Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Magnetic Hill Winery

Another of my favourite places

 Just a short drive from the mid–twentieth century concrete block architecture of much of Moncton you can find beautiful examples of unspoilt country side. Undisturbed acres of nothing but trees, grass, shrubs and fruit bushes restore your soul to believe in the ultimate basic goodness of the earth.

There is a place where you can let the pure taste of strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, even, and especially, rhubarb, distilled into a glass of amber liquid, linger on your tongue.

That place is Magnetic Hill Winery. Located in a restored historic property, built in 1867, it is one of New Brunswick’s major award-winning wineries. The enterprising and visionary entrepreneurs, Jeff and Janet Everett were once the frustrated owners of a fruit farm. In the late 1990’s the New Brunswick government opened to door to farm-based cottage wineries and the Everett’s found their way to stay in agriculture, and to develop a unique combination of practicality and hospitality.

With the latest 21st century technology installed in the historic property the Everetts make delicious wines, just as pioneers traditionally did, from local fruit. They raised the house two feet, extended the porch to wrap around, moved the attached barn and dug out beneath to create the wine cellar and shop. The family now produces all wines on site. Fermenting, filtering and bottling the wines using their own hand-picked fruit.

There’s Bay of Fundy Blue, yes made with blueberries. Gold medal  Illusions, named for Magnetic Hill’s famous optical illusion, owes it’s crisp dry bodied taste to rhubarb. Evangeline resonates with strawberries and silver medal Mystique is full of healthy cranberries. The Everetts remind you that fruit wines contain antioxidants and  more vitamins and minerals than grape wine. Chocolate River dessert selection includes raspberry, strawberry and blueberry wines, all go well with chocolate.

Opened in 2005 Magnetic Hill Winery is a true family enterprise. Son Zach, winemaker, is proud of his 3,000 litre vats. The various fruit wines take six to 18 months to mature and all celebrate the area’s natural attractions.

Once the winery was established this energetic couple set about a Bed and Breakfast in the old former house. Much of the house was gutted but the essence of the 140-year-old residence was preserved and many parts used. Janet excitedly points out hand-made square head nails from the house, now used in the wine shop to hang the sun catchers. Lathes from interior walls are re-cycled to make attractive gift boxes. The distinctive mustard yellow exterior that catches your eye on arrival is a heritage colour, also found in the house’s kitchen.  She says the interior’s good state of preservation was largely due to the covering of birch bark on much of the house.

In the winery’s retail store you can enjoy tastings of these exceptional wines and find an array of wine-related gift items.

Visitors can choose the Oak Room or the Pine Room, both reminiscent of bygone days, each now with its en-suite bathroom, and enjoy a home-made country breakfast on the patio on sunny mornings. A private living room provides space to relax and read.

Sunny afternoons you can enjoy a glass of wine and a selection of cheese on the patio with its stunning panoramic views.

Other articles about more of My Favourite Places can be found at knowmoncton.com/favorite-places/

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