You need to visit the Spotted Cat Winery in Greenville
GREENVILLE — The Spotted Cat Winery is a wonderfully discoverable gem in the Greenville area; it is a small home-based farm winery specializing in natural and handcrafted wines, according to their brochure. This place is named for their cat, Aphrodite, who presides regally over her two diligent humans who grow the fruits and tend the tanks to create the varieties of small-batch wines they produce every year.
When Denise and Allen Preston were married about 15 years ago they discovered they might need to supplement their retirement income with some kind of home-based occupation. “We had been making wine for our own consumption for some time and were curious about other wineries in the state,” said Denise, who agreed to take this writer on a tour of their property. “Over the course of two summers, we went on the Maine Winery Trail, and after sampling along the way, we decided we liked our own much better than most.”
She applied for and got her license to be a vintner and almost five years ago the Spotted Cat Winery was created.
“From the beginning, everything I did got written down so I can remember just what was done before,” she explained. “Every one of our wines is in a different phase of development over the course of a year, so it’s important to keep good records. It’s rather like having a very large and demanding family!” she laughed.
At the time of this visit, Denise was busy stirring the latest batch in a large vat. The mixture of red organic plums swirling around smelled delicious. “It’s just about to fizz,” observed Denise. “It has a primary fermentation of about six days, and then I have to strain the fruit off.”
She explained that these small batches would go into 50-gallon tanks and after about 30 days, the contents would be racked off (strained) into a new tank. This process gets rid of the “lees” or sediment and dead yeast. From then on it’s racked every three months into a clean tank, getting rid of any lees each time. After about a year of this racking process, the wine is ready to be bottled.
“All the lees go into the compost,” Denise remarked. “So nothing is wasted and everything is reused. Kind of like the circle of life,” she grinned. “And, we use organic and sustainable growing practices. It only makes sense.”
Just like rotating the green wine from tank to tank, the gardens themselves are rotated every three years, keeping the soil fresh and viable. The Prestons grow many of the fruits they use in their wines, including grapes of course, and raspberries, strawberries, rhubarb, blackberries, plums and apples. Whatever they cannot grow themselves is sourced from reputable and usually organic places around the state. “In regard to the grapes, we have to fight frost here,” Denise said. “Some of the specialty vines we grow have a hardiness to 35-below zero but early and late frosts factor in as well.”
After touring the gardens, we stepped into the shop. It was a delightful area, not only featuring Spotted Cat wines, but nice wine glasses, T-shirts, hats and other souvenirs. “Son Tristan is a computer graphics designer in California and he designed our labels,” said Denise. “I do the drawings and he provides the composition for us.”
The various bottles sported names such as Kineo Noir, Kineo Blanc, Kokadjolais, and Katahdin Sunset, to name a few. One I had never seen before was a Strawberry Rhubarb wine. According to their website, it’s a wine that “is fruity and light, with outstanding aroma of strawberries as an opening sensation, and a spicy alert secondary hit. Not too dry, definitely intriguing. Try with salty snacks …and fruit and dry cheeses, perhaps sharp Cheddar or Swiss.”
Spotted Cat Winery is a place you need to see for yourself. They are located at 158 Scammon Road in Greenville and are open Friday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call ahead with any questions – (207) 695-2870 – and check out their website at spottedcatwinery.com. Don’t be surprised if Aphrodite wanders by to say hello. It is HER kingdom after all!