Boston Wine Expo 2008
Sharpe Hill - Catherine Vollweiler
We were lucky enough to talk with Catherine Vollweiler, owner of Sharpe Hill Winery located in Pomfret, Connecticut. Sharpe Hill makes my favorite red wine in the entire New England region, their Sharpe Hill Cab Franc. This is one of my favorite red wines across any wine region, too. I personally think this is a perfect location for this grape to grow. Not only does Sharpe Hill make excellent wine, but their restaurant is just superb.
The vines were planted back in 1992 and they have 25 acres under vine. Catherine explained that they were lucking enough to "have planted in a magnificent region." They get "direct consulting from an Alsace winery to get it right." The consultants say "how the grapes are hanging are twin to in the Alsace". In fact the land has a half dozen of the same minerals, too. Catherine explained that the northeast in general has minerally soil, which makes it great for growing grapes similar to France.
Sharpe Hill's top selling wine is their Ballet of Angels, a light white wine which can be found in most regional wine shops. Catherine explained that "the inspiration was a lovely wine in France. It is a relatively easy drinking, inexpensive wine." She says that customer satisfaction is responsible for its success - "if you have a product, they'll find you. Ballet has sold itself through word of mouth." It is definitely about quality, not quantity here.
She herself drinks Ballet nightly as she cooks - "if you enjoy it, it picks you up."
We asked how the vineyard is doing this year. "We had a great season, the weather was superb. It was a great winter. If we have no problem with bud break and frost we'll have a sensational season. Last year's harvest was fabulous, and we are pruning now."
One of their featured varieties is St. Croix, which is resistant to temperatures down to 40 below. They also go organic as much as possible. They use preventative sulfur spray before bud break, and that's about it.
We asked about the restaurant, one of the best in the area. "The restaurant is doing wonderful. We have Friday an Saturday dinner, and Sunday has two lunches. It is reservation only." She explained that they are getting a lot of support from the local community. "Americans now are realizing that when all the farms are gone - that's it". Sales are doing very well. "All of our vintages sell out by the end of the season if not before - the wine drinkers don't need to go to France or California" to find high quality products. Ballet in particular does extremely well. "Ballet has such a faithful market" - she likened it to people who will use only Heinz ketchup or Hellman's mayonnaise on thier foods. If they find something they love, they keep using it.
Be sure to head out to Pomfret to visit the winery and restaurant, and try the cab franc!
Sharpe Hill Winery
Boston Wine Expo 2008 Notes
Wine Events and Reviews
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.