Start Line Brewery in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, is one of a number of fairly new craft breweries, with a group of friends hoping to turn their passion for quality beers into a sustainable and fun way to make a living. Judging from our visit, they’ll probably do just fine.
Start Line, named for the Boston Marathon’s route which begins in town, will celebrate its one-year anniversary at the beginning of November. It appears they’ve solidly established themselves with six year-round beers and other seasonal or short run beers as well. Their tasting room is small but was adequate for our time there. The layout is good as well, with views of the production facilities, outside, and the Water Fresh farm connected to it.
The beers represented a good mix, from pretty hoppy choices such as Hop Load Citra, to the deep red, caramel-flavored Craic Irish Red Ale, to the Hazelnut Cold Brewed Stout that’s a great alternative to your weekend afternoon coffee run. A flight includes four five-ounce samples for $10.
Start Line is located at Water Fresh Farm, which is a great spot in its own right. It has food ranging from vegetables grown in their hydroponic greenhouse; great snacks and candy; and fresh, hot meals. Start Line uses them as well for a limited menu. The farm also has a good wine selection with a chilling machine in case you get a bottle of white on a way to a friend’s and need it quickly cooled. The ice cream shop also means that parents can bring their kids and everyone can find something on the premises to enjoy.
We really enjoyed both the quality and the variety of the beers. Start Line’s friendly staff, picturesque setting, and mutually beneficial store and tasting room make it absolutely worth a visit. With their one-year anniversary approaching, they seem well-settled and ready to start another year of producing a great product. Not a bad outcome from some friends who started out dreaming big over some pints!
The Broken Creek Winery is a family-owned, small winery in central Massachusetts. This boutique winery is a labor of love, but it takes absolutely no work whatsoever to fall in love with the place.
The winery is nearing the end of its second year. It's currently cultivating only six of its 40 acres, but is growing steadily in terms of its vines and production capabilities. This year, it more than doubled its output to 8,000 bottles, with all facilities on-site. Impressively for a newer, smaller winery, Broken Creek’s offerings include several estate-grown wine options.
There are four reds and four whites, along with a special edition offering. Despite their doubling of capacity and their newness, Broken Creek has still had wine flying off its shelves, so not all wine was in stock when we visited. However, it had sufficient variety for a five-sample tasting that included a souvenir glass.
Two of the whites we sampled were great summer options, with a richer vignoles perfect for colder weather, similar to some chardonnays. The cabernet sauvignon is a delicious red, but much lighter than some of the incredibly bold, heavy, fruit-forward offerings common in stores these days. It still had great flavor, more akin to a robust pinot noir. Broken Creek also featured an estate-grown marquette. Interestingly, this is a hybrid grape created by the University of Minnesota about a decade ago to better survive in colder climates. It’s uniquely flavorful, can work well on its own or with, say, a Thanksgiving Dinner, and is hard to describe other than “delicious”.
This winery grew out of owner Eric Preusse’s hobby of fermenting beer, cider, and, predictably, wine. His pastime then grew to a business concept and then reality. Eric and his wife, Peggy, got this winery off the ground while still working demanding jobs in Boston. After an off-season that included expanded production and a much-needed trip to the Caribbean to recharge, the Preusses are now winding down on a second successful season. They’ve also finished work on a new tasting room and a back deck that are absolutely beautiful, along with event space. Whether you sit at one of their indoor tables playing backgammon or cribbage, enjoy the serene views from the back deck, or stroll the grounds with a glass of wine in hand, you can’t help but be extremely impressed by the wine and the whole operation that Eric and Peggy are building in this peaceful, little corner of town.
Glasses are $6-8; bottles vary, costing roughly around $20. Given their roles, the owners know their wine intimately, so can also help pair perfectly to meet your needs. They’re currently open on weekends, but event space is available during the week. When you meet truly nice people pursuing a dream and producing a great product, you can’t help but wish them all the best. Fortunately, Broken Creek is clearly well on its way to establishing itself as a fantastic boutique winery!
The Good Life...
can't exist alone. Places form the setting for your memories. People around us allow experiences to be shared, enriched, and leave us feeling connected and loved.