Wine Grape Selection from local providers
- itaunas Sep 16, 2008 11:54 AM
I have managed to check out most of the Everett/Chelsea area wine grape sellers since the beginning of the season. Most of the grapes offered are from larger packers in the Lodi Area and I didn't bother with packaged juice, but all of them offer it too. There are some other options that old timers have used -- sellers that show up at certain places in Saugus and other areas, folks that buy in bulk and deliver, there used to even be some options in the North End (Salem and Prince at one point, plus others). For most of the sellers, first deliveries came around 9/5 and there is another delivery due this week, but several sellers reported that the shipment was delayed in the Midwest.
Beer and Wine Hobby in Woburn offers most of the selection of M&M in Hartford, but doesn't offer storage. Their prices and selection are on their website, but need to order soon to get some of the deliveries. For non-Lodi grapes and different varietals order from them, also carrying the Italian Must (but not grapes?) that M&M is bringing in. Allow cards. Offer Chilean grapes in April timeframe. They also have a more interesting selection of yeasts and nutrients.
Silvestro Wine Grape off 2nd in Everett. They have the largest selection right now, but have sold out on a couple of things (muscato* which old timers like, grenache, pinot noir). Merlot, Cabernet, Portuguese red (spacing the varietal), Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Mission, Thompson Seedless, Valdepenas, etc. Prices a bit higher, I think they are cash only, but cards might be possibility. Thought I saw something about Italian grapes/must.
Wine Grapes in New England on Beacham: Waiting on Pinot Noir, have grenache, not quite as many grapes as Silvestro but good selection and similar prices. They may take cards. I know they make an effort to stock juices until after Thanksgiving and may do Chilean.
New England Wine Grape (same warehouse as M Cutone): More limited selection, focusing on what Italian old timers buy -- lots of barbera, muscato, some cabernet (might be running low), thompson seedless, sangiovese, not certain about merlot. Excellent prices overall. No cards, cash or check.
Dominic Gandolfo (near Paul W Marks): Just started in the past week, Barbera, Cabernet, Thompson Seedless (no chardonnay, no sangiovese). Expecting shipment on Friday with Merlot, more Cabernet and ..... Good prices, grapes looked nice, smallest selection.
* Muscato (a cross with thompson) as opposed to muscat was what I was told, although I am fuzzy which I saw stamped on crates (I sort of think both).
If anyone knows of local grapes, especially quality lower-brix chardonnay/pinot would be interested to learn more. There also is a lot of Cabernet Franc (which none of the Chelsea folks offer, but B/W hobby has) grown in the southern part of the state and RI.
I decided to omit prices as they may change and I don't have enough data points to give more than my subjective analysis above. For a range of wholesale prices, the USDA does record and post this data. My email is also in my profile if any other interested hounds have more questions.
FYI, the first (Central Valley) wine grapes are starting to arrive in the area. There have been a few changes in vendors in the area -- Silvestro/American Wine Grape has moved to Market Street (across from the Boston Market Terminal Entrance) and they got the first grapes in which are Mixed Black (some old timers use these and the packers don't generally say exactly what is included). Their new phone # is 617-884-3560. They are expecting a full shipment of different varieties toward the end of next week. A new vendor "Wholesale Wine Grapes" opened at 121 Spring where Silvestero was last year (1800 647-9700), they are expecting a shipment this Wednesday (they didn't know the list of the varieties). I missed the folks at Cutone and Gandolfo so do not know when they are expecting, Wine Grapes in NE hasn't sent out any emails. The vendors didn't have prices on grapes in shipment, but freight prices are better than last year and they expected similar prices. Local grape harvests sound like late (27-29) September for sparkling wine grapes, through October for everything else. Definately an impact from the June rains -- I saw at least one vineyards which had just pruned their vines back without harvesting, others with very small clusters, some normal.
I know that Arcos Market in Milford (Portuguese) sells some grapes they order from Chelsea. I'll try to get some additional information posted this year if time permits, but if anyone is particularly interested contact me by email with questions.
A few notes since the season is essentially over. Beer and Wine Hobby brought in Fresh Italian Grapes (eg imported) instead of the frozen must I mentioned last year, they also are carrying some additional ingredients (enzymes) and yeasts and stuff you had to mail order before (in quantities for small batches). They are done with wine, but will be bringing in fresh apple cider blends in the next couple of weeks for making hard cider, but you have to order by 10/31. Silvestero still has some grapes left (Sangiovese, Barbera, Merlot, small amt of Old Vines Zin) at a discount, it seemed like more of their premium grapes, but no juice. M Cutone has maybe a pallet of juice left, I don't think any grapes. Wine Grapes in NE definitely has a decent amount of grapes left and were bringing in Italian grapes sometime soon (I think on a pre-order basis) They try to offer juice until a bit later in the season and keep the juice in the cooler (much wine juice is pre-seeded with yeast, although your can pitch your own, but left on their own they will start fermeting in the pail). The newer Wholesale Wine grapes was also bringing in Italian grapes and should have other grapes/juice in stock but I also do not know what. I expect most will close up by this weekend, except maybe these last two.
For late season grapes definitely your mileage will vary, so you should check the grapes carefully before buying (looking for mold, raisining, insect damage), crush and sulfite them without much delay (you can also negotiate the best deals with cash). In general -- early or late season, the handling of the grapes can vary with these vendors and its important to know if the grapes are coming in/out of cold storage many times. And as I mentioned above, if you buy juice make sure its not already fermenting (you will hear it hissing). The imported Chilean and Italian grapes have sulfite blankets on top and come in breathable plastic crates, so these seem to hold up better to the shipping but you should still inspect before taking delivery.
