Heritage Trail Winery, Lisbon CT
I stopped yesterday after not having been in several years. It was for sale, and not bustling like some of the other eastern CT wineries and it had gotten somewhat depressing. It was bought by Chef Harry Shwartz and he's made some great changes. It seems they're going to use the original building as a residence and are building a 2 story bldg that will be part tasting room and part cafe. Yesterday was gorgeous and we sat outside for our tasting - we chose the Cheese Pairing for Two - what a bargain!!! $17.50, and for that we got two tastings (6 wines) and a lovely cheese plate of local cheeses (from right down the road) as well as crackers, a bit of tapenade & hummus. The wines were really nice, especially the excellent chardonnay (and I'm not usually a chard fan). They said they hope to open the cafe in 3 wks but given the state of construction I can't see that happening, but I'll definitely be keeping my eyes open for that. Oh, they also serve gelato.
Also stopped at Sharpe Hill & Taylor Brooke wineries - two of my usual stops that were as good as ever. Ended w/dinner at 85 Main in Putnam. The asparagus leek soup and butternut squash ravioli (served w/haricot vert in a garlicky butter sauce) were both excellent. A couple of weeks ago I had a wonderful dish there at lunchtime....a buttercup squash stuffed w/shredded veggies and things, spiced in a somewhat sweet, vaguely Indian way. Delicious.
Sorry to revive an old post - I just think it's easier to keep topics together.
I went to Heritage Trail this past Saturday (5/23/09) with my parents, and while I enjoyed it, I didn't find it as rave-worthy as everyone else. Service was a major concern, and the food was good, not amazing.
Let me point out that about half-way through our time there, I overheard someone say that Chef Harry and Laurie were not there that day. Which I imagine explains a bit of the roughness of the day.
We (and all other groups) were greeted with "Table for lunch?" - we (and everyone I overheard) kind of stumbled over that - "umm, no, a wine tasting... you do that, right?" Apparently they are aiming for a more restaurant feel than wine tasting bar, but it was still awkward. I did plan on having wine then food, but once we said "wine tasting" we were treated like poor cousins (very Restaurant-Week feel, if you know what I mean). The hostess even took the menu away from me, saying she needed it for other tables.
We were told to find a table and someone would be right with us. "Right with us" was more than 15 minutes, as tables all around us were greeted, given menus, served wine, etc. A couple that came in after us left after 15 minutes because no one greeted them at all - I was tempted, but not with my parents there. Our wine server was very nice, once he finally came over, but obviously overwhelmed. Service was painfully slow the entire time.
We got the tasting/wine pairing - the tasting was 3 different tablespoon-size dabs of dip (not described to us) with pita, a cucumber-yogurt salad on spinach, and about 1.5 ounces of goat cheese. Most definitely not the quantities or selection described elsewhere in this thread.
We asked about the pizzetta of the day, and after long delay, were told there was no "chef's whim" but we could create whatever we wanted. We opted for the onion soup (great) and the cubano panini (not sure why they use bacon instead of ham?). (Would love to have tried the goat cheese-smoked chicken panini but the 'rents were choosing the food.)
The wines themselves were great - I enjoyed every one of them. The setting is lovely and I imagine the food can be quite good. But the service definitely needs some improvement. Not sure I'd go back - it's a 1.25 hour drive from my parent's house, and there are other wineries that seem happier to see and serve guests.
My mom and I went back for lunch on Tuesday--it was my mom's first visit and my first time ordering something other than cheese or dinner.
We were eyeing their whole wheat pizzettas--drawn to the part where it says something about "the chef's whim of the day." Chef Harry came out and talked to us a bit. Figuring his whim would be the way to go, we asked if he'd surprise us with a winning combination. He asked if there was anything we didn't like as a topping--my mom only said, "Sun-dried tomatoes--otherwise, we eat anything!" Pictured below is what we got--it was a thing of beauty and an excellent combination, too: shrimp, bacon, three types of cheese, pesto and roasted red peppers. Kind of a shrimp pesto casino! The pizzetta itself is a warm, crispy flatbread--hopefully you can see just how thin from the photos.
