UNITY—The rolling vineyards and farmhouse that once was the site of Clem and Jeri Blakney’s Younity Winery have gotten new owners and a new business. Now called Stone Tree Farm & Cidery, the small-batch winery and cidery opened June 12.
Owners and life partners Brian Erickson and Frank Haferland were in touch with the Blakneys years before Blakney was killed in a tragic crash. When the property came up for sale, Erickson and Haferland were ready to buy it and revive the winery under a new name.
The name of the winery and cidery is a hybrid of the couple’s professions.
“I have my degree in foresty and Frank’s background is in geology,” said Erickson, who is the vinter/cidermaker. Haferland is the Tasting Room Manager.
The front of the house looks like a regular farmhouse. Follow the signs left of the house and take the garden path parallel to the vineyards to find the tasting room at the back of the property.
Erickson, who was born and raised in Maine, has worked in the wine industry for years.
“I fell in love with winemaking as a hobby when I was going to school in upstate New York,” he said. “My style of wine-making mimics the Reisling style of the Finger Lakes region, which is lighter, fresher, and fruit-forward.”
Certified through the Cider Institute of North America, Erickson has also added a hard cidery to the business.
“A lot of our wines are apple-based with fruit wine fermented in, so it was a natural step to create ciders in the English style,” he said.
All of the tastings are complementary and a glass of cider or wine is $6. The most popular wine on the menu is Dah Mainah, an apple-blueberry blend, made with wild Maine blueberries. “A lot of wineries do a dessert wine with blueberries, but we wanted to make one somewhere in the middle, so it’s semi-sweet,” said Erickson.
Yes Way Frozé
Unique to Maine are Stone Tree’s “wine slushies,” which are exactly what you would expect—a frozen slush machine filled with wine.
“We went to a wine festival in upstate New York and they had wine slushies,” said Erickson. “It was the most refreshing thing on a warm, summer day, so we decided to make them here.”
Churning with pink frostiness is the Frozé, an apple-grape slushie wine with a sweet and tart tone, and the frozen Arctic Cran, which Erickson describes as light, but “with that Sour Patch Kid flavor to it.”
As both Erickson and Haferland work full time, the only time the winery is open is on the weekends 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with occasional Friday if it is a holiday weekend.
This weekend they are releasing a new Fourth-of-July-themed wine called Celebration, a cranberry, blueberry, and apple wine that tastes like a Sangria.
Stone Tree is family-friendly and patrons are encouraged to hang out at the outdoor picnic tables and enjoy the view of the property or walk around the vineyards. The owners are working on a food truck option on the weekends, but encourage people to bring their own picnic or snack. They will also have corn hole and croquet sets on site as well as Cam Jam frisbee.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org