Maine is best known for its breathtaking landscapes, outdoor activities galore, and of course, delicious seafood. But for you wine lovers, there are plenty of spots to enjoy a beverage at fun wine bars and wineries in Southern Maine.
The state slogan is “The way life should be.” And if you ask me, life should certainly include sipping on a glass of delicious fermented grape juice while enjoying some gorgeous scenery.
The climate in this northern state is too cold for many Vitis Vinifera grape varieties (the species used to make most wine). So, you’ll find wineries here grow hybrid grapes, source them from elsewhere in the country, or make wines from other fruit.
Maine’s wine scene has been growing over the past few decades, with the state now being home to two dozen wineries. And they even have their own Maine wine trail.
With Southern Maine being a popular vacation destination in this state, I’ve put together this list of the best wineries and wine bars you should check out on your next trip.
While you’re here, don’t miss taking my wine country destination quiz! It will magically match your taste buds, travel style, and winederlust desires to reveal the wine region of your dreams. Plus, you’ll get my wine region guide to make planning a breeze. Take the quiz.
When to Visit Maine Wineries
Summer is one of the best times to visit the state of Maine, especially if you want to enjoy the stunning beaches along its 3,500-mile coastline.
And there’s plenty to do in the surrounding area for the active traveler when you’re not wine tasting, with hiking, camping, and boating at every turn.
Plus, if you’re there during mid-June, you can check out Portland Wine Week. Enjoy wine dinners, wine seminars, and even sailing with wine. Now that’s my kind of boating!
But if you prefer the cool days of autumn or the fresh blooms of spring, you can’t go wrong with the shoulder seasons in Maine either. I mean, there are few better spots for leaf peeping than New England in the fall.
Not to be left out, winter can also be a fun time. Yes, Maine does get a bit chilly. But if you’re a skier or snowboarder, this is the time to go.
With 19 ski resorts and nearly 200 miles of trails, you can shred the slopes and then sip on some vino. Après ski, anyone?
Even better, the places I’m sharing are open year-round. Just be sure to check their hours in advance because they may be limited in the off-season.
Bettina Doulton turned from finance to fine wine making in 2007 when she purchased a winery in Lincolnville, ME.
After renovating and replanting, Cellardoor Winery produces more than 20 different wines today. Local grapes grown on their 5 acres of vineyards are hybrids (created from a Vitis Vinifera species and an American vine species).
While these vines can survive in colder climates, they tend to have very high acidity and low sugar levels. That makes these Maine-grown grapes ideal for producing traditional method sparkling wines.
Their Bulles Rosé is a standout. Made from Marquette and Frontenac Blanc grapes, the juice already has a deep pink color without any skin contact. It’s delightfully bubbly with some complexity from more than three years of lees aging.
Cellardoor also produces a Brut Nature Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine. And fortified and late-harvest dessert wines from Marquette and Frontenac Gris.
The Pinot Noir Blanc is a unique find. The red grapes are immediately pressed, leaving a bright and crisp wine with just a slight tint of color. And the Riesling was a winner, with refreshing acidity and just the right hint of sweetness.
Cellardoor’s beautiful tasting room in Portland is a great place to sample these award-winning wines. Choose from a variety of different flight options or order by the glass. For a more educational experience, book a hosted tasting to be guided through a rotating selection of wines.
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Sweetgrass Winery & Distillery
Founded in 2005, Sweetgrass uses the local fruit and grains from Maine to create a variety of different fruit wines and spirits. This family business is run by Keith and Constance Bodine, who were inspired by Maine’s unique growing seasons.
While the wine production takes place at the Sweetgrass Farm Winery in Union, ME, they have a second tasting room in Portland. In the cozy space, you can build your own flight from a menu of 15 Maine wines, ciders, sangria, vermouth, gin, and rum. They even have a whisky.
Cabernet Sauvignon wines are sometimes described as having blueberry aromas. But Sweetgrass’ Blueberry Cabernet Sauvignon actually has them in it. They source the grapes elsewhere and blend the juice with local berries.
