LEEDS — Situated in a picturesque vineyard, Willows Awake Winery features farm-to-fork dining and several varieties of wines made on-site.

Visitors can choose from fresh pizzas, salads, sandwiches, specials and more while dining inside, on the porch, or at the tables spread out in the lawn. The restaurant also hosts a full service bar with the winery’s own selection of red and white wines, as well as beer, spirits and mixed drinks.

The restaurant serves lunch and dinner Thursday through Saturday and a Sunday brunch.

Willows Awake sources most of its ingredients locally, buying beef, lamb and pork from a nearby butcher, fresh produce from the Amish community and grape juice from Boothby’s Orchard in Livermore.

“We feel strongly that we are an agricultural enterprise with a restaurant,” owner Tony Lyons said. “If we’re true agriculture, then we really need to support agriculture. So it just made sense for us to offer the freshest, most local ingredients on a menu that we possibly could.”

Aiming for a modern farm aesthetic, Willows Awake is spacious and elegant, with wood shelves cut from the pine forest on site.

The restaurant has tables for small groups, but also a private space upstairs for modest events.

Lyons deliberately built the restaurant on a snowmobile trail, setting aside a space in the back for visitors to hang their gear while they grab a bite to eat.

Lyons said he was intrigued by the cold hardy varieties of grapes cultivated by the University of Minnesota. After attending a convention to learn more, he planted eight varieties on his farm in Auburn.

Realizing he could start his own vineyard and winery in Maine, he and his family planted the first acre of vines at Willows Awake in 2017. By the end of 2018, he had planted more than 5,000 vines.

These vines have not matured enough to produce grapes, although he hopes to have his first harvest next season. In the meantime, Lyons purchases grape juice from Boothby’s Orchard, which he uses to create his red and white wines.

The white wines are particularly popular, he said. His personal favorites are Rustic Romance, a red, and Spring Peeper, a white.

Opened in late June, Lyons said the restaurant was the next logical step for his business. In addition to the restaurant and tasting room, Lyons also hosts events at Willows Awake, including bridal showers, weddings and anniversaries.

Couples can also spend the night in the bridal suit or winemakers apartment.

“It just makes sense for us to be able to diversify what we were doing with having a winery, a tasting room and a restaurant,” he said. “(Our vision was) to create a destination so people could come and enjoy a new agricultural enterprise.”


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