On The Job – Annika Cozad


Annika Cozad is an American Board of Opticianry-certified optician and owner of Eyefix Family Optical in Concord.

Explain your job and what it entails.

I help my patients choose the perfect pair of eyewear. This means I need to be able to interpret their prescription and build a relationship with them to make sure their visual needs are met and they love what they wear. I also perform all preliminary testing needed to get patients ready for their exam with the optometrists. Of course, being a business owner means I get to do fun stuff like choosing frame inventory and less fun stuff like bookkeeping.

How long have you had this job?

I have been an optician for over 30 years, but my own shop, Eyefix, opened its doors in October of 2022.

What led you to this career field and your current job?

I decided to start the apprenticeship program in Germany after I finished their equivalent of high school and knew immediately that this was the perfect career for me.

What kind of education or training did you need?

I was lucky to start my career in Germany, where I attended a three-year program to become certified.

What is your typical at-work uniform or attire?

In my own shop, it’s business casual.

What is the most challenging thing about your work, and how do you deal with it?

A big issue these days is educating people about buying from online retailers and the potential consequences. … Most brick-and-mortar places cannot match the price of the Eyebuydirects and Warby’s, so it’s very important to me to inform my patients about the quality of the materials they are receiving. By showing my knowledge and passion for my profession, my patients can tell that they get better service and peace of mind when they buy from me.

What do you wish you’d known at the beginning of your career?

I will definitely not retire being a millionaire.

What do you wish other people knew about your job?

No. 1: Sometimes it takes a little while to adjust to a new prescription; give it a few days. No. 2: Not all frames are made by Luxottica, contrary to the 60 Minutes special in 2013 that is still haunting the industry. No. 3: I can adjust your glasses better than you can.

What was the first job you ever had?

I worked at a little fast food place called HellBurger, and it was hell. I am not cut out for the food industry.

What’s the best piece of work-related advice you’ve ever received?

One of my previous managers … told me to treat every patient like they are special. Fit them like you’d want your family member to be fitted.

Five favorites

Favorite book:
The Good Fairies of New York
Favorite movie: Back to the Future
Favorite music: I listen to anything, but these days mostly to The Black Crowes station on Pandora.
Favorite food: German comfort food
Favorite thing about NH: It’s green and just rural enough.

Featured photo: Annika Cozad. Courtesy photo.

Kiddie Pool 23/06/01

Family fun for the weekend

Maker Fest

• More than 30 local makers will bring their tie-dyed fashions, worm bins, Star Wars costumes, trebuchets and more to the New Hampshire Makers Festival presented by the New Hampshire Children’s Museum (6 Washington St. in Dover; childrens-museum.org) on Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The festival will take place inside and outside the museum; admission is a suggested donation of $5 (you can donate onsite or via the website in advance). The line up of makers, displays and activities at this family-friendly event include a Rube Goldberg machine expert, a children’s business fair, a kid-friendly exhibit to explore by the Woodman Museum, a STEM van by the Girl Scouts of the White Mountains, kid conservationist Jack Dalton, a former American Idol contestant and more, according to a press release.

Fun in the sun

• Give field research a shot with the Harris Center for Conservation Education (83 Kings Highway, Hancock) and its program Kids Count for Wildlife: Red-backed salamander survey on Friday, June 2, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Kids ages 9 to 18 will get a chance to do some searching in the woods for the woodland species. Kids younger than 12 must be accompanied by a guardian. Registration is required and can be completed at harriscenter.org.

• Head to West Running Brook Middle School (1 W. Running Brook Lane, Derry) for touch a truck on Saturday, June 3, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Derry police department will have emergency response vehicles, heavy machinery and other equipment for kids to climb and explore. There will also be a BMX stunt show, free helmet giveaway, food, music and dancing. Visit derrynh.org/police-department for more information.

• Cuddle up to some farm animals at farm baby snuggles at Under-N-Acre Farm (24 Canaan Road, Strafford) on Saturday, June 3, and Sunday, June 4. Each day has two time slots, June 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. and June 4 from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Sessions start at $7 and can be purchased at tinyurl.com/farmbabysnuggles.

Indoor activities

• Visit Pumpkin Blossom Farm (393 Pumpkin Hill Road, Warner) for a special after-school sensory class on Wednesday, June 7, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Kids between the ages of 5 and 11 will make lavender-scented bubbles after learning a little bit about lavender and the five senses and after they explore the farm. Kids must be accompanied by an adult. The class costs $15 and spaces can be reserved at pumpkinblossomfarm.com.

• Let’s Make Music & Make Art (136 Lowell Road, Hudson) is having an open house on Wednesday, June 7, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Kids and families can learn more about music and get started with how to play an instrument. Registration is required and can be done at letsplaymusic.com.

Museum madness

• The American Independence Museum (1 Governors Lane, Exeter) is offering active military and their families free admission until Sept. 4. Admission to the museum includes access to more than 3,000 artifacts and guided or self-guided tours throughout the building. For more information, visit independencemuseum.org.

• The Little Learners series is starting at the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center (2 Institute Drive, Concord) on Friday, June 2, from 12:30 to 1 p.m. The month of June will be devoted to teaching kids ages 4 and younger about comets. The program runs the first and third Friday of the month, as well as the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. June will have an additional day on Friday, June 3. Participation is included with general admission. General admission costs $12 for adults, $9 for children ages 3 to 12, and free for children younger than 3 years old. Visit starhop.com.

