New Hampshire is a small state in the far northeast corner of the US, bordering Maine, Vermont and Canada. The wine industry in New Hampshire is still embryonic; the oldest winery in the state was established only in 1994. The good news is that its early vintages have shown promise, and New Hampshire wines have won both national and international awards throughout the early 21st Century.
The state is roughly rectangular in shape, and covers 9,300 square miles (24,000 sq km) between latitudes 42°N and 45°N, bringing it roughly equivalent to southern France. The very southeast corner of the state touches the Atlantic Ocean, and it in this part of New Hampshire that most viticulture takes place. Here, the warmer waters of the Atlantic Gulf Stream bring a moderating influence to the vineyards, and warmer winters and cooler summers make for a more-suitable climate for grapes.
New Hampshire is known as the 'Granite State', and its rocky hills have proved suited to viticulture. Good drainage and low fertility in the soils serve to stress the vines, leading them to focus their energies on producing grapes with a high concentration of flavor compounds rather than leaves and vegetation. The slope and aspect of the hills is also important for site selection as good sunlight exposure aids ripening during the growing season, and strong winds from the ocean help to keep the canopy dry, reducing the risk of fungal diseases in the summer humidity.
Despite the warming influences afforded by the ocean, New Hampshire can still be considered cool-climate, and this is evident in the selection of grape varieties in the state. Plantings of Vitis vinifera are rare, and the New Hampshire wine industry is based on the Franco-American hybrids that have been specially bred to withstand colder temperatures; Traminette, Marechal Foch and Vidal can all be found in the vineyards here. However, the main focus of New Hampshire's wine production remains with fruit other than grapes. The climate here, and the natural leaning towards fruit-based agriculture, has led the state's winemakers to capitalize on cranberries, raspberries and particularly blueberries. Maple syrup has even been employed as a base for a dessert wine, betraying the state's north-easterly location.