Holiday Hit List: All The Gifts That Are Fit To Give
By Amy Krzanik
“Artisanal” is a word thrown around quite a bit these days, but in our region it truly means something. It means taking the time to create, bottle and label your scents by hand, as does Hudson’s 2 Note Perfumery. Or, like Goshen’s Milk House Chocolates, knowing the name of the cow who supplied the cream for your sea salt caramels. Whether you shop online or on foot, we hope you’ll appreciate the fact that RI has gathered together some great gift ideas and a list of local shops, wineries and roasteries where our neighbors still take the time to make things by hand.
Artisanal Libations & Desserts
Harvest Spirits Farm Distillery
The local distillery is world-renowned for its Core Vodka, Cornelius Applejack, Black Raspberry Vodka, and three flavored brandies: peach, cherry and rare pear. Stop by for a tasting on weekends, and follow the farm on facebook to see what delicious cocktails the crew is stirring up (Hot Cherry Toddies!) and where. (Prices vary by shop; see website for all locations where Harvest Spirits are sold.)
Golden Harvest Farms
3074 US Route 9
The Miranda family’s handcrafted vintages ($14.99-$36.99) are produced using traditional European methods passed down through generations, combined with modern scientific advances. Come visit the picturesque vineyard, bring friends, and enjoy one of their award-winning wines. Check the vineyard’s website for special events like live music, specialized tastings and the very popular Lushes Ladies Night.
42 Ives Road
Owners Christian and Donna Hanson produce ultra-premium wines from grapes grown by world-class California vineyards. The bottles start at $14 and run up to $90 for the company’s favorite, the Brakelight Reserve Syrah. With hip labels detailing the interesting, if not completely true, tales of how each wine originated, any of these bottles is sure to be a conversation starter. Tasting room is open weekends from 1-5 p.m.
502 East Street (rear of building)
The Hudson Standard
The company’s versatile bitters and shrubs — a blend of vinegar, fruit, herbs and a sweetener that makes great mixers for cocktails and stands alone in seltzer as a sophisticated non-alcoholic beverage — are the perfect gift for the creative mixologists in your life. The three current shrub flavors are Apple-Coriander-Maple, Pear-Honey-Ginger, and Strawberry-Rhubarb; and the bitters come in Spruce Shoot, Ginger and Celery flavors. ($15 for bitters; $22 for shrubs; $60 for a three-bitters gift set). Find them locally at Rubiner’s in Great Barrington, the Hillsdale General Store, Olde Hudson and Valley Variety in Hudson, and “on tap” at Hudson Food Studio.
341-1/2 Warren Street
Assembly Coffee Roasters
Julia and Thomas Doyle founded ACR as a true micro-roastery, roasting specialty coffees in small batches so as to give themselves the flexibility to work with clients to create custom blends. Find them online, at Guido’s, Dotties’s Coffee Lounge and local farmers markets, and at their shop offering tastings.
814 East Street
Six Depot Roastery & Café
Although this local cafe roasts its own beans by hand and sells regional products such as honey, olive oil and cheese in its “microshop,” owners Flavio and Lisa bring years of experience from time spent in Argentina, Italy, India and NYC. So you can trust their taste in organic, sustainable and fair trade coffee ($10-$11 per 10 oz), imported loose leaf teas (price varies by selection), and carefully selected salts from around the world ($8-$13 per 8 oz). Another thing that’s carefully selected: the live music and theater, art exhibits, film screenings and other well-attended events the cafe offers each month.
6 Depot Street
West Stockbridge, MA
Thorncrest Farm, LLC/Milk House Chocolates
Few chocolatiers can boast that they know the name of the cow the milk in their milk chocolates came from. But Thorncrest’s “single cow” origin chocolates are created from the fresh milk, cream and butter of on-site cows who are fed the finest, sweetest hay and natural feeds. Now that’s artisanal! Holiday favorites include Cabernet Sauvignon Dark Chocolate Truffles (10 for $38.25) and “Daydreams” Dark & Milk Sea Salt Caramels (12 for $24).
280 Town Hill Road
Housewares, Candles & Scents
The premier candle from FINCH, “Autumn/Winter Scent 1,” conjures wintry nights by the fire, the combination of burnt clove, cinnamon bark, vanilla and sweet bourbon. The 100% soy candle ($58) is the first in a series of signature scents from the shop and comes housed in a reusable, handmade porcelain vessel by local designer Dana Brandwein. While you’re in the store, check other housewares by Dana and her husband, Daniel Oates. And follow the link above to get a behind-the-scenes look at the candle-making process.
613 Warren Street
There’s always something sprouting up at Pergola, from artists’ collections like John Derian’s decoupage decor (price varies by size), to carefully selected potted plants, unique garden finds both new and vintage and beautiful botanical books. It’s worth a visit just to view the shop’s magical and inspiring displays and the waterfall out back.
7 East Shore Road
New Preston, CT
2 Note Perfumery
Carolyn Mix and Darcy Doniger craft small batches of all their perfumes and bath and body care products. Comparable to an artisan bakery, they mix, bottle and label each product by hand. Their high standards, use of organic ingredients and attention to detail make it a joy to bask in 2 Note’s butters, balms, salves and scents. Stop in and smell what you’ve been missing.