Writers network

NH Writers’ Project conference connects authors

Publishing the great American novel, or a memoir, or a biography, or any other written text, is a monumental challenge. The New Hampshire Writers’ Project is looking to help aspiring authors with that endeavor.

NHWP is now in its third decade of hosting the 603 Writers’ Conference, which has helped get local authors information and connections through a number of events and classes. The event takes place at Southern New Hampshire University, a partner of NHWP.

The highlight of the day is a pitch party, a competition where authors have to give a one-sentence pitch of their story, and judges determine whether it’s an accurate representation in comparison to the longer description of the book.

“The first winner in 2019 won and her pitch for her book, The East Indian, went on because she said she was able to revise her query letter and went on to not only secure a top literary agency but now has a two-book deal with Scribner, and the book is being published in the States as well as in the United Kingdom,” said Masheri Chappelle, the project’s chairwoman. “This is just a glorious example of what the conference will be doing to help people.”

This year, Chappelle said, the conference will have 10 classes for attendees to choose from. The classes will range from creative writing to building high-quality author websites. The classes are kept small, to maintain the ability for one-on-one interaction with the teachers.

Before the classes start, Mark Dagostino will give the keynote speech. Dagostino is known for assisting in many celebrity biographies, including his New York Times bestseller The Magnolia Story with Chip and Joanna Gaines. Chappelle said he will be discussing memoirs and biography writing.

In addition to Dagostino’s keynote talk, there will be a panel discussion at the luncheon about what to do when an author’s book is chosen to be adapted for television or movies.

“It will be exciting to hear what it takes to have your book go from the library to the screen,” Chappelle said. “On the panel we’ll have authors and entertainment attorneys discussing the process of pitching, [and] finding a literary agent and entertainment attorney.”

Chapelle said hosting an event like this is only part of what makes the New Hampshire Writers’ Project important. She wants to give these authors a shot at publication, but she also wants the literary world to take note of everything happening in the New Hampshire arts scene.

“We have a lot of talent that is not recognized that needs it,” Chappelle said. “I would like [New Hampshire] to become a writers’ colony. Our topography is stunning. We have the mountains, the lakes, beautiful trails, and great cities with a lot of cultural development.”

603 Writers’ Conference
Where: SHNU Banquet Dining Facility, 2500 N. River Road, Manchester
When: Saturday, June 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Price: $125 for SNHU teachers and students, $165 for members, $185 for nonmembers
Visit: nhwritersproject.org

Treasure Hunt 23/06/01

Dear Donna,

Is my mom’s mother’s recipe book of any interest or value to anyone? I have all the recipes I need and hate to toss it. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks for your time. Enjoy reading your responses in the Hippo.


Dear Shannon,

I’m laughing because my first response is they should be priceless! Some of the most important things to people make it through time. I’m thinking how well-used this booklet was from the 1930s to the present.

I remember when I was growing up recipes within the family were secreted. Barely ever given out. When holidays came you couldn’t wait for that one yummy item to come!

The value on it, Shannon, is around $40-ish. To keep it in the family, though, and keep passing it is priceless!

Thanks for sharing with us and for reading.

A few tips for growing great flowers

Make a plan before you go shopping

I’m a sucker for a good-looking flower. Back when I was first developing my flower beds I would go to a plant nursery and grab everything and anything that was in bloom and looking great. And I believe in buying multiples: not one plant, but three or five! Needless to say, I was in trouble when I got home and looked for a place to plant them. I needed to create new beds for each truckload of perennials I brought home. Even so, I couldn’t help myself.

Now I am more judicious when I go shopping for plants: I decide ahead of time what I need, and how many. I decide where they will go before I leave home. Still, a few plants seduce me with their beauty every time I arrive at a good greenhouse.

By the way, I’ve heard from many gardeners that some of their perennials, trees and shrubs were damaged by a hard frost in May. Leaves that turned brown will not recover — but will be replaced. I am cutting damaged stems of perennials back to the ground and they should re-sprout. Trees and shrubs that have gone through the winter and leafed out are hardy here and should send out new leaves on their stems, even if they don’t bloom this year. They have dormant buds that will wake up, and plenty of energy in their roots. I won’t bother taking off the dead leaves. So stop worrying if yours got frost-damaged.

Peonies, primroses and barrenwort (which is usually referred to by its scientific name, Epimedium) are blooming in my gardens. I recommend that you buy these now, while in bloom, so you know what you are getting — and if you like them as much as I do.

Some peonies are highly fragrant, others not at all. Some have blossoms with many petals (called doubles) while others have just one or two rings of petals (called singles). Doubles are magnificent but often flop when it rains, sometimes breaking their stems. So you need to tie them to stakes or support them in wire cages made for the task. If you see both kinds in bloom, you can decide what you want to buy.

Most plants have a finite lifespan, but peonies seem to last forever. I have a division of one that was my grandmother’s — and she died in 1953. So plant them well: I dig a wide hole and add compost to it, along with some organic fertilizer — which is naturally slow release. Full sun is best, but they will do OK with 4 to 6 hours of sunshine.

