By: Roberta Wells, The Hotel Concord GSA Class of 2019
Forrest Gump may have said it best when he stated: “Life is Like a Box of Chocolates”……you know the rest. Indeed, today (Saturday) Brian and I set off for the Concord Farmers Market in search of Blackwater Mustard. If you’ve never tried it, you should. It is New Hampshire-made, and they have several delicious varieties (Hot & Sweet, Maple, Cranberry, Tavern 5 Ale, & more). They can be found throughout the state at local shops, the Rt 93 Rest Area in Hooksett, and usually at their booth at the Farmers Market. Of course, they were not there today! But we had a nice stroll through the market as well as up and down Concord’s Main Street to enjoy the fall weather and see what treasures we might find.
On the way back to our car we passed by one of our State Historical Markers. This one documents our First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary History and is located across the street from the State House in Front of the State Library. Also on the grounds is a paving stone timeline of how NH voted from 1952 to 2020. Having been inspired by one of our newest GSA’s recent feats of visiting all 250+ markers in the course of this past year, we took note and we took the time to stop, read, and photograph this marker. We hope it is but the first in our journey to eventually visit most, if not all, of NH’s roadside history.
On our return to Sanbornton we chose to take the byway (Rt3) vs the Highway (Rt93). On the way we noticed another of the NH Historical Markers: the Gerrish Depot sign and this historic still-standing landmark that sits aside the Northern Rail Trail where Concord meets Boscawen. The building hosts a sign indicating there are fundraising efforts underway to support the preservation of this landmark. Two markers down, 234 or so to go.
Continuing on along Rt 3 as we crossed from Salisbury into Franklin, we noticed the sign for the Daniel Webster Birthplace. In for a penny, in for a pound, even though not exactly on our way, but suspecting there is sure to be another Historical Marker, we turned onto Rt 127 and headed on up the road. On the way we passed one of my favorite gardens to visit in the spring and summer – Tarbin Gardens – always a pleasant place to stroll and afterwards enjoy a spot of English Cream Tea. We continued on, and just where there is a sign to turn for the Daniel Wester Birthplace, there is also a small sign for Wine Tasting at Blackbear Vineyards. (Two birds, one stone.) Up the road we went and indeed found the Daniel Webster Historical Marker and Small Home where he was born in 1782. If you take a moment in history to think about that, he was born after the Revolutionary War but before we had ratified our Constitution, and he went on to become one of the preeminent Constitutional Lawyers in the country.
Turning back down the road, just a short distance away, is the entrance to Blackbear Vineyards. They have only been open to the public a few years but are on the growing list of boutique wineries cropping up around the state. The owner and Vinter, Ted, had a vision when he first saw this piece of property, and today it spans 18 acres of rolling hills in Salisbury and is one of the largest vineyards in the state. In the tasting room around the back of his home, we were able to taste 5 varietals that he produced from grapes he imports from South America. In the spring you can taste the estate varietals from the grapes he harvests on site every fall. His wines have become so popular he usually sells out all his estate wines by the end of summer. That is why in the fall he has the wines from imported grapes that hit the fermenting tanks in the spring for fall bottling. The grapes that were harvested just recently are currently in the tank fermenting to be ready for spring tastings. In addition to the wine, the beautiful views, the firepit and lawn games, they frequently offer music on Saturday afternoons.
So we did not leave the house this morning expecting to be tasting wines and learning NH’s roadside history. We had left in search of mustard. I wonder what we will find next time we go slightly off our beaten path?