Truro Vineyards’ Gift Shop: A Local Artist Showcase
For this installment we are going to bypass the very tempting front lawn of Truro Vineyards. Don’t worry, we can hit it afterwards. It’s not easy to walk past the picnic tables of smiling folks sipping wine and cocktails, and certainly a challenge to skip the Crush Pad food truck, but we have a mission! Today we are marching right through the front door (don’t forget your mask, please!) and take a tour of the colorful Truro Vineyards gift shop.
Cape Cod Artists & Aritisans, Meet The Truro Vineyards Gift Shop…
Walking into the gift shop at Truro Vineyards is so colorful, whimsical and chock full of temptations I’m instantly reminded of that giant room in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory–the one with the chocolate waterfall. Except this place is even better because there’s an arsenal of wine in it, and as my cardiologist says “Wine is a whole lot better for you than a chocolate river” (perhaps a colossal paraphrase, but whatever). Now granted, the room may not be as big as Willy Wonka’s, but it’s grown exponentially, and as the business of the day at Truro Vineyards + South Hollow Spirits grows, so does everything else on the property. The grape vines keep growing in the literal sense, but so does the list of grape varietals, the selection of spirit labels (and thus the ever growing list of cocktail choices), the dining options, the number of dining tables, heck, even the rest rooms have had to be expanded to keep up with demand. So why shouldn’t the gift shop? Actually, the gift shop had to expand. The one thing about Cape Cod is that the further one travels into the “outer Cape”, the more creative the locals become.
Cape Cod is a local artist’s mecca–always has been. Writers have penned loving odes to Cape Cod and its ever changing seasons and colors. Painters have tried to capture the Cape’s natural beauty from every nook, knoll, harbor and beach. Etchers have sketched every historic building and ramshackle beach cottage within view. You can host a 100 foot “long table” dinner and fill the whole thing with nothing but food provided by Cape Cod growers and food artisans. Of course, being one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations means there are no shortage of folks looking to fill their car trucks with what local artisans have to offer. And that is why the gift shop at the vineyard had to go through a massive expansion a few years ago. Truro might be considered a smaller town, but it happens to be a serious artist’s destination, nestled in the heart of a much larger artist’s destination, Cape Cod. As far as many are concerned, Truro Vineyards is the beating heart of Truro, so it’s the perfect place to highlight some of what Cape Cod and the area has to offer artistically.
Painted Lighthouses and Chocolate. What’s Not to Love?
Walking into the shop I first noticed some familiar forms–Truro Vineyards lighthouse-shaped wine bottles–but bedazzled in a way that I have never seen. AV Art & Design is owned by Amber Vuilleumier, who has a BFA in Interior Design and a Masters in Interior Architecture. Although Amber lives on the shores of Connecticut, she feels a real connection to Truro. “I was originally introduced to Truro Vineyards through a friend who lives in Truro,” she explains. “She offered me a glass of their lighthouse wine and I fell in love with the wine and the bottle, so I tried every wine in the collection.” Like everyone else you buys a lighthouse bottle of wine, she couldn’t toss the bottle. “Eventually I had several bottles that I didn’t know what to do with. I didn’t want to throw them out, so I painted them. I showed my friend who suggested I send it to the vineyard and it took off from there! I never imagined that they would want it in their store!” The entire collection of brilliantly painted bottles can be viewed on the AV Art & Design Facebook page.
Speaking of rivers of chocolate, there are a couple of areas in the shop where you can pick up “Cape Cod crafted” Chequessett Chocolate (note: one spot is right at the register–the impulse with a capitol “I” buy). Katherine Reed and Josiah Mayo launched Chequessett Chocolate in 2014 during what they call “a fateful trip to Costa Rica”. Inspired by local outdoor chocolate makers, Katherine and Josiah filled their backpacks with cacao beans (is that legal?) and boarded the plane back to New England (who cares–we’re glad they did it!).
With a vision of being Cape Cod chocolate makers, they bought their first chocolate-making machine in Wellfleet near Chequessett Neck, and they were off to the races. Their lack of chocolate making knowledge was heavily boosted with backgrounds in science and culinary arts—and a passion for honestly produced food. Since then the list of Chequessett Chocolate bars available for gorging has racked up multiple accolades and awards, and their confections are totally, well, confectious. You can purchase retail and wholesale online, but if you’d like to check out their cafe and shop, they’re located about five minutes from Truro Vineyards at 8 Highland Road in Truro. Thank me later.