Peonies can be fussy: don’t cover the little growing points beneath the soil with more than ¾ of an inch of soil, or they probably will not bloom. If yours don’t bloom, remove some soil from around them as they are probably too deeply planted.

Primroses, generally, do well in partial to full shade. Some do well in dry soil, but most like moist, rich soil. Read the plant tag carefully before planting. Sometimes I will try a plant in one place, and if after a year or two it is not performing well I move it. Sometimes I move a plant more than once to find the right place for it.

Arlene Perkins of Montpelier, Vermont, is an expert grower of primroses. She told me long ago that all primroses like to grow under old apple trees. The partial shade is right for most, and the soil is naturally enriched by dropping leaves and fruit over time. It is under a cluster of old wild apples that I have had my best luck with primroses, particularly the candelabra or Japanese primrose (Primula japonica). They have multiplied by seed and root from a few planted 20 years ago to over 500 plants, I estimate.

Last year I planted many Primula viallii (no common name) in the perfect growing conditions for them. They bloomed magnificently last summer but so far not one has shown up again. The blossoms are very different from any I know: like little red-topped elf caps over pink/purple bases. It said to self-sow, and it is early yet, so I might see some yet.

Lastly, I love barrenwort or Epimedium. I have about eight different species or varieties of Epimedium, and all are wonderful. Epimedium grow in light to deep shade and do fine under deciduous trees, despite the competition from tree roots for moisture and minerals. My resource books tell me they do best in moist soils, but I grow them routinely in fairly dry soils. I think rich soil is the key, not the amount of moisture.

The common red one (Epimedium rubrum) blooms early in spring but hides its flowers under its leaves, which I don’t like. But it forms such a dense shade cover with its handsome leaves that no weeds will grow under it — so I forgive it.

The colors I grow range from pure purple to red to pink to white, with others a variety of yellows. Again, I suggest buying them in bloom — now — so you can see if the blossoms are prominent above the leaves, or hidden below. The common red one (Epimedium rubrum) blooms early in spring but hides its flowers under its leaves, which I don’t like. But it forms such a dense shade cover with its handsome leaves that no weeds will grow under it — so I forgive it.

I like “collecting” different varieties of plants I like and seeing the differences between different kinds. If one kind does well, its cousins probably will, too. So go buy more of your favorites!

Henry is a UNH Master Gardener and the author of four gardening books. Reach him at henry.homeyer@comcast.net. He lives in Cornish Flat, NH.

Featured photo: Primula vialii is not commonly sold, but is wonderful. Photo by Henry Homeyer.

The Art Roundup 23/06/01

The latest from NH’s theater, arts and literary communities

Correction, even more kids’ theater: Due to an editing error in last week’s summer guide, we left out one regular performance day for the 2023 Bank of New Hampshire Childrens’ Summer Series at the Palace Theatre (80 Hanover St. in Manchester; palacetheatre.org, 668-5588). While the series kicks off with magician BJ Hickman performing Wednesday, July 5, through Friday, July 7, with shows Wednesday and Thursday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and Friday at 10 a.m., subsequent productions also include shows on Tuesday at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. After the magic, the slate of shows is Beauty and the Beast Tuesday, July 11, through Friday, July 14; Rapunzel Tuesday, July 18, through Friday, July 21; Peter Pan Tuesday, July 25, through Friday, July 28; Snow White Tuesday, Aug. 1, through Friday, Aug. 4;The Little Mermaid Tuesday, Aug. 8, through Friday, Aug. 11; Frozen Kids Tuesday, Aug. 15 through Friday, Aug. 18, and Finding Nemo Jr. on Tuesday, Aug 22, through Friday, Aug. 25. Tickets cost $10 per person for each show and are on sale now. The shows are all performed by professional actors, the website said.

Like HGTV but live: The Palace Theatre (668-5588, palacetheatre.org) will hold its Kitchen Tour 2023, to benefit professional and youth theater programming, on Sunday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event features a self-guided tour of kitchens in Amherst, Bedford and Manchester. Purchase tickets in advance; registration for the day of activities (including a lunch offered at Baron’s Major Brands in Manchester) will begin at Granite State Cabinetry in Bedford at 9:30 a.m. Tickets cost $55 per person; recommended for ages 12 and above.

The juried summer exhibit “NEST” will open at Twiggs Gallery (254 King St. in Boscawen; 975-0015, twiggsgallery.org) on Saturday, June 3, and run through Friday, Sept. 1. The exhibit features 31 New Hampshire artists exploring the concept of “nest” with sculpture, drawing, photography, printmaking and painting, according to a press release. An artists reception will be held Saturday, June 3, from 1 to 3 p.m. The gallery is open Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m.

Member show: The summer member show featuring more than 30 New Hampshire artists at Two Villages Art Society’s gallery (846 Main St. in Contoocook; twovillagesart.org) continues through Sunday, June 17. The works include paintings, drawings, book arts, fiber arts, pottery and prints, according to a press release. See the website for gallery hours.

