Wine Tasting in the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts

Updated on December 11, 2017
bdegiulio profile image

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures, experiences, and makes the world a better, more tolerant place.

Mineral Hills Winery
Mineral Hills Winery | Source

If you find yourself in the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts and you’re looking for something a little different to do why not consider a day of winery hopping? While the Pioneer Valley will never be confused with Napa Valley, the climate here is temperate enough to grow grapes and a few pioneering souls have converted their hobby turned passion into a growing number of quaint wineries. As we live in the general area and were looking for something different to do on a sultry summer day we headed out for a memorable afternoon of discovery and wine tasting.

As the designated driver for the day my tasting experience was limited, but I did manage to sample a few of the local varieties that I thought would please my rather sweet taste buds. For those of you not familiar with this area of western Massachusetts it's located approximately ninety minutes west of Boston and just fifteen minutes north of Springfield. The Connecticut River runs through the Valley, which was formed by retreating glaciers during the last Ice Age. It's a beautiful part of the state with rolling hills covered with a carpet of green forest. The wineries here are small by any standard but that is part of the charm and their relative close proximity to one another makes it possible to visit a number of them in one day. Before heading out be sure to check their websites as some of the wineries are only open on weekends and for limited hours.

Did you know that grapes are the largest fruit crop grown on earth?

Mineral Hills Winery
Mineral Hills Winery | Source
Mineral Hills Winery
Mineral Hills Winery | Source

The best wines are the ones we drink with friends and family

— Anonymous
Mineral Hills Winery
Black Birch Vineyard
592 Sylvester Road
155 Glenyard Road
Florence, MA 01062
Southampton, MA 01073
413-586-2585
413-527-0164
mineralhillswinery.com
blackbirchvineyard.com
Amherst Farm Winery
Raven Hollow Winery
529 Belchertown Road
436 Russellville Road
Amherst, MA 01002
Westfield, MA m01085
413-253-1400
413-562-0259
amherstfarmwinery.com
ravenhollowwinery.com
Mount Warner Vineyards
Pioneer Valley Farm and Vineyard
85 Mount Warner Road
41 School Street
Hadley, MA 01035
Hadley, MA 01038
413-531-4046
413-247-3007
mwvineyards.com
pioneervalleyvineyard.com
Green River Ambrosia
324 Wells Street
Greenfield, MA 01301
413-774-5350
greenriverambrosia.com
Source

For our day we managed to visit three of the local wineries: Mineral Hills, Black Birch, and Amherst Farm in that order. Each offered a wine tasting that consisted of our choice of five or six of their wines. The selections covered a wide variety of wines from my personal favorite sweet white wine, to a sampling of red and rose blends. Each of the wineries that we visited had a unique and interesting story as to how they started and in every case it was a personal passion that led to a business opportunity.

Source

Did you know that it takes approximately 500 to 750 grapes to make one bottle of wine?

The highlight of our day was getting to meet Larry and Susan Goddard of the Mineral Hills Winery. I should point out the winery is located on the Goddard’s Red Hen Farm, which they have been cultivating since 1984. Larry gave us a personal tour of the grounds and shared his story with us. After retiring in 2010 Larry and Susan pursued their true love and turned a portion of their property into a vineyard to compliment the existing fruit orchard. They have since added a beautiful, new pavilion for outdoor entertaining and picnicking. Their passion for what they do is ever present while talking with the couple and they are eager to discuss their wines and share their expertise. It was fascinating to hear Larry educate us on the different types of oak barrels used in the wine making process and to hear how his grandparents forged his interest in wine making from an early age. The Mineral Hills wine list consists of about 18 varieties with a few new ones in the works for the future. I was particularly fond of their Cayuga and May sweet white wines and when we left it was with a bottle of the May Riesling White Wine to go along with a Le Tre Sorelle, a fruity dry red wine.

Mineral Hills Winery
Mineral Hills Winery | Source

In addition to the vineyard and winery, Mineral Hills will host a summer and fall schedule of events ranging from musical performances under the pavilion to fundraisers for local charities. All three of the wineries we visited can be found at any of the local area summer fairs and look for all of them at the annual Big E Fair, New England's Great State Fair, every September.

Black Birch Winery
Black Birch Winery | Source

As Mineral Hills was our first stop of the day they set the bar very high and I personally found their winery difficult to top. The Black Birch Winery was our second stop of the day and this winery boasts an incredible view from their grounds, which also hosts local entertainment as part of their summer music series. Black Birch offers about a dozen hand crafted wines and the Adirondack chairs fronting their vineyard are a nice touch to sit and admire the view while enjoying a local wine.