Beyond blueberry wine, they also make apple wines and dessert wines. I particularly liked the Maple Smash, a blend of barrel-aged brandy and Maine maple syrup. It would be tasty with some vanilla ice cream (or just pour it right over the top).
If you’re into gin, don’t miss their Back River Gin. In case you’re sensing a theme, it’s made with…wait for it…Maine blueberries. And it was awarded Best All-American Gin by Forbes Magazine.
Blue Lobster Urban Winery
This urban warehouse turned wine-tasting room is in the East Bayside neighborhood of Portland. Its brilliant blue façade completes a row of two breweries and another winery.
Chris Gamble is an outdoor adventurer and wine enthusiast. He founded Blue Lobster Urban Winery after working at an award-winning winery for several years.
He wanted to create wines meant for “enjoying life in the Maine outdoors.” Packaged in cans, Blue Lobster’s wines are easy to enjoy along with a beach sunset, a campfire, a boat ride, a picnic, or a backyard BBQ.
The grapes are sourced from places like Lodi and Mendocino California. And they make a limited selection of blends and single-varietal wines in a dry style.
Grab a glass of wine or try a flight to sample multiple. When I visited, they were featuring a Chardonnay, a rosé, and a red blend from Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. My favorite was the rosé — light and crisp with aromas of strawberry and grapefruit.
Coastal Wine Bar
Stepping into this light and airy wine-bar-slash-wine-shop you’ll be transported to the West Coast. Well, not literally. But Coastal Wine was inspired by the tasting rooms of Santa Barbara in California.
Their wine list features more than 100 different bottles that you can enjoy on-site right by the coast (the East Coast, that is). Or purchase to go from their retail store.
In the spirit of “learning about different cultures through travel, food, and wine,” Coastal Wine also has a great selection of tasting flights. Choose from sparkling, rosé, white, or red to learn about and sample four hand-selected wines.
Then enjoy a glass of your favorite. Or try something different from their list of 20 different options.
Don’t miss the Domaine Lingot Martin Sparkling Gamay, an intensely colored effervescent rosé. And they have the Raventos I Blanc Corpinnat sparkling wine (read more about this producer who is shaking up the Cava D.O. in Spain).
If you’re hungry, Coastal Wine also has some tasty bites to snack on with your wine like charcuterie plates and cheeses. And keep an eye on their upcoming events to sign up for things like wine classes too!
Old Vines Wine Bar
Tucked on a side street in picturesque downtown Kennebunkport, Old Vines Wine Bar is in a 200-year-old barn. But in the warmer months, it expands to include a patio and giant outdoor tent.
The wine list features more than 20 options by the glass. And nearly 70 by the bottle (including magnums if you’re feeling extra thirsty).
Order a selection of small plates from their tapas-style menu to accompany your beverage. Each dish is cooked to order so it’s as fresh as can be.
And don’t miss Old Vines’ fun events like wine dinners, cocktail classes, and live music.
Looking for more New England wineries? Check out Cape Cod wineries and Newport, RI wineries. Or find out the best Lake Keuka wineries, Seneca Lake wineries, North Fork Long Island wineries and Dry Creek Valley wineries.
Where to Stay for Visiting Wineries in Southern Maine
The southern coast of Maine is littered with quaint resort towns just ripe for a beachside getaway. But if you want to be within walking distance of wine tasting, Portland’s where it’s at.
Plus, with the most breweries per capita in the United States and having been named Restaurant City of The Year by Bon Appétit, there are plenty of spots for imbibing and dining.
The charming nautical-themed Portland Harbor Hotel is smack dab in the middle of the action. You can step out the front door and be just steps from the cobblestoned streets of Old Port.
And the kitchens on each floor are stocked with fresh fruit, pastries, snacks, coffee, and tea for your morning (or late night) snacking.
You can find the Portland Harbor Hotel and many other great options on Booking.com. Just enter “Portland, Maine” and select your dates below to see available options.Booking.com
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Have you visited any of these Maine wineries?