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Expand your palate along Wine, Cheese Trail

June 25, 2014 | Lori Szepelak

Molly Keehn, an employee of Black Birch Vineyard in Southampton, pours a Riesling Reserve during a wine tasting on June 13. The vineyard can be seen through the window.
Reminder Publications photo by Lori Szepelak

GREATER SPRINGFIELD – From bachelorette parties and weddings to special gatherings with family and friends, the region offers a multitude of settings to support local farmers and growers.

On a recent soggy Friday afternoon, Laurie and Michael Chmura of South Hadley were visiting the Black Birch Vineyard in Southampton, one of the many stops on the Massachusetts Wine and Cheese Trail.

“We’ve been here several times and like the wine,” Laurie Chmura said during an interview with Reminder Publications.

Michael Chmura echoed those sentiments.

“We would recommend the wines,” he said, adding their purchases of Riesling, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc Reserve were gifts.

The winery is perched on a hillside at 155 Glendale Road, Southampton, inside a historical New England barn. Visitors are welcome to take a tour of the vineyard and enjoy a picnic on the scenic grounds. Colorful Adirondack chairs dot the lush green lawn as well as several picnic tables.

Molly Keehn of Northampton was among those on hand to greet customers, discuss the history of the post and beam 1850’s barn, and conduct the wine tastings.

“All of our wines are made on site, and all of our grapes are locally sourced,” she said.

Current Black Birch tastings include Riesling, Riesling Reserve, Epic White, Traminette, Vidal Blanc, Rosé, Pinot Noir, Corot Noir, and Cabernet Franc Reserve. Tastings are $7 and include a choice of five varieties. For persons wishing to share a glass of wine on the grounds, the cost is $8. A cheese and cracker board is also available for $12-$14.

Throughout the year a host of concerts are also offered, and The Laughing Tomato brings its wood-fired pizza to the grounds on several occasions. On a clear day, visitors have exceptional views of Mt. Tom, Mt. Holyoke and the Seven Sisters.

Keehn noted that on some evenings there can be more than 100 people in attendance so persons visiting are encouraged to bring their own chairs.

“We can sell wine outside by the bottle or glass,” she said.

For more information on Black Birch Vineyard, visit www.blackbirchvineyard.com or call 413-527-0164.

Black Birch Vineyard is only one of many stops across the state on the wine and cheese trail. Other sites around Western Massachusetts include:

• Amherst Farm Winery, 529 Belchertown Road, Amherst, 413- 253-1400, www.amherstfarmwinery.com. Open through December daily for tours and tastings from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

• Berkshire Blue, 20 Crissey Road, Great Barrington, 413-842-5128, www.berkshirecheese.com. By appointment. Berkshire Blue is an American blue cheese made by hand in small batches using whole unpasteurized cow’s milk and aged for 60 days.

• Chase Hill Farm, 74 Chase Hill Road, Warwick, 978-544-6327, www.chasehillfarm.com. By appointment. Organic certified dairy farm features cheese aged in a special cheese cave.

• Cricket Creek Farm, 1255 Oblong Road, Williamstown, 413-458-5888, www.cricketcreekfarm.com. Farm store open daily from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The farm features artisanal cheese.

• Echo Hill Winery, 101 Wilbraham St., Monson, 413-267-3303, www.echohillorchards.com. Summer, by appointment. Winery produces 12 varieties of wine and hard cider.

• Furnace Brook Winery at Hilltop Orchards, Route 295/508, Canaan Road, Richmond, 413-698-3301, www.furnacebrookwinery.com. Daily free tastings at the store, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wines include Chardonnay, Riesling, Charval, White Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Red Zinfandel, Sparkling Wine and hard cider.

• Gould Farm, 100 Gould Road, Monterey, 413-644-9718, www.gouldfarm.org/bakery, roadside store and café open daily, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Artisanal cheddar cheese is a farm specialty.

• Green River Ambrosia, 324 Wells St., Greenfield, 413-774-5350, www.greenriverambrosia.com. Tours and tastings on Fridays from noon to 6 p.m. Artisanal meadery making honey wines with local honey.

• Les Trois Emme Winery, 8 Knight Road, New Marlborough, 413-528-1015, www.ltewinery.com. Open Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. Wine choices include Cayuga White, Nick Jackson Blush, Kiyo’ Sparkling Wine, Old Vine Zinfandel, Shiraz-Cabernet Blend, Julia’s Ruby Red, Cabernet Sauvignon, Berkshire Red, Stingy Jack Pumpkin Wine, Wizard’s Cranberry Wine, Seyval Blanc and Malbec.

• Mineral Hills Winery at Godard’s Red Hen Farm, 592 Sylvester Road, Florence, 413-586-2575, www.godardfarm.com. Call for tastings and tour hours. The winery produces an array of French American and viniferous grape wines, fruit wines and mead from honey sourced from the farm.

• Mount Warner Vineyards, 85 Mount Warner Road, Hadley, 413-531-4046, www.mwvineyards.com. By appointment. Wines include red and white French hybrid varietals, raspberry wine in a Port style, and a peach-white blend.

• Northfield Mount Hermon, One Lamplighter Way, Mount Hermon, 413-498-3467, www.nmhschool.org/about-nmh-farm-program. Farm store open daily.

• Pioneer Valley Farm & Vineyard, 41 School St., Hatfield, 413-247-3007, www.pioneervalleyvineyard.com. October-December, weekends, noon to 5 p.m., call for appointment.

• Sangha Farm Cheese, 134 West Hill Road, Plainfield, 413-634-0026, www.sanghafarm.com. By appointment. Farm features Goat Rising goat cheese from the herd of Nubian goats and Tava Cheese from the flock of East Fresian sheep.

• Shepherd’s Gate, 131 Union Road, Holland, 413-245-6519, www.shepgate.com. By appointment. Handcrafted desserts and cheeses. Goat milk is also available.

• Upinngil Farm, 411 Main Road, Gill, 413-863-2297, www.upinngil.com. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Farm features cow’s milk farmstead cheese.

For more information on businesses located on the wine and cheese trail across the state, visit www.masswinery.com, www.massdairy.com, or www.mass.gov/massgrown.

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