From the Black Birch Winery we headed toward Amherst for our third and final wine tasting of the day. If you are looking for a place to stop for lunch either Northampton or Amherst are wonderful communities to park and check out the local eateries. There are a number of great cafés and restaurants in the area and you will have numerous options available to you depending on what you desire.

Black Birch Winery
Black Birch Winery | Source
Black Birch Winery
Black Birch Winery | Source

Our last stop was the hard to miss big red barn on route 9 that houses the Amherst Farm Winery. The 19th century barn has been a staple in this area for decades and was at one time a local restaurant (the Rusty Scupper). The renovated interior of the barn provides the perfect venue for wine tasting and the patio out back gives you a nice view of some of the vineyards and the local goats that make their home here. If you are looking for a fruity wine check out their numerous selections including Raspberry, Peach, Cranberry, Pear, Apple, Blueberry and Pumpkin wine.

In addition to the tasting room Amherst Farm offers a large sitting room with a fireplace to enjoy your local wine. With a large interior space the Amherst Winery can accommodate private functions and will be happy to assist you with your event including birthday parties, baby showers, engagement parties, and bridal showers. Located in the heart of the Five College region of western Massachusetts the winery is a popular stop for parents looking for something interesting to do when traveling to the area.

Amherst Farm Winery
Amherst Farm Winery | Source
Source
Amherst Farm Winery
Amherst Farm Winery | Source

We hope to be able to visit the other wineries in area in the near future and I feel certain that they will provide a similar experience. On your next trip to the Pioneer Valley of western Massachusetts be sure to put aside a day to explore and discover these wonderful vineyards and wineries. They may be a little off the beaten path, but that is certainly part of their charm and the whole experience.

Cheers!   Amherst Farm Winery
Cheers! Amherst Farm Winery | Source
show route and directions
A markerMineral Hills Winery, Florence, MA -
Mineral Hills Conservation Area, Sylvester Rd, Florence, MA 01062, USA
get directions

B markerBlack Birch Vineyard, Southampton, MA -
Southampton, MA, USA
get directions

C markerAmherst Farm Winery, Amherst, MA -
Amherst, MA, USA
get directions

A markerPioneer Valley, Massachusetts -
Pioneer Valley, MA, USA
get directions

Questions & Answers

    © 2016 Bill De Giulio

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      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        22 months ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you Roselin. Glad you enjoyed the hub and thanks for stopping by. Have a great day.

      • roselinsojan profile image

        roselinsojan 

        22 months ago from India,Kerala.

        Nice article ,informative,interesting&well presented.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        23 months ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you teaches12345. We had a very enjoyable day. This area has a surprising number of wineries. Nearby CT has an even greater number, which we will explore in the near future. Thanks for stopping by, have a great weekend.

      • profile image

        teaches12345 

        23 months ago

        I never thought of Massachusetts being an area for wineries. It looks like you enjoyed yourself and had a great time touring the places.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        23 months ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you Linda. It really was a fun day, very interesting to hear the stories on how these places got their start. I'm sure there must be a number of similar wineries and vineyards in your area.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        23 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        This is an interesting article, Bill. You've got me thinking about what the wineries in my area offer to visitors. Winery hopping sounds like fun!

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        23 months ago from Massachusetts

        Hi Bill. Thank you. We have made a concerted effort lately to get out and explore our backyard and it's amazing the places and things there are to do close by. I'm not a big wine drinker but it sure was fun exploring the backroads of western Massachusetts to find these places.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        23 months ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you Flourish, have a great day.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        23 months ago from USA

        Hi, Bill - Back as promised to pin and G+.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        23 months ago from Olympia, WA

        There you are, doing what you do best, writing travel articles with style. Nice job, Bill. My days of wine tasting are over, but it was enjoyable reading a quality article.

      • bdegiulio profile imageAUTHOR

        Bill De Giulio 

        23 months ago from Massachusetts

        Thank you Flourish. We had been wanting for years to spend a day doing this. There are a number of local wineries out in the Berkshires as well as in the Pioneer Valley so we will definitely plan on doing this again soon.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        23 months ago from USA

        I'm sure this is a very popular option for travelers as well as local wine aficionados. Well presented. Will pin and G+ when I am back on my PC.

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