To start, Harry brought us out some caprese salad that he had "just thrown together and thought we'd like to try." They make their own fresh mozzarella--very creamy and delicious. We also split a wasabi goat cheese and chicken panini, which was also quite good and came with yet another side salad, but was honestly way too much food for two, especially since I knew dessert had to be part of the plan. We wrapped up the rest of the panini to take home. But then, dessert...millionaire's cake. This towering chocolate layer cake filled and topped with mousse was something else. Have you ever thought you couldn't possibly eat anything more, then started eating someting so good, you found the room? The cake was garnished with fresh strawberries, blueberries and grapes and dusted with powdered sugar. We are not millionaires, but felt as though we were!
They're working on an outside seating area that will have fire pits and a putting green and croquet...and this should all be complete in a month or so, just in time for the warmer weather. They plan to serve more casual fare outside. I can't wait!
For those of you who come to CT to go to Mohegan Sun, keep this spot (in the middle of nowhere) on your radar--it's only a few exits away off of I-395 and well worth the trip.
P.S. Here is a link to their menu--this doesn't include everything, but gives you an idea of some of their offerings;
Heritage Trail Vineyards
291 N Burnham Hwy, Lisbon, CT
We went again on Friday night. This was our third visit and the place simply does not disappoint. I'll focus on dessert this time since we didn't order anything different for dinner (it was excellent, just the same)...and the leftovers were a nice dinner on Saturday.
As a home-gelato maker, I have intense gelato envy for Scott's ability to crank the stuff out. Our gelato sampler was of mandarin orange, vanilla chai and chocolate. And they only use local whole milk with a touch of cream and no eggs (I asked)...man!
The lemon cake we shared was moist and delicious. Forgive the bite I took before I snapped the photo. I got carried away and forgot about the camera. ;)
They have a new white now--Quinebaug White--for spring. Cheers!
I must say that Harry and Laurie are two of the most incredible host's that you could ever order up. My wife Claudia and I stop in quite often and their menu is incredible. If you like the mac and cheese try his grilled cheese. Ay' Ya' Ya'. He makes the ordinary so unordinary. " I think he may be having a trio playing there on Sunday the 15th, in the afternoon. Maybe a nice after Valentine's Day treat.
Jane, I'm so glad I had read your recommendation for the newly renovated Heritage Trail Winery. We went on Saturday afternoon and wound up staying for dinner. The whole experience was so blissful, I just had to write a bit of a love letter here. Chef Harry Schwartz and his wife Laurie are fantastic hosts--very warm, welcoming and engaging. I felt like we were guests in their home for dinner. We started with the tasting/cheese pairing for two, which included (among other equally tasty offerings) a very interesting goat cheese marinated in whisky and wrapped in tobacco leaves and ended with their homemade chocolate gelato served alongside buttery pound cake drizzled with chocolate. I am a chocoholic and this stuff was fantastic--ultra dark chocolatey and rich--and I don't even usually care for chocolate ice cream! Loved their chardonnay. The Rochambeau Red was the perfect accompaniment to the braised beef brisket in a demi-glace of the same...served over winter vegetable risotto. I could think of nothing better to eat on such a cold winter night. My designated driver (!) raved about the smoked seafood chowder and told Laurie he'd like to bathe in it! He also enjoyed the "mussels of the day" in a garlicky wine sauce. Laurie brought out some of their creamy mac and cheese during the meal in little ramekins for us to sample. When Chef Harry popped out to see how we were enjoying the mac and cheese (along with the rest of the meal), I had already devoured mine and teased that my portion never reached the table. Moments later, another portion magically appeared. :) MOO. So I'm tipping the scales a bit heavier this weekend, but tipping my hat to Harry and Laurie for the lovely visit...'cause that's exactly what it felt like. And we can't wait to have dinner with our new friends again!