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Connecticut Wine Trail

I should also add....the newish winery just west of Foxwoods - Maugle Sierra - has some very nice red wines.

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  1. So glad to see you back here in the land of chow. ;) I'll keep the new winery on my radar. Meantime, did you ever make it to Tastings?

    1. Maugle Sierra is great! We've purchased their Saint Croix which is a great red. I understand, from our visit last fall, that they plan to expand this year to a larger tasting room.
      Oh, and the Esencia...divine!!

      1. Maugle Sierra--very interesting. Always fun to try someplace new. We liked the Ledyard Sunset Red (estate grown St. Croix wine with Cabernet Franc) and the Esencia. Really nice call on that one, bakinggirl. Being able to pick out the chocolate notes that the barrel imparted was REALLY unique and it must be INSANE with chocolate. We'll find out soon (we bought one of each)!

        Stopped back at Tastings in Mystic to split a sandwich while in that neck of the woods as the Maugle Sierra tastings had us a bit abuzz having had light breakfasts. This time we shared a turkey club. It was perfect as we had dinner plans and didn't want to overdo it at lunch. I would highly recommend a stop at Tastings if anyone is visiting Stonington Vineyards or Maugle Sierra. You can do takeout, too, so that would be perfect for MS where they encourage BYOP (picnic)!

        2 Replies
        1. re: kattyeyes

          Thanks for posting the bit on Tastings - we have yet to get down there...although with tourist season practically upon us I guess we'd best get moving!

          1. re: bakinggirl

            You're welcome. It would be more helpful if I posted a link to the restaurant's menu, so here 'tis:
            http://www.awineexperience.com/

            Here's a link to the original thread where I first learned about Tastings (thanks, JaneRI, Joltingjoey et al!):
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5799...

            I am sure this place will be BANANAS in the summertime, so by all means, get there soon and beat the rush! The food is really delicious and exploring the wines with your wine card is a fun/interesting way to spend an afternoon or evening.

            -----
            Tastings
            4 Hendel Dr, Stonington, CT 06378

        2. Just got an e-mail from Gary and Gloria at Priam Vineyards in Colchester with the following info:

          "Ct Wine Trail Passports are available this weekend. Just visit 14 of the 26 wineries in CT by Nov. 8, 2009 and get it stamped, for a chance to win one of two 13 night trips to Spain or a weekend getaway at the Norwich Marriot Courtyard. Good luck to everyone!"

          So, ladies and gentlemen, get ready to start collecting stamps in your passports! Cheers!

          http://ctwine.com/

          -----
          Priam Vineyards
          11 Shailor Hill Rd, Colchester, CT

          1. I didn't know that Tastings does Takeout. That's a great idea for when we finally head out to visit some of the Mystic-area vineyards. We've visited 10 wineries already this year although only 8 stamps as our trips to Gouveia and Chamard were prior to the Passports being available.

            I have to say that, overall, I've been very happy with the quality of the wines we've tried. While I haven't really found a red that I'd consider purchasing, we've purchased several white, blush and dessert wines. I'll try to post my thoughts later tonight on those we've visited this year:

            Jerram
            Ct Valley
            Haight-Brown
            Hopkins
            White Silo
            DiGrazia
            McLaughlin
            Jones
            Gouveia
            Chamard

            Would love to see others' opinions as well.

            18 Replies
            1. re: bcsuka

              I, too, have been very happy overall with the wines we've tried. I think you'll change your mind about reds when you get to Jonathan Edwards and Sharpe Hill (make a reservation here for lunch or dinner, you will thank me later). I haven't been this year *yet* but that will change soon. My designated driver (!) is especially fond of one of the reds from Heritage Trail (can't think of the name right now and their site is down--there's Rochambeau, which I like and the other...you will know when you go).

