None of Coffin Cellars’ wines comes from grapes. Yes, you read that right — not even one. Instead, they use all kinds of fruits, vegetables, and even flowers, seemingly anything under the sun that could have an interesting flavor profile. Just not grapes.
Inspired by naturalist Euell Gibbons, Peter Coffin Austin began crafting fruit wine as a hobby in 1970, using blackberries, raspberries, and dandelions from the garden at his Revolutionary War-era home. His sons, Jamie and Tim, who now help run Coffin Cellars, would spend afternoons assisting their dad by stomping the fruits and, later, participating in the whole winemaking process.
After years of winemaking as a family passion project, and with support from friends who had enjoyed the results, the Austins decided to open Coffin Cellars to the public in 2010. They’ve since expanded from the backyard garden to a two-acre lot near the family home that they call the “berry patch,” due to it holding thousands of berry bushes, fruit vines, and orchard trees. But the family’s history and home base are still the heart of Coffin Cellars.
The house where the Austins started winemaking (and continue to do so) dates back to 1775, and the tasting room they opened in 2016 is a restored Civil War-era shoemaker’s shop original to the family’s home property. The Austins also incorporated the family theme into the restoration, enlisting an old family friend to create and install all of the property-found wood paneling and floorboards and craft the hand-done designs. It’s a work of art. The homey and historical feel permeates throughout the property.
The name “Coffin” dates back generations, as well, to the mid-17th century. The surname can be found all over Nantucket and is synonymous with the whaling industry, thanks to one English farmer and his many children. Peter the winemaker is named after one such descendant, the famous whaling captain Peter Coffin. Jamie used the inspiration from the name to design the Coffin Cellars logo. From the homegrown berries to the name to the company logo, it is clear that history and family are the backbones of Coffin Cellars — and high-quality, unique wines, of course.
Coffin Cellars rotates up to fifteen varietals, ranging from the full-bodied Black Current Wine and Elderberry Wine to the crisp, light Lime Wine and Tomato Wine; for those looking for an extra kick, Coffin Cellar’s Jalapeno Wine will surely put a little jazz in your step. Their wines average two to five years to produce, so the rotation of varietals depends on availability.
Coffin Cellars’ dry to semi-sweet table wines are sold locally at various farmers’ markets, as well as at the tasting room in Webster. The winery’s most popular wine, Cranberry-Pomegranate, is sold with us here at New Hampshire Wine and Liquor Outlet. If you’re looking to get a firsthand feel of the family history behind Coffin Cellar or want to try some of their unique varieties, tastings are available by reservation Saturday and Sunday from 1-5pm.
Coffin Cellars, LLC
1224 Battle Street, Webster, NH 03303