West Dudley, MA
NOTE: Mellea Winery shut down in 2001. This report is historical.
Western Massachusetts retains much of the charm and allure of olden days. Sturbridge is known for its 1860s reenactment village, and antique shows. The Berkshires are gorgeous in fall foliage. It is fitting that this rich landscape is backdrop to a rustic farm winery - Mellea Winery. On a fine day in July, we readied the motorcycle and took the backroads to explore the area.
|Mellea Winery is located in Dudley, Mass. We had visited before, last summer, during a picnic they held, and brought home a case of their wine. This time, being on motorcycle, we didn't have that luxury, and could only taste.|
I sampled some of the delicious offerings from Creations to Revelations, who was offering samples. Then we started with the tour.
|Allie, the owner, explained how all work at this family winery is done by hand. You can see the three acres of vines from the tasting building, and all of the tanks and casks are just below the bar. They take great care pruning the vines to specified lengths, and removing grapes during growing season to maintain the peak performance of each vine. The winemaster begins testing the grapes during late summer, so he can begin harvest at the moment of perfect ripeness.|
It being too hot for an outside tour, the fermentation tanks became our first stop. The largest of the stainless steel tanks holds 1500 gallons. Depending on the type of wine being created and the style involved, the tank fermentation time can vary greatly. Mellea is very careful to watch sediment, though - they have found that most drinkers dislike sediment a great deal.
|They clean out the tanks up to four times during fermentation, and then run the wine through a series of filters to remove any extra sediment. The wine then pipes directly into a bottling system. Corks are inserted into each bottle with a lever-arm machine, then labels and outer cork wrap are applied by hand.|
The tour finished, we went back up to the bar for a tasting. We started with the two new Chardonnays - the 1995 Nassau Chardonnay and the 1997 Chardonnay. The Nassau grapes are hand picked in Nassau County on Long Island, while the '97 Chardonnay is created from Californian grapes. The Nassau was barrel aged in French oak, and had a full bodied, full flavor. Quite rich. In comparison, the Chardonnay, also aged in oak, was much lighter, crisper, very creamy.
Bob, being the driver, watched as I had some Cranberry Classic, which is a blend of mostly Riesling with a bit of cranberry juice added in. This is another great hot-weather drink, very light and brisk tasting, just a hint of fruit in it.
Interestingly, the Fleur de May had been sold out until a liquor store found they had a case left and returned it in exchange for another case. This is a red blend and had a smoky and cherry flavor to it. It would be a great compliment to chicken. The Cabernet Sauvignon is one of my favorites, and is oaky and fruity, again with a cherry flavor to it.
It's a real shame that Mellea shut down!
The Wineries of Massachusetts
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