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When you think of New England, wine and winemaking aren’t the first things that come to mind. Sure, there are tons of microbreweries, but with few exceptions, the region isn’t known for its “terroir,” that is, the environmental factors that give wine grapes their distinctive character.

Elbridge “Brig” Leland II didn’t let a little thing like terroir stand in his way.  A native of North Andover, Leland wanted to create a destination on the farmland owned by his family since the 1600s, one that would be an asset to the community and bring people together to celebrate, learn, and relax.

His passion project, the boutique Marble Ridge Winery, has been open to the public for a few years, and is attracting guests eager to enjoy handcrafted, small-batch wines, celebrate special events, and luxuriate in tastefully appointed guest houses for a night, a weekend, or even longer.

Leland is the 10th-generation owner of land that once stretched from North Andover to Boxford. He grew up on the property, when it was home to dairy cows, crops, and horses. When he took control of it in 2020, he began renovating, turning malt barns, ice sheds, and dairy rooms into tasting venues and event spaces. He wanted to keep the farm aspect and decided a winery would be the ideal use for the land, fulfilling his desire to make the family land into a gathering place.

“Wine predates Jesus, it has been around forever,” he says. “I felt it was a great product to offer, and ultimately, it brings people together on this unique property.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Leland consulted with expert winemakers, built a state-of-the-art winery, and, using grapes grown in a certified-sustainable partner vineyard in Napa Valley, California, began with five varieties: sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, rosé, Riesling, and cabernet sauvignon. Another five varieties will be coming out this year, he said, and based on customer feedback, they will be clean, dry, and refreshing.

“I felt the need to make a truly exceptional, world-class wine,” he says. “If you start with great ingredients, and you’ve got a great process overseen by master winemakers who have made their careers making wine, then our end product should be world class. So far, the feedback has been exceptional.”

The goal is to remain a boutique winery, Leland says. They bottle about 3,000 cases a year to sell direct to customers, either onsite or through a membership.

“We’ll never be big, so we decided to just embrace it and focus on the customer experience,” he says.

The small-scale operation allows Marble Ridge to build relationships with customers and focus on their experiences by hosting wine tastings and private parties, through special events such as grape stomping and winemaking instruction, and through the guesthouse experience.

Other than a few hotels on the highway, Leland recognized that there were limited options for people coming to the area to visit family or friends. In response to that need, he remodeled spaces on the property into luxurious guesthouses, featuring king-sized beds and full kitchens, and mixing modern and antique furnishings that celebrate the family’s connection to the property. A cozy bungalow’s glassed-in porch opens to an in-ground pool with outdoor seating.

The smallest unit was once Leland’s great-grandmother’s art studio, and it celebrates the connection with her original art, a stained-glass window commissioned by his grandfather, and original drawings by Jack Frost, brother of poet Robert Frost. The furnishings are modern, cozy, and welcoming, and complimentary wine tastings are included in every stay.

“We pay attention to every detail,” Leland says.

Leland is planning to expand the operation, but slowly, and with an eye toward enhancing the guest experience. There are plans to grow the vineyard, adding more grape varieties, although he does not expect it to become the core of the winemaking business. Another barn will be renovated, allowing for more events on site.

“When Covid ended, people wanted opportunities to get together with people they care about,” he says. “They really missed that connection, and they wanted experiences. They wanted something away from the phone and computer and that’s what we focus on—great spaces for people to come together.”

11 Marbleridge Road, North Andover, 804-801-4114,