              HERITAGE TRAIL VINEYARD:
              Used to be my least favorite before Harry and Laurie took over. It's a completely different--and wonderful--experience now. The wines are now definitely worth the trip and their food is delicious, too. I am a huge fan of their chardonnay (not to mention their gelato, pizzetta, etc.). Their site appears to be down at the moment, but here's a link. I've included reviews of their food from this board:
              http://www.heritagetrail.com/
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/567711
              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/606130

              MAUGLE SIERRA:
              http://www.mauglesierravineyards.com/
              As others mentioned here, the Esencia de St. Croix should NOT be missed. Here's a description from their site: "Our Ledyard Estate Grown St. Croix wine is triple fermented and aged for years in toasted American Oak Barrels delivering smooth creamy, blackberry, plum, currant fruit, and Chocolaty flavors. Best served AS Dessert or as an aperitif for that Special Occasion!!! Price per Bottle - $40"

              As you can see from the front page of their site, this would be a lovely place to bring a picnic lunch.

              WHITE SILO:
              I am overdue for a trip here. I can think of few more perfect things to do on a hot, summer day than take a ride here, grab an ice-cold wine glass of their sangria and sit on one of their Adirondack chairs overlooking a field (where sometimes people are picking raspberries with those giant straw hats--bee deterrent?). I still have some of their wines downstairs so we can make their sangria at home.
              http://www.whitesilowinery.com/

              SHARPE HILL VINEYARD:
              One of my very favorite restaurants in CT--I've been for both lunch and dinner several times over the past 8 years or so. You'll need to make a reservation in advance (potentially a few weeks) and put a deposit on your card that can be applied to your meal. I am particularly fond of their American chardonnay; for reds, we've enjoyed their Red Seraph and Cab Franc.
              http://www.sharpehill.com/

              PRIAM VINEYARDS:
              http://www.priamvineyards.com/
              Another great setting to bring a picnic (or a baguette and some cheese--and they sell Cato Corner cheese, so maybe just bring bread and some plates/flatware). They have a farmers' market their in season and they also do wine dinners (though I've not yet been). I'm particularly nuts about their St. Croix and Essence of St. Croix--see a trend here? ;)

              1. re: kattyeyes

                Great reviews. The only comment I have is that while Jonathan Edwards does have good reds, I feel like they're cheating by using grapes grown in Napa. It might be silly of me to question whether or not they still count as local. I love local beers, and it's not like the barley is coming from around here.
                Part of what bothers me is that shipping the grapes to make the wine here leaves a considerably larger carbon footprint than making the wine in Napa and shipping it here in bottles. If it pollutes more, and doesn't have a local terroir, what's the locavore draw?
                Since they cost as much or more than some of my favored Napa reds, there isn't much pulling me to buy them.
                They do have one locally grown red, a cabernet franc, but they have been sold out both times I've been.

                1. re: danieljdwyer

                  Thanks! I do know what you mean about Jonathan Edwards and where they get their grapes. I hadn't considered it from the whole carbon footprint perspective. Of course, you're right. To be really honest, I would rather ship *myself* to Napa and buy and sample there. ;)

                  Cab franc appears to be a red CT does well. I'll look for it next time at JE.

                  1. re: kattyeyes

                    Kattyeyes,

                    Thanks so much for your thoughts and reviews. Didn't get the chance to post mine last night, but will do this evening. I have yet to try any of the Eastern Trail wineries (other than Chamard and Gouveia, both of which I enjoyed and plan to return to), but they sound wonderful from your descriptions.

                    The key, in my mind, to enjoying CT's wine is to approach it with the right frame of mind. If you go in looking for something that will compete with Chateau D'Yquem 1975, well you have nowhere to go but utter disappointment. On the other hand, if you go in with an open mind and appreciation for the challenges that CT growers face, well then you can definitely find some very enjoyable bottles.

                    I'll admit that I'm a bit torn on the whole Jonathan Edwards/Napa thing and will reserve judgment until I can actually make it there for a tasting.

                    1. re: bcsuka

                      My open mind is to taste, without regard to where it comes from. If CT winemakers can make good sweet whites then fine! I'm sure they will have a market. I don't think it is sensible, or realistic, to make reds from California grapes.
                      I did the Texas wine trail thing (when I lived there), and there used to be some decent reds till the beetles hit. Then, they started doing the same thing as CT to stay in business (?).
                      In TX, they lost virtually all of their red wine grapevines. At best, they were barely comparable to CA or import wines.

