There may not be a bad view on the entirety of Gouveia Vineyards' land. Perched atop Whirlwind Hill Road in Wallingford, the 140-acre winery offers panoramic vistas of rolling hills and vines, a tranquil pond and cinematic sunsets.
The Gouveia family purchased the property in 1999 and opened the tasting room in 2004, says founder Joe Gouveia, who grew up in a small village in Portugal and he said he would look forward to the end of the cold, damp winters when residents would begin tending to the vineyard crops. Since those were the first crops to get attention, it was a sure sign of the spring season.
"Things were alive," he says. "It kind of stayed with me all my life." He chose to build his winery in Wallingford, where he had settled, become an American citizen and raised his family.
Gouveia envisioned a space where people would gather with loved ones, sharing food and wine and conversation. Now the winery is a popular year-round destination, as groups congregate around picnic tables in warm weather and around the tasting room's fireplace in wintertime.
"We're centrally located, we've got beautiful views, beautiful sunsets, so there's no price on that," Gouveia says. "I'm just lucky."
Each fall, the Gouveia family turns its annual harvest into a celebration, welcoming as many as 400 volunteers to the property to help pick grapes and treating them to lunch and entertainment, including Portuguese music and dancers.
FEATURED AND NOTEWORTHY WINES: Gouveia produces two types of chardonnay: one aged in French, American and Hungarian oak barrels and another in steel. A dry pinot grigio is a blend of a single estate-grown varietal and grapes sourced from California. Semi-sweet wines include an estate-grown seyval blanc and the signature Whirlwind Rose, which blends seyval blanc, St. Croix and traminette. Wines on the sweeter side include an estate-grown cayuga white, the Stone House White with estate-grown seyval blanc and vignoles and muscat, blending estate and California grapes.
Reds also blend estate and California varieties, like a cabernet franc, merlot and pinot noir, and its most popular wine, the Stone House Red, is a mix of cabernet sauvignon, zinfandel and merlot. Gouveia grows a few types of grapes that are more suited to California climates, Gouveia says, and because quality varies from year to year, they'll supplement their estate yield with grapes from the west.
Gouveia's Chocolate Epiphany Reserve, made from estate-grown frontenac, is described as a "special rich and velvety port-style wine" with chocolate essence. The specialty wine is available in $3 tastes.
FOOD: Gouveia encourages guests to bring their own food and picnic outdoors or in the expansive tasting room, but the winery also offers a limited supply of cheese, fruit and meat platters, priced $8 to $10.
PRICING: A tasting of five Gouveia wines is $12, and the price includes an etched souvenir glass. Wines by the glass are $8. Bottles are $18 to $35.
TASTING ROOM HOURS: Gouveia Vineyards is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. After Dec. 31, Gouveia switches to winter hours.
Gouveia Vineyards is at 1339 Whirlwind Hill Road, in Wallingford. 203-265-5526 and gouveiavineyards.com.