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7 New Englandy Discoveries at Sun WineFest '13


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Moonlight Meadery: A New England Success Story
Moonlight Meadery Honey Wines - Wild and Frisky

Wild and Frisky are two of the evocatively named honey wines made in New Hampshire by Moonlight Meadery. Both are made with wild mountain blueberries. Frisky, which we preferred, also has a hint of maple syrup.

© 2013 Kim Knox Beckius
The annual Sun WineFest at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, offers devotees of wine, beer and spirits a chance to sip an incredible variety of intoxicating beverages. 2013 was the fourth straight year I've attended this popular event, and, with my 20something niece as my assistant, I was determined to sample an even larger selection of vintages and brews than usual and to focus on products with a New England connection.

As we picked up our wine glasses at 11 a.m., we were already discussing whether the honey wines made in New Hampshire by Moonlight Meadery might be the ideal WineFest "breakfast." A representative from the meadery overheard us and immediately offered to introduce us to founder and mead maker Michael Fairbrother. I knew vaguely that there was a mead producer in New Hampshire, but until I chatted with Michael, I had no idea what a New England success story his business has become.

Older than wine, older than beer--mead is the oldest fermented beverage. But Moonlight Meadery was only started two years ago--in Fairbrother's garage. The former software developer finally quit his day job as the business exploded: He now distributes more than 64 varieties of mead in 23 states and has shipped as far as Australia. And Moonlight Meadery in Londonderry, New Hampshire, is open seven days a week for tastings, tours and sales.

If you think all wines made from honey are sickeningly sweet, the short retort is: You're wrong. But don't get me wrong: We were surprised, too! Fairbrother told us his favorite potion is award-winning Desire: a complex blend of blueberries, black cherries and black currants. We were partial to Kurt's Apple Pie, a spicy cyser made with local apple cider, Madagascar-bourbon vanilla and Vietnamese cinnamon spice. We even tasted a mead called Utopian that is aged and fermented in Samuel Adams Utopias casks and tastes like a fine cognac or sherry. The fun names make these New England-made meads perfect for gift-giving. A pilgrimage to the meadery is now on my must-do list.

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