The Wineries Of Connecticut
This season, we're providing a guide to what you'll find at these Connecticut wine destinations: signature vintages and special releases, live entertainment, gourmet food options, and a few surprises (wine slushies, anyone?) We will feature a different winery every two weeks.
Preston Ridge Vineyard sits high atop a 60-acre property, with a patio overlooking miles of Connecticut landscape.
Preston Ridge Vineyards: Comfortable Luxury In The Countryside
- 100 Miller Road
- Fri: 1-9pm
- Sat, Sun: 11am-4:30pm
- 100 Miller Road, Preston, 860-383-4278, Website
- Fri: 1-9pm, Sat, Sun: 11am-4:30pm
Wine lovers Cara and Andrew Sawyer spent time traveling and visiting wine regions in the United States and abroad, daydreaming about the possibility of opening their own winery someday. They talked about plans, jotting down notes on a bar napkin, and brought up the idea to Andrew's parents "half-jokingly" one holiday, Cara says. "Then we started getting property listings." With the help of their parents, the Sawyers sought land for a potential vineyard in Connecticut's southeast corner, capitalizing on the location close to a cluster of wineries in Stonington and Ledyard. In 2008, the year they married, they purchased the 61-acre property that would become Preston Ridge Vineyards, planting six acres of vines on the land that once supported a dairy farm. More ...
About 90 percent of Sunset Meadow’s wines are estate-grown, reflecting a desire to have a “true Connecticut vineyard.”
Chocolate Pairings And Merlita Slushies
- 599 Old Middle Street
- Sun,Mon,Thu: 11am-5pm
- Fri,Sat: 11am-6pm
- 599 Old Middle Street, Goshen, 860-201-4654, Website
- Sun,Mon,Thu: 11am-5pm, Fri,Sat: 11am-6pm
It's a family affair at Sunset Meadow Vineyards, which opened its Goshen tasting room in 2008. George Motel, who co-owns the winery with his wife, Judy, studied viticulture and enology at the University of California-Davis as he developed the vineyard property. His son, George, serves as vineyard manager, and the Motels' son-in-law, Chris Chichester, is Sunset Meadow's retail manager. Sunset Meadow is a popular stop among the Connecticut Wine Trail's Litchfield Hills wineries, known for its rolling acres of vines and enviable sunset views, a wide variety of estate-grown wines and a few treats, like chocolate and wine pairings and frozen merlot cocktails. More ...
Staehly Farms Winery's Pomodoro wine, made from tomatoes.
Staehly Farm: Wines From Apples, Plums, Even Tomatoes, But No Grapes
- 278 Town Street
- East Haddam
- Fri,Sat: 12pm-6pm
- Sun: 12pm-4pm
- 278 Town Street, East Haddam, 860-873-9774, Website
- Fri,Sat: 12pm-6pm, Sun: 12pm-4pm
Visitors to Staehly Farm are often stumped by the East Haddam winery's most unusual wine. Is that a taste of cantaloupe? Is there some grapefruit in there? Where does it get all that acidity? The wine's name, Pomodoro, drops a clue. Yes, it's a tomato-based wine, an Old World-style family recipe. Tasting notes describe it as rich and robust, with flavors of apricot and smoky bacon, and its distinctive makeup earned it a double gold medal in the 2016 Big E Northeast Gold Wine Competition. "I think I had 1 in 100 [tasters] who could place it as tomato," said Kevin Staehly, who operates the farm winery with his parents, Christopher and Gail. More ...
The estate-grown cabernet franc, a medium-bodied red, features “complex toasted oak notes with a backbone of ripe berries and spice.”
30 Years Of European-Style, 'Easy-Drinking' Table Wines
- 523 Taugwonk Road
- Sun-Fri: 11am-5pm
- Sat: 11am-7pm
- 523 Taugwonk Road, Stonington, 860-535-1222, Website
- Sun-Fri: 11am-5pm, Sat: 11am-7pm
Stonington Vineyards, the state's third-oldest winery, celebrates the big 3-0 this summer. The coastal winery was founded by owners Nick and Happy Smith in 1987, and winemaker Mike McAndrew, who joined the business in July of that year, is still at the helm, crafting its European-style table wines. About 40 years ago, East Coast wine was virtually "unexplored, except for the Finger Lakes," McAndrew said. "No one was really growing grapes in Connecticut, or Rhode Island, or Massachusetts. A little on Long Island, but not much. We were all just trying to figure it out." More ...
The Lost Acres property was an apple orchard several decades ago, so when husband and wife owners Kevin Riggott and Michelle Niedermeyer bought the property in 2008, they had some confidence that grapevines would grow.
'A Tiny Slice Of Heaven' In North Granby
- 80 Lost Acres Road
- North Granby
- Fri,Sat: 12pm-6pm
- Sun: 12pm-5pm
- 80 Lost Acres Road, North Granby, 860-324-9481, Website
- Fri,Sat: 12pm-6pm, Sun: 12pm-5pm
Lost Acres Vineyard in North Granby was an apple orchard several decades ago, so when husband and wife owners Kevin Riggott and Michelle Niedermeyer bought the property in 2008, they had some confidence that grapevines would grow. They cleared the overgrown space, built a tasting room and opened to the public in 2011. The couple was looking for an agricultural business to run together, and Riggott was a hobby winemaker, so a vineyard made sense, Niedermeyer says. She calls the bucolic rural winery "a little tiny slice of heaven." FEATURED AND NOTEWORTHY WINES: Lost Acres Vineyard grows 5 acres of white wine grapes, and produces red wines from grapes purchased from California. The top seller is the Wedge White, a dry white blend of cayuga white, traminette, seyval blanc, vidal blanc and riesling grapes; and the Clemons Springs, a dry white blend of estate grapes, is said to be an "ideal pairing" with grilled chicken or vegetables. More ...