255 Warren Street
Paper Trail is one of those stores that can fit into any category on this list, as it offers eclectic gifts for everyone. Letter writers will love the wide array of stationery and the brass envelope seals ($12-$14, with wax sold separately, $4.50), but the store carries a lot of other giftable goodies, such as watches, wallets and scarves for men and women, as well as jewelry, art, fragrances, linens and much more. Stop into the store or check out the website where you can search items arranged by type or price.
6423 Montgomery Street, #2
Litchfield County resident and artist Ron Norsworthy, known to some as the founder and lead designer of the luxury linens line N•HOME, will add to his line of framed “Rorschach” silver leaf art this season with hand-poured candles. The jumbo pine-scented candles ($68) sit in silver ceramic holders and come prepared for giving in their own gift bags. The limited edition Ink Blot Prints are $398.
9 East Shore Road
New Preston, CT
Exotic finds from foreign lands, garden decor, apparel for men, women and children, and carefully curated vintage and contemporary selections for the home are all in one place at Punch. For men, the store carries Hunter Boots, leather gloves, silk ties, cashmere scarves and cufflinks. Women can shop for fisherman’s sweaters, country chic outerware by La Chasse Millbrook, Not Your Daughter’s Jeans and basics by A’nue Ligne.
3262 Franklin Avenue
Kiehl’s + Norman Rockwell
This year’s Kiehl’s Greatest Hits Collection ($45) comes wrapped in the iconic illustrations of Stockbridge’s native son Norman Rockwell. Enjoy all of your favorite products — Creme de Corps Moisturizer, Midnight Recovery Concentrate and others — and do good at the same time. 100% of Kiehl’s net profits up to $100,000 from the US sales of this Limited Edition set will support Feeding America.
Clothing & Accessories
Here’s a chance for you to buy local and go global at the same time, with Derin’s luxury bath towels, richly patterned bags and coordinating accessories, and original jewelry straight from Turkish artisans who’ve been perfecting their craft for decades.
7578 North Broadway, Suite 9
Red Hook, NY
Designed by painter, fiber artist and IS183 teacher Linda Clayton, these are “not your grandmother’s reading glasses.” Colorful, unique, sturdy and affordable ($59), these readers also glow gently in the dark so you’ll never have to search blindly for them on the nightstand. They’re siliconized and somewhat pliable and can be found on Clayton’s etsy store and in shops around town, including Sweet Brook Farm in Williamstown (snag some alpaca socks while you’re there), JWS Art Supplies in Great Barrington and Vlada Boutique in Stockbridge.
Here’s your one-stop-shop for “buying local” for everyone on your list. The shop (across the way from Chocolate Springs, yum) carries custom-order bag and leather goods from owner Elizabeth Powell; screen-printed gifts from Molly and Aurelian de Saint Andre’s trio of companies: Moho Desgins, Petit Pilou and Berkshire Four Poster; jewelry by Anni Maliki ($48 and up), Wendy Krag O’Neil ($98 and up) and James Kennedy ($175 and up) among others, upcycled wine bottle glasses and tree bark lamps from Warren Barber, hand-knit scarves, home goods and a whole lot more.
55 Pittsfield Road
Privet House’s little sister is an ever-evolving space that celebrates different brands, designers and artisans each month. For its third brand collaboration, the concept store selected Shinola, makers of modern, handcrafted watches, bicycles, leather goods and journals. Shinola’s full suite of products is available in the store until the end of December.
13 East Shore Road
New Preston, CT
Books By Local Authors
The Commons by Susan Dworkin
Author of the New York Times best-selling memoir The Nazi Officer’s Wife, Susan Dworkin has penned a thrilling new novel, The Commons, about a future society facing a catastrophic threat to the food supply. Read an excerpt on her website, then head to your local bookshop to pick up your own copy.
Organic: Farmers and Chefs of the Hudson Valley by Francesco Mastalia
Photographer Francesco Mastalia took more than 100 portraits of the farmers and chefs of the region, and allowed them to describe in their own words their philosophy about what it means to grow and live organically and sustainably. ($49.95)
Vegetarian Dinner Parties: 150 Meatless Meals Good Enough to Serve to Company by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough
The local authors extraordinaire explore the culinary possibilities of vegetables, so you’ll know what to prepare for that vegetarian on your guest list (about half of the recipes are suitable for vegans, as well). Each recipe is complemented by a wine or drink pairing to make your meal foolproof, and even covers dessert by way of warm vegan donuts. ($32.50)
World Order by Henry Kissinger
Kent resident Henry Kissinger draws on his experience as a polished statesman and reveals his analysis of our 21st-century challenges, namely, how to build a shared international order in a world of violent conflict and ideological extremism. ($36)
A Chef’s Life: Farm-to-Table Cooking in the Berkshires by Michael Ballon
Castle Street Cafe’s owner and chef celebrates the Great Barrington restaurant’s 25 years in business with a look back at past menus, a look ahead at food trends, and, of course, plenty of time-tested recipes.
Capturing Connecticut 2015 Calendar by Lynne M. Anstett
Photographer Lynne Anstett of Imagery Art Works has created both a useful gift and a beautiful keepsake. Spend an entire year in the lovely Litchfield County with these calendars that come in a 5x7 size and a traditional flip wall size of 9x12, as well as an 11x14 wall mounted and 5x7 desk style versions. Find them at The Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot, The Artisans Guild in Norfolk and The Salisbury General Store.