In the four or so years we’ve been traveling the Connecticut Wine Trail, we’d never stopped by Holmberg Orchards, despite its proximity to five other wineries in the southeast corner of the state. And that’s my fault. Since the winery is tied to fruit orchards, I automatically assumed the wines were overly sweet and cloying.
But you know what happens when you assume. You make an “ass” out of…OK, we all know the joke. And as a graduate of Assumption College, it’s not like I haven’t heard it one trillion times.
During a weekend away in Mystic Country, we were determined to shore up our 2012 wine trail passports. For me to hit the magic number of 16, we had to get six stamps in two days. (Rob is three behind, because he…misplaced his original passport. In his desk.) So on a rainy, gloomy Saturday, we arrived at Holmberg, located smack between Groton and Norwich, for a first-time taste of their wine offerings.
As expected, the wines are mainly fruit-based (Bartlett pear, apple, apple cranberry) with a Vidal Blanc for a change-up. But where Holmberg really shines is its hard ciders, made from three different varieties of apples – Russett, Macintosh and Cortland, along with a pear version.
The sweetness levels of the ciders vary, but they’re all crisp and refreshing. Of the apple ciders, the Russett was the driest, described by Holmberg as “full-bodied and tart.” It was my favorite of the bunch. The Cortland is characterized as “light, sparkling and fun…sweet and very drinkable” and the Macintosh is “sweet and very smooth…meant for true apple lovers.” We did taste a fourth, but the memory of it escapes me and I don’t have any notes from the visit (Some journalist I am.)
Holmberg’s cider is sold in 12-ounce single bottles; in four-packs for $12.99 or in 750ML bottles for $9.99. We brought home a bottle each of Russett (6.8% ABV) and Macintosh (6.5% ABV) with an eye on fall sipping. And though I’m not that eager for cool days, changing leaves and impending snow, I think these ciders will help ease the transition a little.
I’ve always been pretty ambivalent about hard cider, even back to the days of Cider Jack in college. I’d still prefer an actual beer or sparkling wine if given the choice. But if you fancy yourself a cider fan, I believe you’ll love these. At the very least, it’s a diverse change of pace for your wine travels.
Holmberg Orchards, 12 Orchard Lane, Gales Ferry, CT. 860-464-7305, holmbergorchards.com.