The Magical Shingles of Shinglefish
A favorite local item in the shop is made by a company called Shinglefish, which is not only fun to say, they’re paintings are equally fun to look at. Shinglefish makes small works of art painted whimsically on…wait for it…shingles. Weather worn cottage shingles have long been a familiar building block of “olde Cape Cod” and just the sight of one can bring up memories of a beautiful day by the beach–much like a beach stone, sea glass or drift wood. Shinglefish makes freehand painted fish, sea creatures, surfboards, shellfish, and specifically for Truro Vineyards, wine related paintings. The local artist behind the shingles is Nicole Gelinas, who has recently added thoughtful oyster dishes, or “oystergrams” to her inventory–Cape Cod oyster shells beautifully polished, and each with a positive message on the interior–from “You got this” to “Hello Gorgeous” and, of course…
“The world is your oyster”. Nicole has a wonderful gift of not just re-purposing items that might be easily discarded, but one might say “better-purposing” them.
Nuts, Pops and Rum, YUM!
There are gifts and souvenirs from all over the New England area. Q’s Nuts is located in Somerville, MA, but Cape Codders don’t have to go over the bridge to get their nut fix. Bags of their scrumptiously crunchy Key Lime Ginger Cashews and Mexican Chocolate Pecans are a-plenty, and as unhealthy as that might sound, all of their recipes are vegan as well as gluten, soy and dairy free. Q’s Nuts uses raw organic cane sugar, as well as organic chocolate, pure spices and all natural roasting ﬂavors (think chocolate waterfalls without the guilt). I didn’t see any bags of their “Banana Foster Almonds” with rum and vanilla, but if I can put a request in right now, I’d like to add those to my next visit to the vineyard, please and thank you.
Another big Cape Cod favorite (and yes, mine) are Cape Cod Pops. Cape Cod Pops are these magically melty chocolaty treats that escaped from their home in Orleans, MA (and more specifically The Local Scoop ice cream shop) and have spread themselves around parts of Cape Cod, ruining diets everywhere. The Local Scoop’s name is perfectly appropriate as they utilize all kinds of other local products to make their ice cream. For example, for the pirate penchant, the “Rum Raisin” pop features rum raisin ice cream with South Hollow Spirits Twenty Boat Spiced Rum, white chocolate and finished with Chequessett Chocolate (see above ;). The “Vineyard” pop features Cape Cod cranberry ice cream with Truro Vineyards Cranberry Wine and sprinkled with Wellfleet Seasalt and Orleans’ Hole-in-One Restaurant granola. For those who want to catch a buzz with fewer calories, try the “Java” pop with espresso frozen yogurt which is hand dipped in more coffee and sprinkled with coffee beans from Snowy Owl Coffee Roasters in Brewster, MA.
Kickin’ Out the JAMS with some HEAT!
The Chatham Jam & Jelly Shop‘s products are plentiful in the store, in just about every flavor imaginable, from Wild Blueberry and Peach Lavender to a spicy Apricot Habanero and “Strawberries in Champagne”. Once again the vineyard makes appearances in a Twenty Boat Spiced Rum Pineapple Jam and a Truro Cranberry Red Wine Jelly. Adding to kitchen cabinets everywhere are offerings from Cape Cod Saltworks with “summer citron” sea salt, “Herbs De Provence” sea salt and “garlic infused” sea salt, to name a few.
When farmer Drake Cook, who manages Pure Joy Farm in Truro, got together with fellow farmer Victoria Pecoraro of The Wellfleet Chick Koop, a company was born between two farmer friends, which is exactly what they named their hot sauce company. Farmer Friends makes hot sauces that would make any human howl like a Beagle in heat. The line is an homage to their furry family members with”Ruff Stuff” hot sauce having a heat index of 8.5 out of 10 while “Howlapeno” only 6 out of 10 and “Hair of the Dog” is a 5. Whatever your pain threshold you can find their hot sauce line on the gift shop shelves. Getting too hot for you after that sauce, dog? You can sweeten things up and cool it down on the shelf right next door with a bottle of natural raw honey from Longnook Meadows Farm, located in, you guessed it, Truro. Speaking of dogs, let’s not forget Spike! Although hot sauce is definitely not his thing, grab a bag of Madison’s Cape Cod Adventure Dog Cookies (peanut butter oatmeal is the favorite) for your pooch! They’re on the gift shop shelves as well.
Now that you’ve toured a bit of the Truro Vineyards, let the dog have a treat on the front lawn. After all, he’s been patient while you shopped. And while you’re at it, grab a glass of wine for yourself, plop down in an Adirondack chair, and give a toast to our local Cape Cod artists and artisans. Cheers!
~ Tommy Dott is an innkeeper, restaurateur and award-winning food writer. He, his partner Ali, and their two Yorkies, “Jiminy Cricket” and “B.G.” live on Cape Cod.