big E. Almost immediately their tend was mobbed with interested wine drinkers. Often as people approached the table you would hear quiet, "There are wineries in Massachusetts?" along with, "Blueberry wine? Really?"

Their questions turned to pleasured compliments once they had a taste of the Best Blue, the blueberry wine being poured. Quite a number of people asked immediately if they could buy a few bottles. Unfortunately, archaic laws in Massachusetts prevent this - instead, visitors were given brochures and instructions on how to get to the winery itself for more tastings and purchases.

In addition to the New Blue, Chester Hill Winery puts out a fortified blueberry wine, a seyval-vidal blended white wine, and even a 'New Blue' which is done much like the Beaujolais Nouveau is each year in France. This fresh wine is made in November out of this-year's berries, and is a perfect compliment to Thanksgiving dinners. The 2000 New Blue should be ready by around November 7th - call ahead to be sure, and take a swing by to pick up some of your own.

In addition to the wines, Chester Hill had wine bags, ties, candles, and even corkscrews made from vines of the Loire Valley. All were eagerly bought up by the swarms that came through all day.

As this was Speciality Foods day, quite a number of local bakeries and orchards were also on hand, sharing their wares. We explored their offerings and found quite a few made perfect compliments to the blueberry wine. Smith's Country Cheese was across the grass from the winery booth, and their smoked gouda was delicious with the wine. Cook's Orchard was making not only apple pies but also a teriyaki stir-fry ... they began stir-frying with the blueberry wine, and found it truly enhanced the flavor! Next door, the Busy Corner Farm offered lamb, which was also delicious. Even the dark chocolate covered cranberries from Cape Cod Cranberry Candy were wonderful with blueberry - in fact, that was my personal favorite.

Although no other wineries were present, there were other New England wines being poured at The Big E. The Sam Adams Pub, nearby on the Avenue of the States, offered wines from DiGrazia, Sakonnet and Plymouth Colony along with their food.

The festival was definitely a huge success for Chester Hill, as many people who lived nearby now realized there was a real winery right down the street, and promised to visit. We will work again on convincing the state to allow sales next year - if wineries could sell at the fair while doing tastings, the potential would be practically unlimited!

Chester Hill Winery Webpage
Cook's Orchard: 413/245-3241
Smith's Country Cheese: 800/700-9974 The Big E Photos

All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.