By N. R. Mallery
When you live in Vermont, the taste of pure maple syrup might just be in your blood. Well, here’s a sustainable story about the maple wine worth taking note of.
This fall, while traveling south on Montpelier, on Route 12, my attention was drawn to a solar system in a natural setting for a winery called Fresh Tracks Farm and Winery — and it was open!
Call it fate, but what I learned and tasted is why I am sharing this story. The inviting, warm atmosphere led me to a taste-testing like no other that I had ever experienced. On the menu was Maple Wine! All I could say upon that first taste crossing my tongue was WOW! The couple next to me had the same reaction. What an incredible find — like a rare gem.
In 2002, Christina Castegren had a sustainable vision for the whole farm that started as a labor of love. She knew that Vermont presented a challenge to grow grapes for wine production, let alone to do it sustainably.
Sustainable practices are at the heart of everything they do at Fresh Tracks Farm. They believe that what they do and how they live on and around their land has a direct impact on what they receive from it. Geothermal is used as a renewable energy source to heat and cool the Tasting Room and Winery. Solar from an 8.1 kW system supports a portion of their electricity, as well.
A variety of natural farming principles are drawn upon to work the land with knowledge of both science and tradition to foster healthy growth and responsible usage. Tracy Roux, the Tasting Room Manager, commented, “sustainability is also about running an honest business, providing good value and quality products to our customers, and a fair living for their employees. We believe that everyone should benefit from being a part of Fresh Tracks Farm.”
Farming at Fresh Tracks has included some maple syrup production, since the start. The sugaring set-up includes a vacuum system and a wood-fired pan, where they produce about twenty gallons of syrup each year. Twenty gallons are for syrup for retail, plus maple sap used for wine production. They concentrate the sap to a sugar content suitable for fermentation. Maple fermentation is difficult and takes longer than for grapes. It is necessary to make the maple wine in small batches – and can take up to four months. Maple wine is a dessert wine, which means that it is sweeter, higher in alcohol, and the perfect post-dinner treat.
All I can say is that tasting is believing, and that you can likely find this gem only in Vermont!
They are located at 4373 Rte 12, Berlin, Vermont. 802.223.1151. You can find more info about Fresh Tracks Farm and Winery at www.freshtracksfarm.com/