                      1. re: bcsuka

                        bcsuka,

                        I look forward to reading your reviews as well. I think your second paragraph is a perfect description of how to enjoy CT's wines--nicely stated.

                        Definitely keep an open mind on Jonathan Edwards. Despite how the grapes got there, they're making some very delicious wines with them.

                        I'll be especially interested to hear about Haight-Brown since they've changed ownership. I can only hope they've transformed as much as Heritage Trail did (as that was not one of my favorites back when).

                        1. re: kattyeyes

                          Scargod - I hope that you didn't take my last post as a criticism of you or your prior posts. Certainly wasn't the intent. Taste is what it's all about, and based upon what you stated earlier about your likes (Chards in particular), I think you might find some of the wineries interesting - CT isn't all about sweet wines. At any rate, on to the reviews (note: we visited each with our four-year old daughter in tow, so family-friendliness was important to us):

                          JERRAM WINERY:
                          A small, family-owned winery in New Hartford, Jerram offers a tasting of six wines for $6 (price includes the logo glass). The White Frost was a delicate, lightly oaked Chardonnay. Sporting pleasant notes of apple and citrus nose, it would work well with simple fish or pasta dishes. I did not care for the Gentle Shepherd, a blend of Aurora, Cayuga and Chardonnay, however the Estate Seyval Blanc was nice (if lacking in complexity). Highland Reserve was actually one of the better CT reds that I've tasted so far. A blend of Cab Franc (mainly) and Marechal Foch, it offered plenty of dark berry flavors with a peppery finish. Would serve as a nice complement to a picnic lunch. We did not get to taste their Vespers late-harvest dessert wine, which I'm told is quite good, however we did taste their newest offering called Our Sweet Rose. Jerram describes it as a "slightly sweet rose style wine, with a cherry character." Remove the "slightly" and I'd agree completely with that description. It was actually quite nice, so we purchased a bottle for my mother who enjoys sweet blush wines. In addition to their wine, they now also offer chocolate truffles, crafted by a local chocolatier, flavored with Jerram wine. These were TO...DIE....FOR! So we bought a box. Overall, this is a nice small winery with an absolutely stunning location, and the Jerram's are lovely hosts. Rating: B

                          CT VALLEY WINERY:
                          A relatively new winery, CT Valley is also family-owned and basically right around the corner from Jerram. While the main building is not much to look at from the outside, once inside the tasting room is quite comforting. They offer a tasting of 10 wines for $10. Ten wines is an admirable output, however I tend to think that they would be well-served by narrowing their focus a bit. They utilize a number of different hybrid varietals, in a number of different combinations. It's clear that they have a passion for what they are doing, I only wish that I shared that passion for the end product. Maybe I'm missing something because they have won quite a few awards, but then again, so have most of the wineries in CT. Rating: C and I'll give a + for effort

                          Getting late so I'll add more tomorrow!

                          1. re: bcsuka

                            No offense taken, at all. I don't care for blush or rose, in general and sweetish wines with meals are not for me unless it's very spicy Thai or hot Chinese. When I can have $11-13 bottles of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or $15 CA chardonnays, why bother?

                            1. re: Scargod

                              Because you support locals (why bother) and you like road trips (I know this), so perhaps the time has come that you and the SO pick up your passports and set off on the trail. You won't have to go it alone. We can travel in *my* red (non-Miata, yet still very attractive and seats 4) ride. I won't be driving if we hit more than one, but my designated driver is very trustworthy. It's the difference between something being mass produced (those $11-13 & $15 dollar bottles you mentioned) and something of limited production. Think of it as how you see chain restaurants. ;) We need to support the little guys if we want them to stick around. And there are many on the CT wine trail I really want to stick around. So, don't beat us, join us, will ya? ;)

                              1. re: kattyeyes

                                I might join you. I (almost), never say never.

                                I have to say that finding good wines here is like me trying to grow okra and (a reasonable crop of) tomatoes here. Lettuce=yes. Peas=yes. Okra/tomatoes/eggplant=pathetic.