Two Villages also has a series of free monthly drawing nights on the schedule. Hosted by local artists Ty Meier and Jo Gubman, the events allow artists to work alongside peers and receive feedback if desired, according to the website. Bring your own art supplies. Upcoming dates are Thursdays June 15, July 20, Aug. 17, Sept. 21, Oct. 19, Nov. 17 and Dec. 21. Register online.

Swing, swing swing: The Center for the Arts is holding its annual fundraiser, “Swing, Swing, Swing,” at the Dexter Inn in Sunapee on Thursday, June 1, from 7 to 10 p.m. featuring the Bedford Big Band playing music to swing dance to, according to a press release. Come at 6:30 p.m. to get a swing dance lesson, the release said. The evening will also feature desserts, a cash bar and raffle prizes, the release said. Tickets cost $50 per person at centerfortheartsnh.org/summer-party.

At the Art Center: The Art Center (1 Washington St., Suite 1177, in Dover; theartcenterdover.com) has two shows running through the end of June. “Observations: A Photography Exhibition” is showcasing the work of the photographers Ron St. Jean, Manuel Ricardo Perez and Guy Freeman in the Jim Reagan Gallery, according to a press release. The Center is also featuring its studio artists in the show “Rock the House” on display through Friday, June 30. The works include coastal scenes, abstract landscapes, ocean-inspired prints, sculptures and more, the release said. An artists reception for both exhibits will be held Saturday, June 3, from 6 to 9 p.m. The center is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and by appointment, the release said.

Nashua International Sculpture Symposium
Work by the four artists creating the newest additions to Nashua’s public sculptures will officially wrap up Thursday, June 1 (see them from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at Picker Artists (3 Pine St. in Nashua). On Saturday, June 3, the pieces will be unveiled at their locations starting at 1 p.m. at the Picker Artists building, with participants driving to the locations from there, according to an organizer. Check out the symposium’s website, nashuasculpturesymposium.org, for updates on locations. This year’s artists are Anna Rasinska from Poland, Parastoo Ahovan from Iran, Tanya Preminger from Israel and Jim Larson, who grew up in New Hampshire and now lives in Maine, the website said. Find the sculptures from all past symposia on the website with descriptions, artist statements and locations.

Community arts fest: The Castle in the Clouds (Route 171, 455 Old Man Road, Moultonborough; castleintheclouds.org, 476-5900), in partnership with the Lakes Region Art Association, will hold its first Community Arts Festival on Saturday, June 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., according to a press release. The event will feature dozens of crafters, artists, community organizations, art demonstrations, performances, a scavenger hunt, arts activities for kids and more, the release said. Admission to attend is free, the rain date is Sunday, June 11.

Auditions: Cue Zero Theatre Company (cztheatre.com) will hold auditions for its production of the Stephen Sondheim musical Assassins on Tuesday, June 27, at the Arts Academy of New Hampshire in Salem. The production will run Oct. 27 through Oct. 29 at the Derry Opera House, according to a press release. The show will require skilled singers and actors; auditioners should prepare up to three minutes of musical theater material that showcases singing and acting skills, the release said. All performers must be at least 18 years old at the time of auditions. See the website for details and to sign up.

Build a boat: The New Hampshire Boat Museum (399 Center St. in Wolfeboro Falls; nhbm.org, 569-4554) will offer “Adult & Family Boat Building” and “Youth & Family Boat Building” programs this summer, when you can learn all the details of building a boat including how to use the tools, wood cutting, wood working, painting, varnishing and more, according to a press release. The adult and family program runs July 8 through July 16 and the youth and family program runs July 24 through Aug. 2, with daily sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The classes have a registration fee plus a price based on the style of boat.

Concord Arts Market
The juried artisan and fine arts Summer Arts Market will open for the season on Saturday, June 3, at Rollins Park (3 Bow St. in Concord) and run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to the market’s website, concordartsmarket.net. The market will continue with one monthly Saturday session throughout the summer and into the fall, running July 15, Aug. 19, Sept. 16 and Oct. 21, at the same times and location. The Concord Arts Market will also be at Concord’s Market Days Festival Thursday, June 22, through Saturday, June 24, the website said. About 65 vendors are expected at each market; find a list of participating art vendors on the website. At Saturday’s market, activities include Yoga in the Park with Blossom Yoga at 10 a.m.; live music by Concord Community Music School Folk ensemble (10 a.m. to noon) and Eyes of Age (12:30 to 2:30 p.m.); kids’ activities with Zenith Martial Arts and food for sale from Sleazy Vegan food truck and Batulo’s Kitchen.

Music reflecting life

Nashua Chamber Orchestra performs piece director wrote during pandemic

With the 2022-2023 season coming to a close, David Feltner, music director for Nashua Chamber Orchestra, is debuting a piece that he wrote during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s a musical journey of how we heard about this strange disease, and … about isolation, uncertainty and anxiety,” Feltner said.

The piece, titled “From the Depths,” was originally composed as a solo on the viola, Feltner’s primary instrument. As the pandemic went on, Feltner said, he thought more of his friends and colleagues in the Nashua Chamber Orchestra and found himself transcribing sections of the piece into a full orchestration.

Now, Feltner said, he can’t imagine the piece any other way. It begins with a low rumbling on the timpani, to start a feeling of unease. That feeling progresses throughout the music.

