SCITUATE – Hidden in the woods along Hartford Pike behind a large three-bay stone oven is Scituate’s first wine farm, owned and maintained by Lou Polseno, of Lou Polseno and Son Landscaping, producing five varieties of Nova grapes -England.
Polseno, originally from Smithfield, moved to Scituate after graduating from the University of Rhode Island in the 1980s. He purchased the last remaining plot of the old Highland Orchard apple orchard and amusement park.
Polseno said he is proud of the work he has done on the land at Polseno Farms and what he says is Scituate’s first vineyard. Many old apple trees were sick and had to be removed. Fortunately, he said, about half a dozen of the original apple trees have survived, producing sweet McIntosh and Macoun apples.
The land took a lot of work to prepare for production, he said, including leveling the land, removing large boulders known to the area and installing an underwater drainage system.
“Grapes love drought. It’s not the California wildfires kind of drought, but they like it dry, ”he said.
Polseno said the soil here is good for wine. He said he worked the land and maintained the slope to allow the grapes to have the air necessary to flourish. He started cultivating grapes six years ago and the operation is finally working at the production level.
“Reds at the top and whites at the bottom,” he said.
For now, Polseno sells his grapes to local markets for wine use. He said he hopes to start producing his own wine next year and start selling it the following year. He hopes to open the property to wine tastings and tours. Of course, he said, the apples will be available to the guests.
The Polseno log cabin is surrounded by 4 hectares of vineyards. Stone patios surround his house, where he has an outdoor kitchen with another outdoor pizza oven. Polseno said he was known for his ovens and, in turn, for his pizzas.
He said he came from a farming family and wanted to grow something that no one in his family had grown before.
“I like red better, but I like all wines. I generally go for local hybrids. They have different flavors, more acidity, it’s a different palate, ”he said.
Her daughter, Ava, a high school student from Ponaganset who is not yet old enough to enjoy wine, said she enjoys eating Concord-style grapes. Although seeded, they are fragrant and sweet. Sitting on a bucket along one of the many rows of vines, Ava helped workers harvest the fruit using a specialized tool, a grape razor fork, which plucks the bunches of grapes from the stems. .
Ava said she has been helping her dad since he started.
“She is as involved as I am in this operation,” said Polseno.
As Ava is chopping grapes and preparing to leave for work at her other job, Polseno reminds her to spray a deterrent for a flock of birds circling overhead. He said birds and bees are the biggest threat to the harvest.
“These birds could mess it all up in a matter of minutes,” Polseno said, adding that he is using an all-natural deterrent to ward them off.
Polseno, who runs a landscaping and masonry business, said he enjoys involving his children in his work as much as he can. His son, Dominic, helps him with his landscaping business while also working in the Narragansett Fire Department.
In all, Polseno grows five varieties of northern hybrid grapes in University of Minnesota red and white. The length of the season varies for each of the grapes, with its preferred and sweetest grape harvested in October and other varieties with harvests as early as August.
The Smithfield High School wrestling coach employs several members of his team to help with the harvest, sitting across from each other in each row chatting as the grapes are harvested. Each row has around 100 plants, which typically takes a team around three hours to fully harvest.