Brignole offers a spread of wine-friendly snacks from its kitchen: charcuterie and cheese ($7 each or $25-35 for boards), panini ($9 to $13), flatbreads ($13 to $18) and quick bites ($9 to $15) like hummus, artichoke dip, prosciutto arugula wraps and pancetta-wrapped dates stuffed with blue cheese. Guests are also welcome to bring their own food, but no outside beverages are allowed.
From Its Signature Sunset To Seasonal Slushies
- 103 Hartford Ave.
- East Granby
- Wed-Sat: 1pm-7pm
- Sun: 12pm-5pm
- 103 Hartford Ave., East Granby, 860-653-9463, Website
- Wed-Sat: 1pm-7pm, Sun: 12pm-5pm
East Granby's Brignole Vineyards is one of the newer additions to Connecticut's farm winery scene, marking its first anniversary this June. Winemaking started as a hobby for the Brignole family and evolved into a full-service operation, says owner Tim Brignole, whose four adult children are all involved in the business. Now visitors arrive to find a palatial, California-style tasting room featuring granite bar countertops, ample seating, a cozy fireplace and a large outdoor deck overlooking rows of vines. FEATURED AND NOTEWORTHY WINES: The winery's top seller is Sunset, a special select red blend of Barbera and Vincent grapes, that Brignole describes as "very comparable to a big cabernet." He likens the White Tip Heron, made from 100 percent Cayuga grapes, to a pinot grigio-style dry white. Estate-grown wines include the Red Tail house red, the Red Dragon vintner's reserve, and Crossbred red blend. More ...
Haight-Brown’s tasting room offers meat and cheese plates, as well as a market with crackers, jams and more on weekends.
CT's Oldest Winery
- 29 Chestnut Hill Road
- Mon-Thurs: 12pm-5pm
- Fri, Sun: 12pm-6pm, Sat: 12pm-6:30pm
- 29 Chestnut Hill Road, Litchfield, 860-567-4045, Website
- Mon-Thurs: 12pm-5pm, Fri, Sun: 12pm-6pm, Sat: 12pm-6:30pm
Connecticut's oldest winery is also a haven for turophiles. Visitors to Haight-Brown Vineyard can expect to find artisan cheeses from across the globe — creamy and robust English Stilton, Spanish Manchego, even a soft and buttery Camembert from nearby Arethusa Farm Dairy — ready to pair accordingly with the Litchfield winery's varietals. "We're really into cheese here," says Amy Senew, who bought the winery from its founder, Sherman Haight, in 2007 and now co-owns it with Jacques Muratori. "We try to have lots of cheeses from around the world, and educate people on cheese as much as wine." More ...
Connecticut chardonnay is the number-one seller at the winery, followed by its own pinot gris.
Jonathan Edwards: A Napa-Style Winery With New England Charm
- 74 Chester Main Road
- North Stonington
- Daily: 11am-5pm
- 74 Chester Main Road, North Stonington, 860-535-0202, Website
- Daily: 11am-5pm,
Jonathan Edwards Winery in North Stonington calls itself "bicoastal," fusing New England charm with Napa style. In the late 1990s, Jonathan Edwards, a speech pathologist, was considering a career change at the time his father, Robert, a chemical engineer, was heading into retirement. Jonathan was inspired by a friend who had started a brewery in western Massachusetts, and approached his father about a possible new business venture. "We wanted to manufacture a product together and do something with our hands," he says. They quickly decided that product would be wine and spent time in Napa Valley, connecting with wine industry figures, buying grapes and fermenting them at a custom crush winemaking facility. More ...
Holmberg’s winery, which is open for tastings from May to November, is one of the newer operations of this fourth generation farm. It’s wine crafted with estate apples gets a sweet and tart punch from cranberries.
Holmberg Orchards: Wine, Cider And Corn-Maze Tastings
- 12 Orchard Drive
- Gales Ferry
- Sat, Sun: noon-5pm
- 12 Orchard Drive, Gales Ferry, 860-464-7305, Website
- Sat, Sun: noon-5pm,
Last year, the fourth-generation farmers at Holmberg Orchards had an idea: What if they combined two of the most popular fall activities at their Gales Ferry farm for a 21-plus experience? On a lark, siblings Russell and Amy Holmberg, whose great-grandparents originally purchased the 150-acre farm in 1896, decided to host a "grown-up" adventure, placing wine and cider-tasting stations throughout the property's intricate corn maze and encouraging visitors to find them all. The team pulled together the activity in about a week's time, and two Friday-night events sold out quickly, leaving visitors looking eagerly to 2017's schedule. The corn maze returns this season with dates on four consecutive weekends: Aug. 25 and 26 and Sept. 1, 2, 8, 9 and 15. The Holmberg family is gearing up for another busy fall season, as visitors will soon flock to the farm for apple picking, wine tastings, tractor rides and cider doughnuts. More ...