“There’s dissonance from the horns, they’re three half-steps apart, and you get this knot in your stomach, this underlying ‘ugh’ feeling that keeps coming back in different ways through the peace,” Feltner said, adding that there is ultimately a resolve into harmony at the end of the piece, to represent coming to terms with the pandemic. “I’m hoping people will identify with that journey.”

The main section of the concert will be Wolfgang Mozart’s 39th Symphony. Before that piece, the concert will feature “Woodland Sketches No. 6-10” by Edward MacDowell, a composer who spent many summers in New Hampshire and whose music often took inspiration from the Granite State’s scenery.

Feltner said the Nashua Chamber Orchestra tries to tie a program together either thematically or through composition, and he feels that his music meets both of those ideas.

Mozart has a distinct style that people often recognize. Feltner said that, from a composition standpoint, he also leaves his own fingerprint on his music, using canons and imitation.

When it comes to MacDowell, Feltner said both of their compositions are describing something.

“He was kind of recreating a scene that he had seen,” Feltner said. “A personal response to a place or situation … his is more programmatic, mine is more abstract.”

Feltner hopes people listen and feel the emotions in the music.

“Music, I feel, should touch the heart, and of course engage the mind,” Feltner said. “Music doesn’t have to be a concrete thing, but it has to express something.”

Mozart and Friends
When: Saturday, June 3, at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Nashua Community College (505 Amherst St.)Sunday, June 4, at 7:30 p.m. at Milford Town Hall (1 Union Square)
Price: $20 for adults, $15 for college students, seniors, and active military/veterans, free for students ages 18 and younger
Visit: nco-music.org

Featured photo: David Feltner. Courtesy photo.

Wine in summer

Discover new wines as NH moves its Wine Week celebration to a sunnier season

New Hampshire Wine Week, traditionally a late January affair, has been moved to June for the first time in its nearly 20-year history. Internationally renowned winemakers will once again travel to the Granite State to participate in a week of tastings, seminars and dinners, culminating with the rebranded New England Wine Spectacular. The annual expo-style wine tasting is returning for an 18th year on Thursday, June 15, and will feature thousands of wines to taste from around the world — sometimes poured and handed out by the winemakers themselves — plus a variety of locally prepared food options for pairing.

Last held in its traditional format in January 2020, New Hampshire Wine Week transitioned to a series of virtual tastings at the height of the pandemic the following year. Rising Covid-19 numbers by early January 2022 again forced the cancellation of the event, just two weeks before it was scheduled to take place. Now anticipation for the Spectacular’s return in full force is high among winemakers and organizers.

“What we’re seeing is an anxiousness for people to congregate again. I definitely get that sense with a lot of the winemakers and the brokerage community,” said Justin Gunter, wine beverage marketing specialist for the New Hampshire Liquor Commission. “We really want to take the foundation of the event that has been built over all this time and keep increasing that visibility.”

Lorrie Piper, the NHLC’s chief marketing officer, said that despite the date changes, the plan is to keep New Hampshire Wine Week mostly in the same format as in pre-pandemic years. While the Spectacular is on that Thursday, it will be surrounded by a week’s worth of other events, from wine dinners at local restaurants to bottle signings at several of the nearly 70 Liquor & Wine Outlet stores statewide.

The NHLC regularly monitors consumer trends that sometimes influence what you may discover at these events. Wines and spirits in the ready-to-drink category, for instance, are on the rise — Piper said the sheer number of RTD products on the shelves of each store rose by about 30 percent in 2022 from 2021.

“For the RTDs, I think you’re seeing people who are going to get out this summer, and they are looking for that kind of grab-and-go, thrown in your cooler sort of thing, heading out to your picnic or whatever you’re doing outside,” she said. “We continually get presented with new concoctions and things that are brand new to the market. … I think customers are leaning toward the brands that they already know and are comfortable with, and just kind of parlaying that into these ready-to-drink options as well.”

A spectacle of wines

The premier event of New Hampshire Wine Week, the New England Wine Spectacular will take place at the DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester Downtown. Since its inception, the Spectacular has become known as one of the largest wine tasting events in the country, boasting around 1,700 different products to try from regions all over the world. Attendees will also be able to meet face to face with many of the wine industry’s most well-known personalities throughout the evening, and can learn more or ask questions about their products.

“It’s really a great opportunity to get everybody together again, and to celebrate wine and everything that is,” Gunter said. “Wine enthusiasts of any level, from the very beginner who is starting to explore the world of wine … all the way to the wine aficionado, will have that opportunity to go to places they’ve never been able to go.”

Expected visitors of this year’s Spectacular hail from all over the West Coast, including in California’s Napa and Sonoma counties, as well as some European countries like France and Italy, and even below the equator in nations like Argentina. New Hampshire winemakers also join in on the fun with offerings of their own — LaBelle Winery of Amherst and Derry, Sweet Baby Vineyard of Hampstead and Zorvino Vineyards of Sandown are among those representing the Granite State.

Along with the thousands of wines, the Spectacular will have a variety of exclusive silent auction items available to bid on, and food samples from around 30 participating restaurants.

“They will primarily have … dishes on single-serve plates. It’s basically hors d’oeuvres, amuse-bouche types of servings,” Gunter said. “[The food is] not really designed to be the feature of the show, but it is designed to enhance the pairings of the two. … Most of the restaurants that are going to be supporting us are local, and so it’s an opportunity for them to present some of their fare and get their name out as well.”

