Sow’s Ear Winery, Brooksville, Maine

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I’m drinking wine in my chilly Boston-area home tonight, but dreaming of my afternoon at The Sow’s Ear Winery. I’m guzzling, err, sipping a very nice Tempranillo with a noisy Gordon Ramsey in the background beating up on those young chefs, including Boston’s Tremont 647’s Andy Husbands, but I’m wishing it was a bright and hot and gorgeous Summer afternoon in Maine, the type of afternoon that makes for lazing around on porches with wine, however fruity or unusual. I had such an afternoon about four weeks ago.

I’ve been visiting the Blue Hill/Deer Isle area of Maine for almost 10 years, and even wed up here in 2005. During all that time, I never visited this casual winery set in the nook of some lush farm land. I have to admit, I was a bit snooty toward the idea of fruit wine, meaning non-grape wine. I’m always snooty toward any wine that doesn’t involve grapes. New England has longed to be taken seriously as wine-growing territory and fruit wine doesn’t work in our favor, you know?

We stumbled into this winery, a winery that almost makes wine in spite of itself, with caution. It’s not fancy or polished or nothing close to serious. After about 20 minutes of waiting for someone, anyone, to give us a taste of the local harvest, we finally found the note that suggested we ring the bell. That’s the bell – hanging off the porch just to the right of the table filled with bottles of wine.

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A head popped up from the fruit bushes that snuggled into the land, almost a football field away. We waved. He waved, and maneuvered up toward the tasting room. After being hunched over picking berries, he had to walk out the kinks and make his way toward us. Of course, it was hot so our tongues wagged but we tucked them into our belts and waited with patience.

This winery is the farthest thing from fancy, so don’t expect music piping in over loud speakers or fine-stemmed glasses or   comfortable, AC-driven temperatures. This tasting room is a prettied-up barn with a porch, a book collection and a gorgeous tasting table that resembles an old tree winding its way through the building.

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I saw this tasting room table and the mismatched stools and the tiny glasses and the bear with the beret and, frankly, I felt quite at home. I wanted to put my feet up and pour my own tastes. I sat on the stool and never wanted to leave. I mean, take a look. Would you? It’s charming and quirky, and made me feel like I was surrounded by charm. I felt hugged. But let’s get to the wine…

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The Sow’s Ear doesn’t make your traditional wines. They grow fruit and make wine from that fruit, so think bottles packed with the flavors of blueberry, cranberry, apple, rhubarb and the like. But just as that thought passes through your mind, take out the sweet. Totally remove the idea of sweet, sugary wine from your thoughts. This wine is focused and slightly fruity, but solid and worthy of being served alongside a beautiful, savory Maine dinner.

The blueberry wine was like an easy-drinking red. The rhubarb wine sounded sweet but turned out to be quite perfect for our lighter vacation fare like all that fresh fish. And the sparkling cider, well, it certainly sparkled and felt ripe for celebration. We brought a few bottles home with us, about a few more than we thought we’d buy, but it really was delightful wine. The setting didn’t hurt either…

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Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic StudioFollow Maggie Battista on Instagram.

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