Story & Photo by Kathi Caldwell-Hopper
It takes grapes – a lot of grapes – to make wine. It is a process that takes skill, knowledge, great grapes, but it also helps to have some old-fashioned manpower (or in this case, foot power!).
Heidi von Götz Cogean, and her partner, Christopher Coache, know all about what it takes to make great wine and they have been perfecting wine making for over 15 years. They want to share a unique event with their guests and the public on October 7 and 8, when they will be holding a Grape Crushing Weekend.
“We will have tubs filled with grapes for grape stomping,” Heidi explains. “Those who are staying at our inn, the 1810 House which is next to the wine tasting and antique barn in Wolfeboro, can take part in the grape stomping as well as anyone brave enough to get their feet purple. For folks participating in the wine tasting, we will offer a special ‘barrel tasting’, a sample of young wine directly from the French oak barrel.”
Heidi and Christopher have certainly put the property, located at 458 Center Street in Wolfeboro, to good use. Locals and vacationers are likely familiar with the 1810 House and Antique Barn. If you travel on Rt. 28/Center Street, there is no doubt you have seen the huge old whitewashed barn with a large Antiques sign on the side of the building. Next to the big barn is a large white farmhouse, which has operated as the 1810 House Bed & Breakfast for many years. For years, the barn has served as a group antiques shop, filled with all kinds of great old items.
When Heidi and Christopher purchased the property recently, they continued to offer bed and breakfast in the farmhouse, which has already proven very popular. Antiques are still sold in the barn, and part of the barn space now also serves as a wine bar and tasting area.
“We want people to experience what a grape stomp is like,” Heidi goes on to say. “Stomping or crushing the grapes is the first step. Visitors can take selfies, videos and those who aren’t grape stomping, can cheer others on!”
Wine lovers may know of the couple from the Newfound Lake Vineyard, located near Wellington State Park in Bristol, NH (near Newfound Lake). The Vineyard is well known for its very popular Wicked Good Red wine. Heidi explains that they had outgrown their Newfound location, and began to look for a larger property that would give them the acreage to grow more cold-weather grapes. “We needed level land with good customer access. We also wanted more space for wine education. We have four acres in Bristol and in Wolfeboro, we have about eight acres.”
Some years ago, Heidi became curious about wine making and knew her ancestors were wine makers in Prussia. Intrigued, she began to do online research on wine making and took a seminar through the University of California and Cornell in New York. She also visited wineries in Europe.
“I have a German cousin who told me that it would be hard to make wine in America!” she remembers with a smile. Always up for a challenge, Heidi proved the cousin wrong by starting to make wine. “I am still learning, but I have learned a lot!”
She uses an oak barrel aging process, which she says makes great wine. “The wine is in the barrels for up to three years.” Once she was set up, Heidi and her family began wine making in earnest. “When we got a second tank in our house, we decided to do wine making commercially and built the building below the vineyard in Bristol. We did it for about five years commercially in the Newfound area and got good reviews.”
As the winemaking business grew, Heidi realized they would need more space. The Wolfeboro property meant a big move, and diving into a new business – the bed and breakfast, not to mention the antiques shop, but she was up for the challenge.
It took three tractor-trailers to move the business and their lives to Wolfeboro but they were on schedule, and opened the bed and breakfast on Memorial Day of this year. Guests stop in often to do the wine tasting and to shop and learn more about the business. Heidi does wine tastings for guests at the large, wooden wine bar located in the back area of the barn.
The October 7 and 8 grape stomping will see four tons of red grapes from California offered for a traditional grape stomp. Heidi explains that normally, they use a grape crushing machine and de-stem the grapes as well. The chance to get in a vat and stomp grapes the old-fashioned way is for fun and as a way to allow guests to experience part of the wine making process. Once the grapes are crushed and de-stemmed, they are put in tubs with yeast. This starts the fermentation process, which takes a number of days. Heidi will monitor the vats and use a large stainless-steel plunger to “push the cap down” as the process is known. This is done at least three times a day and she will monitor the mixture to make sure it is kept wet. As the sugar content in the grapes declines, eaten by the yeast, a rough wine is born about a week later. It is all part of the process, which ends with the wine being aged for many months in the French oak barrels.
Heidi is always up for the challenge of trying new things, and recalls her father bringing her cranberries from the only bog on Newfound Lake to produce the berry in the area. He told her to make a wine with the cranberries, which she indeed did, along with a wine made from blueberries.
“We make a rose wine from a NH grown grape. The grape survives in temperatures of 30 below zero. This, indeed, is the ultimate definition of the cold weather grapes that Heidi and Christopher grow.
“We will be planting root stock next spring; this will be two-year-old root stock. These are cold-weather grapes. We won’t expect to see a harvest of grapes for about four years,” she says.
Wine tastings in the antique barn allow guests to sample and learn about four wines (usually white and sweet wines and a California red wine) and to keep the souvenir wine glass. The customer also gets a coupon for $2.00 off a bottle of wine.
Those who want to immerse themselves in the wine experience, while enjoying foliage and fun in the Lakes Region, can stay at the bed and breakfast, and also participate in the grape stomping event. It is a unique and fun way to get away for a weekend in the Lakes Region at this special time of year.
The winery also offers Advice to the Bride Wine Tasting Bachelorette Parties for the bride and her wedding party and other guests. Heidi says it’s a casual and fun way for women to sample and learn about wine and also offer the bride some lighthearted advice before the wedding!
It does indeed take a lot of grapes to make good wine, but Heidi and Christopher have found that sharing their knowledge and the wine making experience with others is a great way to introduce Winnipesaukee Winery to the public.
For information on the 1810 House Bed and Breakfast, the Winnipesaukee Winery and Antiques Shop, visit www.1810house.net or call 603-515-1765. The winery is open Thursday through Sunday, noon to 5 pm.