Options for Chilean grapes/juice in the April-May timeframe are Beer & Wine Hobby, Wine Grapes in NE, and possibly "Wholesale Wine Grapes." And M&M in Hartford will UPS ground either frozen must or juices year round.
A few of the sellers usually post on craigslist, but I have yet to see an ad this year. I know that M&M in Hartford recently got a few different kinds of grapes in over the weekend. I'm hoping that some of the local sellers will have some available soon now that I've finished restoring my old wine press.
eatanddestroy do you have a crusher, because none of the local grape wholesalers offer to crush for a fee. The Portuguese distributor "Manny" who advertises on craigslist may offer it, but not certain, and I have seen some inflated rental prices on CL (in past years I would have done it for free for a CH, but no crusher here). M&M will do so and ship a container UPS to you plus they now have some stock products, or there are higher-end must products which are pre-crushed (the Italian must products from M&M at WG in NE and Beer/Wine Hobby and Brehm which you sometimes can order from M&M but they really want to sell their own products). You might to be able to save the shipping on the M&M must ordering through WG in NE while they are still receiving grapes. White grapes you can go direct to press with whole clusters, but will get no skin contact, and with a home press you are going to get a reduced juice yield.
Silvestro, M Cutone, Wine Grapes in NE, and Dominic Gandolfo should be there. I haven't been able to check out selection. There were some issues with Wholesale Wine Grapes' location last year and I haven't seen them selling ice, nor signs for advertising grapes there, so if they have reopened this year you might have to search to see where they are. I believe there are some CA grapes in, but keep in mind that some growing areas are 2 weeks or more behind this year (in Washington St its even more and a lot of growers are crossing their fingers and letting the grapes hang). If you anyone is buying grapes from M&M they will at least provide you Brix and TA (although don't count on the sampling to be scientific) and I think they are pretty good about letting you cancel an order if the grapes come in really off target. For some of the others this year it wouldn't be a bad idea getting a few grapes to sample before buying, although that can limit your selection with some sellers because they go fast. I have a seen a refractometer around Wine Grapes in N.E. so you could ask them to measure and they get some decent stuff from M&M (they did have an email list up and I haven't gotten any email since Chilean grape season, but their signs were up and they were working on some other stuff so I think they are still around).
In case eatanddestroy hasn't bought his grapes yet and in case others are thinking about it, I wanted to give you a heads-up that the season is starting to wind down in Chelsea (they started a bit late, but had a more limited selection). Tony Silvestro was expecting a couple more grape loads (likely next week), Joe and Joe at Wine Grapes in N.E. at least one more load, some things are getting a bit scare (Wine Grapes in N.E. has some Sangiovese but has been unsuccessful in bring more in). Silvestero is pretty close in price to last year but less selection, W.G. in NE seemed to be a bit higher than their prices from last year (they also bring in more expensive grapes). I didn't stop at Dominic Gandolfo, but they didn't have much out. So you can probably get grapes at least through next week and CA juice for longer although it can sell out. Silvestero can be reached at 617-884-3560 and Joe & Joe at 617-389-WINE.
BTW there are no Italian grapes this year as far as I know, but in November there will be Italian juice. Not 100% certain about M&M's frozen Italian must, but Gino Pinto isn't getting grapes in and the local resellers from M&M
I don't think there are many winemakers on the Boston board, but the grape season is coming to an end this year and I figured it was worth alerting procrastinators.
1) Silvestro/American Wine Grape on Market in Everett definitely has grapes for another week or so. They received one pallet of Barbera today which was pretty nice, have another Barbera that I liked (less developed and not in as nice condition, but nice acid), and also got some Thompson Seedless in today. I liked the two Barbera's and not much else. Probably juice for longer, but they usually close up when the grapes are gone.
2) M Cutone on Market at the corner of Beacham looked to have limited grapes, definitely a lot of Thompson Seedless and some Sangiovese. I feel they tend to do more juice than grapes and they still seemed to have a lot (its a permanent location so they might go longer with that).
3) Wine Grapes in NE on Beacham in Chelsea has a fair amount of stock and slightly higher-end grapes than the others. More CA French cultivars right now than some of the others. I tried their display grapes and wasn't happy with any, but they were clearly deteriorated (they display one case which goes in and out of the cooler and don't touch the others). They had one sangiovese in the cooler which I thought was quite nice, but very, very, limited stock left. They were trying to become a year round operation and do beer supplies, as well as offer juice through Thanksgiving in the past. They are not getting Italian grapes this year. Maybe 2 weeks for grapes and then juice after that? They carry Chilean grapes in the spring.
4) Beer/Wine Hobby in Woburn is basically out of CA grapes, although they tweeted earlier they had 8 cases of Zinfandel. They maybe getting in Italian grapes, but pre-order is required. They carry Chilean grapes too.
5) M&M should have Italian offerings and their frozen must program (crushing & container fee/UPS shipping) if anyone can't do it now. Sometimes their Washington grapes come in later, but are more limited (harvest in Eastern WA for some varieties was still going on last week). They do Chilean grapes and were experimenting with Argentine also I believe.
5) If anyone wanted to loan a stemmer/crusher this weekend, I would very seriously consider changing my plans. :-)