The NHLC has developed an app for this year’s Spectacular that will be designed to help attendees navigate the wine purveyors. Gunter added that each table will offer a recipe submitted by the winemakers or wine representatives themselves for an item that pairs with at least one of their wines.

“From what I’ve seen, the recipes are all over the place from desserts to main courses. It really does run the gamut,” he said. “It’ll be a little bit more of an immersive experience our guests can take with them … that doesn’t just fade away over the course of the next week. … We’ve collected well over 100 recipes already and ultimately the goal is to have one at every single table.”

Proceeds from this year’s Spectacular will benefit the New Hampshire Food Bank, a program of Catholic Charities New Hampshire. According to Nancy Mellitt, the Food Bank’s director of development, the nonprofit distributed more than 16 million pounds of food statewide in 2022.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with the New Hampshire Liquor Commission … [and] to be the nonprofit beneficiary,” Mellitt said. “Our primary focus is the distribution of food to more than 400 partner agencies throughout the state, so that is your food pantries, your soup kitchens, your after-school and senior programs and more. Then in addition to that, we have our outreach programs, and so this … will help support all that we encompass.”

Tastes of Tuscany

The night before the Spectacular, on Wednesday, June 14, the NHLC will host “Perfect Pairings,” a multi-course sampling of Italian foods and wines at the Manchester Country Club in Bedford. Cristina Mariani-May, the president and CEO of Banfi Wines, will be in attendance to present some of her company’s offerings, each paired with four courses and a dessert courtesy of Chef Edward Aloise of Republic Consulting. Aloise, formerly of Republic Cafe and Campo Enoteca, two award-winning eateries in downtown Manchester, will also be joined in the kitchen by Manchester Country Club executive chef Dan Henry.

Aloise’s menu for the evening will focus on recipes he has previously used at both Republic Cafe and Campo Enoteca that were influenced by his trips to Tuscany, Italy, as well as his own research into the region’s culinary traditions. Mariani-May, a third-generation winemaker, regularly splits her time between New York and the Castello Banfi vineyard estate in Montalcino, a town in southern Tuscany that has more than 7,000 acres of land she oversees. “[Aloise] created a very special menu that pairs with the wines of Banfi, and so I think it’s going to be a really amazing treat for people to be walked through the menu and the wines they are tasting, and pairing them together,” Piper said. “It’s going to be a phenomenal night.”

More happenings

If you can’t make either the Spectacular or the “Perfect Pairings” samplings, New Hampshire Wine Week is filled with dozens of other events. The multi-course wine dinners, for instance, are often attended by the winemakers themselves, the food served in a uniquely intimate setting. Piper said one of their own wines is served with each course, and they will typically go over the notes detected in that wine and the reasoning behind its food pairing.

Many winemakers will also hold bottle signings and wine tastings at various Liquor & Wine Outlet stores — most of those run for two hours and are free to walk-in visitors.

“I think you’ll find that most of the winemakers like being out in stores as much as we love having them there,” Gunter said. “They like the representation of the product and the partnership that we try to create.”

Piper said a master list of each bottle signing and wine dinner can be found online at nhwineweek.com and will continue to be updated right up until the week begins.

“We’re making it sort of the destination for Wine Week activity, so it’s one place to learn everything that they want to learn about what’s going on that week,” she said.

Meet the wine expert: Cristina Mariani-May

woman in blue blouse, standing outside near stone wall, foliage in background, holding large wine glass, smiling
Cristina Mariani-May

President and CEO, Banfi Wines, banfiwinesusa.com

Cristina Mariani-May is the third-generation proprietor of Banfi, the company founded by her grandfather, John Mariani Sr., in 1919. The globally recognized wine brand is perhaps best known for its more than 7,000-acre Castello Banfi vineyard estate in Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy. Banfi’s domestic portfolio also includes Pacific Rim & Co. and Rainstorm, two Pacific Northwest-based collections of brands respectively located in Washington State and Oregon, and its ownership even extends to Natura wines, produced by Emiliana Organic Vineyards in Chile. Mariani-May joined Banfi in 1993, shortly after completing her studies at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. She is a longtime participant of New Hampshire Wine Week — you’ll find her both at this year’s Spectacular and during a special “Perfect Pairings” sampling event at the Manchester Country Club in Bedford on Wednesday, June 14, presenting Banfi’s wines alongside a thoughtfully crafted multi-course menu from award-winning chef Edward Aloise.

What will you be pouring at the New England Wine Spectacular?

We’ll be pouring our flagship, which is our Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino. [It’s made with] 100 percent sangiovese [grapes] and is one of our most beautiful wines. … We’ll be having our Gavi, [which is] called Principessa Gavia Gavi, and our Rosa Regale, which is our red sparkling dessert wine. [It’s] a little sweet. That one comes from Piedmont, Italy, and is always a hit at the show. [We will also have] our San Angelo pinot grigio, [and] our Chianti Classico Riserva, so quite a broad selection.

What makes your wines unique?

