Words and Photography By Jordana Starr
When most people picture a glass of wine, they usually think of a red or white variety made from grapes. But for husband-wife team Paul and Leslie Cameron, making wine is a whole lot more than fermenting crushed vine fruit. The wines they produce at Cameron’s Winery in Northfield are made from a diverse range of fruits and other ingredients, many of which are sourced from local farms. The wines themselves are sweet, often balanced with a mild tartness.
Paul and Leslie began making fruit wine in New Hampshire in 2014, but quickly outgrew their space and moved to their current home in Franklin County in November of last year. The new space allows them to process more fruit; for example, this year they added a crusher/destemmer. It makes processing many fruits much quicker and less tedious. Sunlight streaming into their production room illuminates a rainbow of glass demijohns filled with a variety of fermented fruit juices. Guests are invited to relax in their beautiful beechwood tasting room while enjoying samples of the wines available that day.
As much as possible, the Camerons try to source their ingredients from local producers. The apples that form the base for many of their wines, come from Pine Hill Orchard in Colrain, while they source a special local grape varietal, Frontenac, from Belchertown. Even the wild blueberries growing in their Bernardston backyard find their way into their wines!
No ingredient is off limits: When a friend’s garden yielded an abundance of cucumbers, Paul tried making them into a wine. Though he at first considered it a bit of a joke, the wine turned out to be so popular that his friend now grows three bushels of cucumbers for him every summer!
When asked how much wine they produce per batch, Leslie notes, “The largest we can make is a LOT!” Depending on how much fruit they have available to them, the Camerons may make anywhere from three to 500 gallons of wine per batch. They’re still not making anywhere near enough to keep up with demand, though one day they hope to amp up production enough to distribute to other regions.
In all, the Camerons have over 129 labels approved for their wines, though many have not yet been released. They’re also gearing up to begin making hard cider, their next big project. When he isn’t making fruit wines, Paul keeps busy with his original passion: home-brewing beer.
Around Thanksgiving, the Camerons release their award-winning maple wine, which took home the bronze last year at the Gold Medal Wine Competition held at the Eastern States Exposition. This year’s release is made from a blend of Cortland, McIntosh, and Russet apples, with Grade B maple syrup from their neighbors at Severance Maple Products. But don’t ask how they manage to get their wine to exhibit a delightful balance of sweet maple and tart apple—it’s a trade secret!