Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Farm Weeks: Hill Top Berry Farm and Winery

I hadn’t been back to Hill Top Farm and Winery since my first visit in April.  So, when I heard that they had their new seasonal wines and meads available for tasting, I made a return trip.  

Sadly, I missed the Cranberry Table Wine since it had already sold out.  I almost very nearly missed trying the “Hunter’s Moon,” which is the Pumpkin Mead.  Evidently, it is also flying off the shelves.  Given how few pumpkin meads are out there in the world and it is the season, it is no wonder. 
I had mixed feelings about the “Hunter’s Moon.”  In my head, I kind of imagined a thicker, orangish-brown concoction in which pumpkin pie was somehow fermented and made in to something drinkable.  "Hunter's Moon's" color, though, does look more like most white wines.  The nose is strong of pumpkin pie spice, particularly cloves.   

After the tasting, I went ahead and got a full glass to give it a better taste and see what happens when you have multiple sips.  What I found is that as a sipping mead, I wasn’t won over.  It was too much spice and not enough pumpkin.  As a pairing wine, though, I liked it a lot more.  By chance, my friend Ellie had packed pears and brie along with soup.  What I found is that the “Hunter’s Moon” was at its best when drunk in partnering with the pear and cheese.   That gave a better palate balance, allowing the pear to bring out the strengths of the mead and the mead brought out notes of the pear.  I think a glass with a slice of Pumpkin Pie or a baked brie in pastry would be the best way of enjoying the pumpkin mead. 

Other new wines I got to sample this time around was the Sweet Vixen and the Peach Wine.  The Sweet Vixen is a strawberry wine created to celebrates the owner’s daughter’s graduation from Sweet Briar College.  The nose and taste is a little jammie for my taste.  It makes a great cooking wine, though; Ellie used it to make strawberry ice-cream as well as in brownies and as a sauce reduction for them.  Both were superbly decadent.  I did really like the Peach Wine.  It fits the tasting notes description of “biting into a ripe juicy peach, without the pit and the fuzz.”  I actually got a stronger note that reminded me more of white peaches and that made my day. 

The visit to Hilltop was a much needed trip.  The semester has been so crazy that I was starting to feel like I was missing Fall.  Sitting in the rocking chairs, looking over the blackberry fields and turning leaves, and appreciating a glass of pumpkin mead, I got to have a perfect Fall moment.  

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