The ones we make from Italy have been developed over 40 years, really with pioneering research. We came to the area as Americans, which is very unusual. We ended up amassing 7,100 acres, so it’s one of the largest contiguous properties in all of Italy, but only one-third of it is dedicated to vineyards. The rest is a sustainable estate with agriculture. … So, what is so unique about our wines is that when we came to the area it was all virgin soil. From 1978 going forward, we paired up with the greatest oenology universities in the world — Bordeaux, Pisa, Milan, Davis — and we became a research center. We researched not only the Sangiovese grapes for brunello, but also with pinot grigio, merlot, syrah, [and] a lot of French varieties that had never existed in Italy. … So, really why Banfi Wines has done so well over time is because we have this constant, consistent and outstanding quality while also being 100 percent sustainable from when my family came to virgin land. … Because we are an experimental center, we are constantly improving and adjusting so that we can have the most outstanding quality in the most sustainable manner, vintage after vintage.

What are some trends you have noticed recently in the wine world?

Italian white wines that are alternatives to pinot grigio are definitely very trendy. … We have two whites that we look forward to showing. One is our Principessa Gavia Gavi, which is made from cortese grapes, and the other one that is doing so well is our La Pettegola Vermentino. … The Brunello di Montalcino, which is a classic red wine, has also not slowed down. People want heritage, they want authenticity, they want provenance, and they get that from the Brunello di Montalcino. … There’s definitely a premiumization that’s still continuing.

What do you look forward to the most about New Hampshire Wine Week?

What I like the most, really, is just the camaraderie and the joy that all the consumers get from coming to this event. … I’ve been to tastings all over the world, and sometimes you get people that just don’t really care much — they just want to drink. The difference I’ve always found in New Hampshire is that people come from all over New England, and they are really interested in learning even if they don’t know a lot about wine. And, I think that’s the most fun, is that we really resonate well with consumers.

Meet the wine expert: Tom Zack

Tom Zack

Wine director, Zorvino Vineyards, zorvino.com

Located on 80 acres in Sandown, Zorvino Vineyards began as a hobby for founders Jim and Cheryl Zanello. They purchased the property in 2000 after retiring, planting a few wines in their new backyard. More than two decades later Zorvino Vineyards has grown to now offer around 75 types of wines and host all kinds of events from private wedding ceremonies and receptions to Sunday brunches, special multi-course dinners and more. Tom Zack has served as Zorvino’s wine director since 2005 and has been involved in many facets of the wine business, from marketing and sales to graphic and label design, event hosting and advising on wine production. Zack has also been a board member of the New Hampshire Winery Association since 2010. Earlier this year Zorvino Vineyards was named New Hampshire Winery of the Year in 2023 by the state’s Liquor Commission.

What will you be pouring at the New England Wine Spectacular?

We have seven different varietals that are in the state system. We’ll probably bring six of the seven. … One of the ones I’m touting right now is one we call Black Widowz, which is a black currant and apple blend, which is fabulous. … One of our top-selling wines for as long as I can remember is a strawberry blend. We call it Fragole Z — we use Z in everything we can — and Fragole means strawberry in Italian. We’ll be pouring that one too. We are the first ones in New Hampshire to make a peach wine and a pear wine. We’ll have those available as well.

What makes your wines unique?

When I came into the business I was already into wine and I was already a foodie. You can make wine when the grapes grow, which is in the spring in South America and in the fall up here. However, in order to keep wine rolling all the time, we really got into making fruit wines, because you can do fruit wines at all different times of the year if you have the juice. … One of the things I wanted to do is to not make sweet fruit wines. I wanted our fruit wines to be off-dry, so they would work well with all kinds of different foods. That’s a trend that we started a long time ago, and pretty much everybody up here has followed suit.

What are some trends you have noticed recently in the wine world?

One of the trends that I’ve noticed is I’m seeing a lot more 20-somethings and early 30s folks who are really getting into wine now. … I think part of that came from the pandemic. Our patio has been rocking since the pandemic … and it’s just become a crazy place to be. We typically sell it out a week in advance, when it starts getting busier in the summer. … We wanted to set some trends in the wine industry, and that’s why we created what we call the Z Wine Labs releases. What’s really cool about them is that they are meant to come out every couple of weeks and then sell out. Every year, we run through the season with a whole different list of these wines that are really kind of exciting and new — things like peanut butter and jelly, lemon lavender and honey, and a mojito wine we have that just came out. … Kudos for Z Wine Labs go to our young winemakers, Dave Sexton and Sam Breslin.

What do you look forward to the most about New Hampshire Wine Week?

The thing I look most forward to is renewing old acquaintances. I’ve been in this business for a long time now, [and] I know some of the great winemakers that have been around. I don’t get to see them, but they show up in our backyard now at this great expo. … I also love to see what new wines the New Hampshire wineries have, and to get to try them myself, so you’ll find me behind my booth but you’ll also find me chatting with some of my compatriots in the business.

Featured photo: Photo by Timothy Courtemanche.

