Plymouth: Satisfying, but a strain by train

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On Saturday, Nancy Reardon, 25, moved from San Francisco to Boston.

On Monday, she was attending a class on organic and biodynamic wines at the Boston Wine School.

“I lived in San Francisco for two years, right by wine country,” she said, “so I spent a lot of time learning about wine, saturating myself with wine. Now that I’m here, I’m interested in seeing what the wine environment in Boston is like. I actually didn’t think there was one!”

Reardon was pleasantly surprised.

The French company Vinexpo recently conducted a study about the “values, behavior and expectations of young customers (like Reardon) with regard to wine.” One of the yes-no questions in their study asked Columbia Business School students  if they “would like to know more about wine.” The results were overwhelming:  161 chose yes and only 1 chose no. Additionally, 82 percent of respondents said they see themselves increasing their consumption of wine in the future.

And while Columbia Business School students don’t represent an entire generation, they do highlight a growing infatuation with wine among twentysomethings. And these quarter-lifers aren’t settling for just sipping any old wine. They want to drink up the wine culture and knowledge.

Luckily, weekly classes are offered at places like the Boston Wine School on Commonwealth Avenue, wine shops like Bauer Wine and Spirits on Newbury Street regularly host free wine tastings and media outlets like the “The Second Glass” provide an in-depth look at the wine culture around the city.

But what about when twentysomethings like Reardon want to venture outside Boston? Does culture fade away as the commuter rail leaves the skyscrapers and enters suburbia?

Linday Shumway, owner and winemaker of the Plymouth Winery, admits that her winery is certainly small and suburban. Set in a marketplace across from the ocean in the South Shore town of Plymouth, it’s a one-woman shop that blends in with its picturesque surroundings. But appearances can be deceiving.

“I make 15 wines, including grape and fruit wines,” said Shumway. Her raspberry wine won the gold medal at the Big E state fair in Springfield, Mass. this year. Doesn’t get much more suburban than that.

And yet, the small town charm seems to be working for Shumway’s winery.

Shumway has been running the winery for three years. She bought the place when the former owners decided to retire. Since then, she’s been putting her own flair on the place. “Our most popular wine is Bogart’s Blend, a white table wine that’s part chardonnay and part sauvignon blanc,” says Shumway.  Bogart, in case you’re wondering, was Shumway’s shop dog who recently passed away.

 “I like to experiment with different flavors,” she explained, “and I approach the experience like a graduate student might. By reading a lot.”

She takes time from her reading to hold free wine tastings all day, everyday. Visitors, locals and bus tours can wander in at any time and take a sip. Twentysomethings looking for a historical trip with a twist may consider traveling to Plymouth. Visit Plymouth Rock, take a sip of wine. Visit the Mayflower, take a sip of wine.

And while the hour-long rail trip (not to mention the walk from the station to downtown) to Plymouth may not be worthwhile for all quarter-lifers, they can at least be satisfied in knowing that the wine culture in Boston is strong, stable and even growing.

Looking to familiarize yourself with the Boston wine scene? Here are a few key elements:

- Jonathon Alsop, founder of the Boston Wine School. , likes to remind people to relax when it comes to wine. “It’s ok to have fun with wine! It’s not a stick-up-the-ass experience.”

-  Ken Hoggins, founder of the websites Kens Wine Guide and Boston Wine Buzz, said that hosting a party is a great way to learn about wine. “You become knowledgeable [about wine] by reading and you become experienced by trying,” he said. So host a party. Have each person buy one bottle of wine (aim for three reds and three whites) and cover each bottle with aluminum foil. Taste, rate and decide what you like about each. Hint: taste the whites first.

- Tyler Balliet, founder and editor of “The Second Glass,”  suggests finding a good wine store and talking to the employees. He said a good wine store should be able to recognize you and your taste.

 

Plymouth and its history

Plymouth has enough history to merit a trip, but it’s not as accessible as Salem or Concord. The commuter rail takes visitors down to a station called Plymouth, but the attractions are far away, nearly the equivalent of walking from Fenway Park to Logan Airport.

In other words, you can do it… but do you really want to?

Besides using the taxi (check out the sidebar for more), you could also bring a bike, and make exploring Plymouth not just as a day trip, but an exercise as well.

What’s there to do in Plymouth? Well, there’s the Plymouth Rock, a legendary piece of granodiorite that commemorates where Mayflower pilgrims set foot on these shores. Except, of course, there’s no mention of a rock in the original annals, and the concept of a rock didn’t really come about until over a century later. But it’s there, and it’s ingrained in our national consciousness.

There’s also the Monument to our Forefathers, and the Mayflower II – a replica of the original Mayflower.

“It is just so exciting to be surrounded by so much history,” said Lee Regan, who works in Plymouth Library’s historical collection department. “People come here to see the rock and the Mayflower, but they don’t notice the rest of the town. It is just so beautiful.

“I can’t imagine being anywhere else.”

City:
Plymouth

Name of Place:
Plymouth Winery

Location:
170 Water St., Plymouth, Mass. (click for directions)

Hours:
Typically 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., but varies according to season so call ahead and let Linda know you’ll be visiting.

Admission:
Free

Commuter Rail Stop:
Plymouth, Kingston/Plymouth Line

Departs From:
South Station

Zone:
8

Fare:
$7.75 

Plymouth Population:
51,701

Year Founded:
1620

Tidbit:
Plymouth is a twin
city to Plymouth, Devon, England. Plymouth (England) is where the Pilgrims departed in 1620 before arriving at America.


Links

Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Winery List

Destination Plymouth

Kiskadee Coffee

Plymouth Rock

Pilgrim Society

Plymouth Transportation Services