New Southampton winery readies to open in a familiar location

  • Cabernet Franc grapes growing at Glendale Ridge Vineyard in Southampton on Sunday, August 27, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Edward Hamel points out vines of Vidal blanc at Glendale Ridge Vineyard in Southampton on Sunday, August 27, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Hamels are adding an expanded seating area with a view toward the upper vineyards at Glendale Ridge Vineyard in Southampton. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Traminette grapes growing at Glendale Ridge Vineyard in Southampton on Sunday, August 27, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Hamels are adding an expanded seating area for Glendale Ridge Vineyard in Southampton. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Edward Hamel of Southampton talks about the expansion of facilities at his new winery, Glendale Ridge Vineyard, on Sunday, August 27, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Mary Hamel of Southampton talks about plans to expand the facilities at Glendale Ridge Vineyard, including a larger indoor seating area, part of which is shown here. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Cabernet Franc grapes growing at Glendale Ridge Vineyard on Sunday, August 27, 2017. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Edward Hamel of Southampton talks about the new winery he and his wife are opening, Glendale Ridge Vineyard, on their Glendale Road property on Sunday, August 27, 2017. They hope to open the expanded facility in April of 2018. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Edward Hamel of Southampton talks about the new winery he and his wife are opening, Glendale Ridge Vineyard, on their Glendale Road property on Sunday. They hope to open the expanded facility in April of 2018. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Some of the vines are now netted at Glendale Ridge Vineyard to protect them from predation pressure by birds. Edward Hamel says more will be netted before the harvest is complete. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

  • Glendale Ridge Vineyard has a view of Mount Tom, seen here, and the Holyoke Range from the Hamels' property on Glendale Road in Southampton. —GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

Published: 8/27/2017 8:50:15 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — The crickets loudly chirping on the path to the new Glendale Ridge Vineyard would normally be a bittersweet sign of the end of summer. But for vineyard owners Edward and Mary Hamel, that sound is a happy one that means harvesting is just around the corner. 

“Not only do we love this weather, but so do grapes,” Edward Hamel said, looking at hearty marquette grapes that will be ready to pick in about two weeks. 

The new winery on Glendale Road in Southampton isn’t new in the truest sense of the word. The property used to be the Black Birch Vineyard, which was owned by the Hamels and their former business partners, Ian Modestow and Michelle Kersbergen, before they all parted ways this spring. Effectively, the Hamels sold their share in that endeavor to Modestow and Kersbergen, who moved Black Birch out to a new 13-acre space out in Hatfield.

The Hamels, in turn, started from scratch on the property, where they’ve added a lot of new space for indoor seating and storage, purchased all new equipment and hired a new winemaker, Matt Jaksik. The grand opening for the full operation is expected in spring 2018.

“It’s a very large undertaking,” Mary Hamel said, standing inside the under-construction addition meant for seating. The two are hoping that investment will pay off, as old customers come back and new ones discover the scenic property overlooking Mount Tom and the Holyoke Range.

“We’re hoping the wine scene here, like the beer scene here, will attract tourist traffic,” she said, adding that they also hope to attract corporate meetings and events to their new indoor space, which was designed by Amherst architect John Kuhn.

The expansion also comes at the right time, the Hamels said. With many of the vineyard’s vines reaching peak production five years in, they expect their 5 acres to yield as many as 18 tons of grapes, which they said translates to between 9,000 and 10,000 bottles. The company purchases the other two-thirds of its grapes from around the Northeast.

“By far the most we’ve ever gotten,” Edward Hamel said, looking at the vines heavy with grapes, some almost ready to be picked and others needing more time. “I can’t imagine a better crop.”

That comes as a relief, he said, because extreme winter temperatures have damaged the plants’ buds in the previous two years. This year, however, the weather has been ideal.

Many have taken advantage of that weather to enjoy the vineyard’s outdoor seating this summer, and the Hamels have been hosting a summer music series. On Saturday night, the couple’s 45th wedding anniversary, some 120 people gathered to watch the acclaimed Boston-based band Eddie Japan, which is fronted by Northampton local David Santos.

But it’s the grand opening scheduled for April that has the Hamels both excited and, of course, nervous.

“We’re also nervous and concerned about it, because we’re making a big investment,” Mary Hamel said.

They’re confident, however, that it will pay off in a valley that appreciates its own product.

Walking past their vines, Edward Hamel stopped at just about every variety, from the Austrian red wine zwiegelt grapes that looked close to picking to the traminette hybrid grapes, which make the vineyard’s best-selling product.

“It makes a white wine that is absolutely incredible,” he said, admiring the green grapes. “And it grows pretty well here.”




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