Maine’s unique terroir

Grapes can, and are, grown all across the world in latitudes much further north, and south than Lincolnville, Maine. But can they be cultivated well? Can you produce great fruit consistently with the right balance for making great wine? Despite Maine’s unique terroir, we believe the answer to those questions is, yes.

Cellardoor Winery, nestled in a valley in between Cameron and Levenseller Mountains in Lincolnville, Maine, is about four miles inland from Penobscot Bay. Our 5000 vines of North Ameican cold-hardy hybrids, planted on 10-12″ of good fertile topsoil which turns to hard-pan clay, are surrounded by a forest with an active wildlife population. Netting is essential to protect our ripening fruit from being consumed by everything from moose and deer to gophers and songbirds. Animals and humans alike make the most of the short growing season in Maine. The challenge of growing grapes in Maine is also what makes our vineyard unique, and we believe the spirit of meeting those challenges head on and overcoming them, is present in every glass poured.

At Cellardoor there’s a sign that hangs above our door that says, “Transcend Circumstances. Sense possibility.”  And that’s what we do. Not only do we want to set the bar for what quality and craftsmanship looks like from a New England vineyard and winery, but we also want every bottle to represent our absolute best, and every year we strive to beat our best.

From grape to glass

In 2008, when we started replanting the vineyard, we turned to the University of Minnesota, one of the top wine grape research programs in the United States that specialize in high-quality, cold-hardy, and disease-resistant grape varietals.

Today, we grow three varietals of U of M hybrids: Marquette, our only red and our oldest vines which are essential to our sparkling rose’ Vendange, and whites, Frontenac Blanc and Frontenac Gris. We also grow L’Acadie Blanc, another white varietal, developed in Ontario and considered the premier grape of Nova Scotia.

The vines on our 30 miles of trellis are cane trained, which is also known as Vertical Shoot Positioning (VSP).  We utilize double trunk training for vine longevity and increased options for renewal growth each season and aim to produce 3 tons of fruit per acre.

In 2012, we were able to harvest the first fruit from our vineyard, which yielded 4.5 tons of grapes and became Vendange, a sparkling rosé, and our very first Estate-grown wine. The following year, in 2013, we produced 6.85 tons of grapes and were able to produce both a sparkling rosé and a sparkling white, a Blanc de Blancs.

Our Grapes

Marquette is a cousin of Frontenac and grandson of Pinot noir first developed in 1989 by the University of Minnesota. Marquette represents a new era of cold-hardy hybrids, representing traditional vinifera in ways that prior hybrids did not. Marquette does exhibit cherry and black currant flavors and aromas typical of many hybrids but can be much more complex with integrated notes of blackberries, pepper, plum, tobacco, leather, and spice. Marquette is what gives our Vendange its distinct garnet tone.

Frontenac Gris is a grape cultivar with bronze-gray (“gris” in French) colored fruit suitable for white wine production. Frontenac gris was originally identified as a sport of Frontenac, a cultivar with black fruit that was introduced from the University of Minnesota grape breeding program in 1996. Frontenac gris wines present aromas of peach and apricot with hints of enticing citrus and tropical fruit. A brilliant balance of fruit and acidity creates lively, refreshing wines.

Frontenac Blanc is a white-fruited mutation of Frontenac and Frontenac gris that has become known as ‘Frontenac blanc’. These Frontenac blanc lines lack pigment and make white wine.

L’Acadie Blanc is a white Canadian wine grape created in 1953 by grape breeder Ollie A. Bradt in Niagara, Ontario at the Vineland Horticultural Research Station. L’Acadie Blanc is considered the premier grape of Nova Scotia.

Planting history

2008 & 2009 – The Cellardoor team re-planted five acres of the vineyard in 2008 and 2009 with cold-hardy hybrid grapes known to perform well in our region and climate: Marquette, Frontenac Gris, Frontenac Blanc, Traminette, Adalmina, LaCrescent, Seyval.

2010 – Planted Cayuga

2013 – Replaced Traminette and Adalmina with L’Acadie Blanc.

2015 – Ripped up: Seyval, LaCrescent, and Cayuga because of poor vine health. Seyval and Lacrescent were replaced with Frontenac Gris (approx 1,000 vines). Cayuga will be replaced with more L’Acadie Blanc (approx 1,000 vines) in 2017.

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