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December 28. 2013 1:00AM

The NH wine industry has a 'spectacular' night planned


Michael Fairbrother, founder of Londonderry's Moonlight Meadery, shows off some of the company's various honey wines. Fairbrother will participate in the annual Easter Seals Winter Wine Spectacular on Jan. 30. (UNION LEADER FILE)

MANCHESTER - Wine lovers attending the annual Easter Seals Winter Wine Spectacular in January not only will enjoy choosing from nearly 1,800 wines to taste but will also provide a boost to wineries both far and near.

Michael Fairbrother, founder of the Moonlight Meadery in Londonderry, said the event allowed him to grow his business.

"The interactive part of the wine spectacular has been great exposure to our customers and letting people see the diversity of what's being offered in the state of New Hampshire," Fairbrother said Friday.

Appearing at the wine spectacular at the Radisson for the past few years has "given us the credibility" in the industry, he said, and helped earn an invite to the Boston Wine Expo.

The Londonderry winery this year will sell 9,000 cases of its wine made from honey - not grapes - and expects to sell more than 20,000 cases next year. Fairbrother said his wines, now sold in 23 states, will hit store shelves in nearly every state in 2014.

This year's event runs from 6 to 9 p.m. on Jan. 30 with tickets priced at $65. Tickets to taste more exclusive wines in the Bellman Cellar Select VIP tasting room run $125. The wineries and wine brokers donate the wines.

The event "puts New Hampshire on the map as far as the wine world goes," said Nicole Brassard Jordan, wine marketing specialist at the New Hampshire Liquor Commission.

Four wine makers from Italy are flying in as well as Michael Mondavi, wine maker and co-founder of the Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa Valley, Calif. About a half-dozen Granite State wineries also will be there.Wine sales make up about 45 percent of the overall sales at state liquor stores. In the year ending June 30, the state sold more than $272 million worth of wine, a 7.3 percent increase from the previous year.

Over the past decade, the fundraiser has brought in about $1.2 million for Easter Seals.

Christine Pederson, director of events and corporate relations with Easter Seals New Hampshire, said proceeds from the wine spectacular support its early intervention program.

About 1,500 people attend the event, and for the first time this year, will be able to order bottles right from their smartphone.

"It does translate into sales for us, which is great," Brassard Jordan said. "Consumers actually love the whole way of enjoying the tasting. The reality is the personalities (from various wineries) love that, too. They get to see something for their time being here."

People ordering a dozen or more bottles receive a 20 percent discount, while those ordering six to 11 bottles receive a 15 percent price break.

"They can order anything that's at the tasting that night," she said. "There are some items that will be just coming out in small production."

The wine spectacular is part of the liquor commission's wine week, which runs from Jan. 27 to Feb. 2. Several wine makers will be attending celebrity wine dinners at various restaurants, including the Puritan Backroom Event & Conference Center in Manchester and the Portsmouth Harbor Events and Conference Center on the Seacoast.

Select liquor and wine outlets also will host celebrity bottle signings.

This year's wine spectacular is moving from the Radisson expo to the hotel's ballrooms and armory. People also can sample food from area restaurants.

mcousineau@unionleader.com


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