Daycation: An excellent vintage - Exploring Connecticut’s wine country
By Jessica Grabowicz - ReminderNews
Statewide - posted Thu., Jul. 19, 2012
When you think of America's wine country, it’s most likely you think of California’s Napa Valley, or Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Connecticut probably doesn’t spring to mind. Surprisingly, Connecticut has a very mild climate – perfect for growing grapes. The state is able to grow grapes for Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Riesling, Seval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Cayuga, Saint Croix, Vignoles and Foch wines. Some wineries produce sparkling wines, ciders and fruit wines made from pears, apples, peaches, apples and blueberries. With the passing of the Connecticut Winery Act in 1978, commercial wineries were permitted in the state. By 1988 the Connecticut Wine Trail was established. Today there are 32 wineries that are part of the wine trail, and it keeps growing.
No matter where you are in the state, there is at least one winery within a 45-minute drive from you. That’s a lot closer than California. You can really make a wonderful day trip enjoying the nice weather and scenery throughout the state. Each winery has a tasting room, where you can try all the wines they offer. You can also stock up with your favorites, perfect for hostess or holiday gifts.
Most of the vineyards allow you to walk among the vines and enjoy a picnic, or invite you to join them in a guided tour. Nearly all host their own events there as well. Priam Vineyards in Colchester hosts its “unWINEd” concert series that runs every Friday night from now through September, where you can enjoy live music, great food and wine at sunset. Or enjoy a day with that special someone with wine-paired dinners at Haight-Brown Vineyard in Litchfield for their “Spanish Tapas at the Vineyard.” These are just two of many events these wineries have to offer, in addition to the traditional wine tastings.
Regardless of what you’re looking for, Connecticut’s wineries have something for everybody. Prizes offered by the Connecticut Farm Wine Development Council Passport Program can even extend your travels. Stop by your local winery and pick up this year’s passport. Have it stamped at 16 participating wineries and submit it for a raffle to win valuable prizes that include two two-week trips for two to Spain, a chauffeured limo for eight people to visit Connecticut wineries, an overnight get-away at the Courtyard by Marriott in Norwich or a certificate for two bottles of wine from a Connecticut winery. The deadline to submit your passport for this year’s raffle is Nov. 11, so start sipping your way along the trail.
If traveling from vineyard to vineyard is not your thing, you might enjoy spending the day at the Goshen Fairgrounds for the Connecticut Wine Festival on July 28-29. There, you can sample wines and locally-produced specialty foods, enjoy live music and browse booths set up by local crafters. Advance tickets are $25 and are available until July 22. Designated Driver and Under 21 tickets are $10, and children 6 and under are admitted free of charge. Tickets at the festival are $30. For more information go to www.ctwine.com/index.php?wine_festival.
Whether you’re a wine connoisseur or just love a great glass of wine at the end of a long day at work, you don’t have to wait for that dream vacation to Sonoma County to find a great bottle of wine. All you have to do is take a step out of your own back door. And at the same time you are enjoying great wine, you will also be supporting local businesses.
To find a local vineyard near you, go to the Connecticut Department of Agriculture's website www.ct.gov/doag/cwp/view.asp?a=3260&q=399108
Connecticut Vineyards (listed alphabetically)
• Arrigoni Winery, Portland
• Bishop’s Orchards & Winery, Guilford
• Cassidy Hill Vineyard, Coventry
• Chambard Vineyards, Clinton
• Connecticut Valley Winery, New Hartford
• Dalice Elizabeth Winery, Preston
• Digrazia Vineyards, Brookfield
• Gouveia Vineyards, Wallingford
• Haight-Brown Vineyards, Litchfield
• Heritage Trail Vineyards, Lisbon
• Holmberg Orchards and Winery, Gales Ferry
• Hopkins Vineyard , New Preston (in Warren, CT)
• Jerram Winery, New Hartford
• Johnathan Edwards Winery, North Stonington
• Jones Winery, Shelton
• Land of Nod Winery, East Canaan
• Lost Acres Vineyard, North Granby
• Maugle Sierra Vineyards, Ledyard
• McLaughlin Vineyards, Sandy Hook
• Miranda Vineyard, Goshen
• Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery, Wallingford
• Priam Vineyards, Colchester
• Rosdal Farms & Vineyards, Simsbury
• Saltwater Farm Vineyard, Stonington
• Savino Vineyards, Woodbridge
• Sharpe Hill Vineyard, Pomfret
• Stonington Vineyards, Stonington
• Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen
• Taylor Brooke Winery, Woodstock
• Walker Road Vineyards, Woodbury
•.White Silo Farm & Winery, Sherman