This Week 23/06/01

Big Events June 1, 2023 and beyond

Thursday, June 1

Plant sale season continues.Squam Lakes Natural Science Center (nhnature.org) begins its Kirkwood Gardens plant sale today (900 Route 3 in Holderness); it continues through Sunday, June 18, or until the plants run out. The Derry Garden Club will have a sale on Saturday, June 3, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Robert Frost Farm (122 Rockingham Road, Derry). The Sandown Garden Club is (sandowngardenclub.org) hosting its plant sale on Saturday, June 3,from 9 a.m. to noon at the Sandown Fire Station (314 Main St.). The Hooksett Garden Club’s (hooksettnhgardenclub.org) annual plant sale will be on Saturday, June 3, from 9 a.m. to noon at R&R Public Wholesalers (1371 Hooksett Road). The New Hampshire Audubon (nhaudubon.org) will have a plant sale and craft fair on Sunday, June 4, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the McLane Center (84 Silk Farm Road in Concord). Tell us about upcoming sales at adiaz@hippopress.com

Friday, June 2

Evergreen Woodland Garden (42 Summer St. in Goffstown) is “a naturalistic one-acre woodland garden created by landscape designer Robert Gillmore and named for its extensive massed evergreen plantings,” according to evergreenfoundationnh.org. The garden, which the website says features 220 Catawba rhododendrons and 175 massed rosebay rhododendrons, will open to the public (no children under 12 or pets) to tour for free today through Sunday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

Friday, June 2

The town of Bennington will host a rhubarb festival today through Sunday, June 4, at Sawyer Memorial Park (Route 202) in Bennington. The celebration will include a pie contest, food trucks, vendors, live-action roleplay demonstrations, live music (Eyes of Age today at 6 p.m.; Boneshakerz on Saturday at 6 p.m.), petting zoos and more. Admission and parking to the festival are free. Find the event on Facebook.

Friday, June 2

The Palace Theatre (80 Hanover St. in Manchester; palacetheatre.org, 668-5588) presents Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, starting tonight at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost from $25 to $46 and can be purchased at palacetheatre.org. The show continues through Sunday, June 25, with shows at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sundays.

Saturday, June 3

The Goffstown Rotary Club’s (Parsons Drive) car show runs today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include food trucks and raffles as well as a show of classic automobiles. Admission for spectators is free. See goffstownrotary.org

Sunday, June 4

The WWE Supershow comes to the the SNHU Arena (555 Elm St. in Manchester) tonight at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at snhuarena.com.

Save the Date! Saturday, June 24
The annual In Full Bloom garden tour at the Kimball Jenkins Estate (266 N. Main St., Concord) will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The self-guided tour will cover the eight public and private gardens. The event is rain or shine, $20 in advance, $25 the day of. Visit concordgardenclubnh.com/events.

Quality of Life 23/06/01

Cookies donated

More than 33,000 packages of Girl Scout Cookies have been donated to numerous organizations across New Hampshire and Vermont. According to a press release, the Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, the council serving Girl Scouts in both states, orchestrated the donations through their Gift of Caring program, with the Girl Scouts themselves personally delivering the cookies. The gesture was made possible by the collective efforts of troops, with thousands of packages contributed through both online and in-person sales. Some troops collaborated to donate cookies collectively across the council, while others individually donated hundreds of packages to support causes close to their hearts.

QOL score: +1

Comment: The New Hampshire Food Bank in Manchester was one of the largest recipients, receiving hundreds of cases of cookies.

Fruit and veggie crop losses

A historic freeze last month dealt a devastating blow to Upper Valley fruit and vegetable growers, resulting in significant crop losses for some, NHPR reported. After experiencing a dry April that ranked as one of the hottest on record in New Hampshire, the region encountered cooler temperatures in May. A low temperature of 23 degrees the night of May 17 broke not only the record for that specific date but also for any day in May within the past 50 years. The full extent of the damage is yet to be determined but is expected to have long-lasting effects.

QOL score: -2

Comment: The affected farms remain uncertain about the extent of financial assistance they may receive to cope with the losses, according to the article.

Socks donated

Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) organized a sock collection drive across its 23 branch locations and three back offices that garnered 1,600 pairs of socks donated by community members and employees, matched by nonprofit partner Operation Service with an additional 1,000 pairs of socks. The 2,600 pairs of socks were distributed to 20 nonprofits through New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

QOL score: +1

Comment: Socks are an often overlooked but highly requested item at homeless shelters and play a crucial role in promoting the health, well-being and dignity of those in need, according to the release.

SNAP at farmers markets

The New Hampshire Food Bank is enhancing access to fresh and local fruits and vegetables at farmers markets across the state this summer. According to a press release, the Granite State Market Match program, aimed at helping SNAP households in New Hampshire, allows participants to stretch their benefits and increase buying power at participating farmers markets. With $1 in fruit and vegetable vouchers provided for every $1 charged to their EBT card, SNAP households can double their benefits. More than 25 markets currently participate in Granite State Market Match, with new sites being added regularly. Additionally, select independent retailers offer 50 percent off fresh produce for SNAP households through the Double Up Food Bucks NH initiative.

QOL score: +1

Comment: Last year 3,752 New Hampshire residents used the program and Granite State Market Match infused $175,901 into the state’s economy.

QOL score: 75

Net change: +1

QOL this week: 76

What’s affecting your Quality of Life here in New Hampshire? Let us know at news@hippopress.com.

Stay in the loop!

Get FREE weekly briefs on local food, music,

arts, and more across southern New Hampshire!