SHOREHAM — In the burgeoning homegrown Vermont wine market Shoreham Winery is the newest player.
But the business, which acquired its commercial winery license last year and debuted at this fall’s Tour de Farms bike event, has been percolating for seven years now, ever since owner Greg Borah planted his first vines.
“You plant the grapes and then you realize, ‘In three years’ time, I’m going to have a harvest. I’d better know what to do with it,’” Borah said.
At first, Borah was making wine in specialized five-gallon containers known as carboys, reading every book he could and seeking advice from Chris Granstrom of Lincoln Peak Vineyard, whom he counts as his winemaking mentor. Starting out, Borah’s strategy was to follow directions exactly and hope for the best.
Like any skill, though, he picked it up little by little.
“A couple of years ago, I found I didn’t need the books, I just had the intuition,” he said.
Borah came to the field of winemaking from the desire to do something involving agriculture, and he said the grapes, which require constant vigilance during the growing season, give him the anchor he was looking for.
“It’s a real day-to-day stake in what’s going on in the natural world,” said Borah. “I like being right there, in the day.”
And he said his appreciation for wine has grown along with his understanding of winemaking, as has an understanding of its limitations. There’s only so much you can do with a batch of wine, he said, before you have to let the grapes do the work.
“It’s a Vermont wine, so you can’t make it be a French wine,” he said.
After five years refining his technique, Borah filed for a commercial winery license in time to offer the 2010 batch to the public. He said he’s making about 600 gallons of wine each year, which works out to 3,000 bottles — a very small winery, on the scale of things, but just enough for Borah, his wife Pat and their three grown children to handle.
This year, the winery is offering four types of 2010 wine — two reds, a rosé and a white — as well as an ice cider made with apples from Cornwall’s Sunrise Orchards, in partnership with orchard owner Barney Hodges.
“Everything is to scale,” said Borah of the winery’s size. “This size tank, that size press and crusher. If we were able to grow more grapes, the arrangement would have to be adjusted.”
That works well for now, since Borah isn’t planning on giving up his day job as a general contractor anytime soon.
A GROUP EFFORT
Borah credits his family and Granstrom for all their help in getting the small winery off the ground, but there are others, too: To him, it’s truly a group endeavor.
Seven years ago, Walter Phelps of Orwell agreed to let Borah plant grapevines on his land, where they’ve thrived ever since. More recently Borah began using space at Vermont Refrigerated Storage, owned by Barney Hodges and Gregory O’Brien.
“They make it possible,” said Borah. “I grow the grapes, I make the wine, but without them it wouldn’t happen.”
The Shoreham Winery’s new home hosts a space where Borah processes the grapes and ages the wine, as well as a tasting area flanked by wooden cases of 2010 wine.
Borah held open hours in the tasting room during the holiday season, but he said it won’t be open on a regular basis during the rest of the year. For now, those who want a drink from the Shoreham Winery can find his wine at Buxton’s Store in Orwell, Greg’s Meat Market in Middlebury, and the Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op. Or, he said, he’s available at 897-7126.
Reporter Andrea Suozzo is at email@example.com.