Party up, wind down at New Haven vineyard

NEW HAVEN — “This is another Roadhouse Rehab original. We like this one, and we hope you do, too.” 
From the porch of Lincoln Peak Vineyards, the Vergennes-based band sent bluesy sound waves over a contented crowd of about 300 picnickers, wine-lovers and families this past Friday evening. To the west, the sun inched toward the horizon, and a sprawling 12 acres of homegrown grapevines hung from vines all around. The music — an eclectic mixture of blues, jam and what Roadhouse Rehab calls “B-side ’70s you forgot you loved” — beckoned stomping toddlers and septuagenarians alike to a modest-sized dance floor at the front of the stage.
This was the fifth event in Lincoln Peak Vineyard’s Concert Series, a run of Friday evening musical performances (previously called “Wine-Down Fridays”) scheduled through the summer. The series features outdoor concerts at the vineyard’s headquarters off River Road in New Haven, and boasts local fare, wine by the glass, and free admission to anyone ready to “wine down” after a long workweek.
This past Friday was Kim Callahan’s third time attending one of the vineyard’s gatherings, and she plans to keep coming back. 
“The scene is great,” the New Haven resident said. “There are lots of families and people of all ages. You can dance, and you can talk, because the music is at a level where you can hear each other.”
Members of the family-owned winery — Chris and Michaela Granstrom and their daughter Sara — could be seen directing cars in the crowded lot, passing the hat so that attendees in the field could give donations toward the band, and answering questions about their impressive collection of wines in the main shop. They were also stopped frequently by the many friends they’ve made since they started hosting the event in 2011.
“We have a lot of loyal supporters,” said Sara Granstrom, manager of the vineyard.
Jenny VanNosdeln from Almost Home Market in Bristol sold an array of fresh and local dishes. The salmon filet, glazed with a sweet chili sauce, and local kale salad with maple balsamic vinaigrette were among the crowd favorites — all made from scratch.
Food at this coming Friday’s (July 1) Concert Series will be provided by Lickskillet, a popular food truck that was also featured at last Sunday’s Foodaroo festival in Middlebury. The truck will serve up TexMex fare, including dishes like applewood-smoked chicken tacos, ceviche and roasted poblano gazpacho.
Left-Eye Jump, a band based in Burlington, will be serenading this Friday’s crowd.
“They do real, classic, hard-driving blues,” Sara said. “We’re really excited to have them.”
All of the vineyard’s wines are available by the glass at the event, but a dry rosé called Starlight has been particularly popular this season, Sara said. Starting this Friday, and for a very limited time, the Granstroms will make early vintages of Starlight available by the glass.
“We tried them, and they all tasted really good,” she said.
Wine-Down Fridays began as an around-the-calendar monthly event that welcomed a small crowd to a quiet evening at the vineyard. The entire affair was managed within the shop’s main room and the porch, if the weather was warm. The vineyard hosted Cooper & Lavoie, a local blues duo, during their first concert series event in 2011, and the Granstroms have been featuring artists from the area ever since.
In 2013, they expanded the event, moving it to the field and changing the calendar to a summer schedule. They now see between 250 and 400 guests every Friday night.
“We didn’t envision that it would grow this big, and it’s been so embraced,” Sara said. “We feel so lucky making wine and farming and doing business in such a vibrant and engaged community.”
When the Granstrom family isn’t booking concerts and hosting giant weekly events, they’re busy selling 25,000 bottles of wine per year. According to Sara, business is thriving. She enjoys teaching customers about the grapes used in the wine, which may be a little unfamiliar to wine-drinkers. The family carefully selects grapes like “La Crescent,” “Marquette” and “Frontenac” that can survive Vermont’s less-than-mild winters. All wines are made from the grapes grown at Lincoln Peak Vineyards and available to try at tastings every day from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“People are drinking from the vines just sitting around them,” Sara said on Friday.
For the Concert Series, the vineyard opens every Friday at 5:30 p.m. for picnicking. The bands perform from 6 to 8 p.m. Admission is free, and wine is sold by the glass.
More information is available at the Lincoln Peak Vineyard website: lincolnpeakvineyard.com.

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