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To save the wine industry, this Vermont vintner is embracing outside influences and ingredients

Know for her vinous ciders, Zafa Wines founder Krista Scruggs is making great wines by breaking with tradition.

To save the wine industry, this Vermont vintner is embracing outside influences and ingredients
[Photo: Scott McDermott]

Vermont-based vintner Krista Scruggs is at the forefront of a movement that’s shaking up winemaking by embracing outside influences—and ingredients. Since launching her natural winery, Zafa Wines, in 2017, she has produced groundbreaking vintages that frequently blend apples with grapes to create what’s known as “vinous ciders,” a burgeoning new category. “We like to say that wine should taste of the place that it’s from, and what is more Vermont than apples, maple syrup, and grapes?” explains Scruggs, who has given Zafa Wines the motto “Just fucking fermented juice” and who has used maple syrup in her sparkling wines. With cheeky names such as “Poetic Justice,” her limited-edition bottles consistently sell out and have caught the attention of the establishment: Wine Enthusiast put her on its 40 Under 40 list in 2018. Last winter, she teamed up with a local cider company to open Co Cellars, a retail and production space in Burlington, Vermont, that showcases these hybrid wines, and she’s now experimenting with several beermakers to combine grapes with hops. Scruggs, who has been leasing land for her vineyards, recently acquired a plot via the Vermont Land Trust and began planting her own vineyard focused on regenerative agriculture, establishing her—as she points out—as one of the 1.3% of Black farmers in America.

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