Friday, September 20, 2013

LaBelle WInery and America's Stonhenge

It was one of those days that was just too beautiful to stay inside, so we decided to head out and explore!  Our first stop was LaBelle Winery in Amherst.  At the tasting room, café, and shop, we were greeted and introduced to the winery and our options for tours and tasting.  Instead of a tour, we opted for a wine tasting and light lunch.  For the tasting ($8 for 5 selections or $13 for 10). we received a card with descriptions of all the wines available and places to check-off our choices.  The options included whites, reds, and fruit wines, including dry, sweet, dessert and cooking wines.  Since Rob is not much of a red wine drinker, we tried mostly whites… selecting a few ourselves, and asking our server for suggestions on others.

Our selections included:
Dry Apple – described as being a good choice for Pinot Grigio drinkers, made from all NH-grown apples... it was very light tasting
Dry Riesling – made in the Alsatian style… it was good, but not exciting
Corazon – a blend of Seyval Blanc and Red Raspberry wine, described by our server as a rose, but not too sweet… this one was definitely on the sweeter side, but would be a nice picnic wine
Granite State Red – a red grape wine aged in oak with a touch of blueberry… pretty good
Dulce – a spiced dessert wine enhanced with maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla… think Christmas!

With lunch, we also decided to try the Seyval and a second wine described as a Dry Seyval.  The Seyval was good, but a little on the sweet side, however the Dry Seyval, labeled as Winemaker’s Reserve Seyval Blanc and described as being bottled and aged two years, was excellent (and the variety we decided to buy a bottle of to bring home).  The café itself is very casual with tables available inside the tasting room and outside on the terrace and a menu that included soups, salads, small plates, cheese slates, and sandwiches.  Since it was such a beautiful day, we opted for the terrace and picked a small cheese plate for our lunch – a combination of cheeses, crackers, dried fruits, and nuts.  Tasty, and just right.  (Note: LaBelle Winery is located on the main route between Peterborough and the Manchester Airport - about 40 minutes from the B&B, 20 minutes from the airport.  It would make for a nice, casual place to relax is you find yourself with extra time in your travels.)

Rock formations at America's Stonehenge

Our next stop was America’s Stonehenge in Salem. (Not to be confused with our own "Stonehenge" just up the road in Peterborough - photo at end of blog... just for fun.)  We really didn’t know much about the location in Salem, so we thought we’d check it out for ourselves.  The drive from the winery took only about 35 minutes, but we were a little surprised to find the site tucked in an unremarkable, wooded, residential neighborhood.  Neither one of us has been to Stonehenge in England, but the name sets up expectations of a large ring of enormous stones.  America’s Stonehenge is NOT that, but it does have archaeological significance dating back over 4000 years.  The site is mostly a series of man-made chambers and ceremonial sites… more underground than above.  (The site’s original name was Mystery Hill Caves.)  What the Salem site does have in common with its English namesake are stones with significant astronomical alignment… corresponding to sunrises and sunsets on various solstice, equinox, and other dates.  All-in-all, the Visitors’ Center, informational video, and tour markers are a little dated, and at $11 per person the attraction was a little pricey, but it was interesting and we were glad we went.

Astronomical Chart

Looking out in the direction of the Summer Solstice and August 1 sunsets

And finally, since we just can't pass up ice cream, we were happy to make a stop at Moo’s Place in North Salem.  Although I had never heard of it, Rob had just seen a list of the Top 25 ice cream places in NH and Moo’s Place was #11, simply reinforcing our need to stop.  To our delight, they make their own ice cream (not at this location, but at their other shop in Derry) and had some interesting flavors.  I had to try the Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge and Rob got…ummmm… something else.  The ice cream was creamy and delicious!  A sweet end to a great day!

Moo :P
Teixeira Park - Peterborough's "Stonehenge" :)

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