By Doug Ireland
---- — SANDOWN — Wine produced in this tiny New Hampshire town soon will be available in Bay State stores.
That's just one indication of the growth Zorino Vineyards has experienced over the past decade.
When James Zanello purchased his Main Street property in 2004, he bought some grape vines so he could experiment with winemaking in his retirement.
He started out with 400 vines and founded Zorvino Vineyards, making 800 cases of wine that first year, according to Tom Zack, the company's wine director.
Now, Zorvino has 1,200 grape vines and produces 7,000 gallons a year, Zack said.
The vineyard also hosts parties and other functions on the 80-acre site, including 100 to 140 weddings a year, he said.
But making and selling approximately 30 varieties of wine is what Zorvino is best known for.
The company started selling two of its most popular wines, Fragole Z and Bacca Z, in New Hampshire liquor stores in June.
"We just really started, but they are doing pretty well for us," Zack said.
Zorvino has been selling wine in approximately 100 Granite grocery stores for about five years, but selling at the state's liquor stores is a boon for business, Zack said.
The small Sandown company received an even bigger boost two weeks ago when Zorvino received approval to sell its products in the Bay State, he said.
"We're excited to get into Massachusetts," Zack said. "We are continuing to grow."
Zorvino has received a winery shipment license from the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, but has yet to begin selling any wine in the state.
This week, Zack will begin touring Massachusetts to find wholesalers interested in selling Zorvino wines.
"I'm excited to get out there and start knocking on doors," he said.
With the new contracts, Zack said he hopes Zorvino will soon be selling at least 10,000 gallons of wine a year. He said Zorvino's dedicated team of six full-time and 15 part-time employees will help make that happen.
Yesterday, company employees were busy bottling after harvesting a large crop of grapes.
Zack said his Massachusetts license allows him to sell any type of wine to distributors.
"We can sell as many as we want," he said. "I'm going to offer them whatever they would like."
In New Hampshire, he can only sell two varieties to liquor stores and up to 15 to grocery stores, including Hannaford, Shaw's and Market Basket.
Zorvino has been a valuable asset to the community, according to Sandown Selectmen's Chairman Thomas Tombarello.
Tombarello said it's one of the largest businesses in town and attracts visitors to Sandown, providing an economic boost. He said the company's name is often mentioned when he is in Massachusetts.
"I've been here for 12 years and watched them grow, grow and grow," Tombarello said. "I consider it a class act. It's a really beautiful building and they have really good employees."
Tombarello said he frequently sees Zanello when he visits.
"You always see him out there digging and planting," he said.