                              2. re: Scargod

                                In addition to what kattyeyes said, because some of the wines are really good.
                                I don't like sweet wines either, even with spicy food. Most of the Connecticut wines I like are dry, and a few are semi-dry. The rose at Gouveia is semi-sweet, but it pairs very well with riper cheeses. Connecticut reds don't compare favorably to California's better reds, but I think our better whites stack up to California or New Zealand Whites.
                                Also, kattyeyes is right that all this why bother business sounds antithetical to your usual "get out and find good chow" attitude. Why so cautious? You've at least got to try Heritage Trail and Maugle Sierra. It's a nice little ride out - and you go right by some great clam rolls - you get to look at some nice, old New England farm houses, there's good chow at Heritage Trail, and they both have some nice, dry wines. Plus the management is friendly and accessible. Good people running good little businesses that offer good flavors. Isn't that what this is all about?

                                1. re: bcsuka

                                  I beg to differ your take on Connecticut Valley Winery. I do tasting here and buy bottles at least 5-6 times a year here, and there tastings were never 10.00 per person. Last year, the tastings were 5.00 per person for 9 wines, and every single wine was great. I believe they had there Chardonel, 2004 Chianti, Ruby Lite, Deep Purple, Midnight, Just Peachy, Raspberry Delight, Dolce Vita, and Black Tie Cabernet Franc. They all won plenty of awards last year, and I thought they would never be able to top themselves, but they did this year. This year Ct Valley Winery lets you taste 11 wines for 6.00 per person, and I cant believe that there wines are even better than last year. They just won BEST SMALL WINERY at the big E wine Competition, and yes, beating out all the other Connecticut Wineries you have posted on here and then some from NY to Maine. I just visited them a few weeks ago and ther lineup includes, Chardonel, 2009 Chianti, Ruby Lite, Deep Purple, Midnight, Just Peachy, Rasp. Delight, Dolce Vita, Black Tie Cab. Orange Vidal, and there New Port, Black Bear. Best tasting and wine experiance Ive ever had. Yes, there Chianti is a lighter American Chianti, not to heavy as the wine makers explained, as It is my favorite red to drink in Ct. Orange Vidal was fantastic, citric and light on the pallat.(New for 09) also brand new and I think I was lucky enough to get the first bottles was Black Bear Port. Words cant describe the great flavor of this wine! Just...well...to die for.
                                  I will be back again in a few weeks, and thank you for making such great different wine Ct Valley.
                                  RATING: A+++++ for effort and esp. the wines

                        2. re: kattyeyes

                          kattyeyes, i couldn't agree more, w/everything you said above! I didn't know you had made it out as far west as White Silo....every time I drink wine at home out of my WS glasses I remember how wonderful it felt to sit on those adirondack chairs w/a glass of their sangria.

                          My two new faves on the western end of the trail are Miranda and Sunset Meadow, both in Goshen.

                          We should pick a day and meet for lunch at Heritage Trail!

                          1. re: JaneRI

                            Sending a virtual CHEERS of WS sangria to you.

                            Your two new faves are new to me--will have to get to work on my passport and check some of the new places out.

                            Would love to meet you for lunch at Heritage Trail--it's thanks to you that I ever thought of revisiting it, you know! Such a departure from sampling wine in the former owner's kitchen with the avocado-colored fridge!

                            1. re: kattyeyes

                              Kattyeyes, please feel free to email me: j_x_healey@yahoo.com.

                              1. re: JaneRI

                                Jane, e-mailed you from my Comcast addy last night--I fear I may be stuck in your spam folder. If that doesn't work, please drop a line to the gmail addy in my profile and we'll connect from there.

                          2. re: kattyeyes

                            We just opened our Maugle Sierra Esencia de St. Croix tonight...a little post-dinner treat. It is so chocolatey wonderful! It just so happens I chocolate-dipped some Pretzel Thins this morning, and I must share with you, this truly is a delightful pairing. More info and a photo here:
                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6136...

                            I would highly recommend bringing this snack with you on the CT Wine Trail to accompany some of the red wines you'll find. Priam also has a lovely Essence of St. Croix that would pair beautifully!

                            I'm sad to say I didn't get around to picking up a passport or getting any stamps this summer. But wonder if any of you have an update...

                        3. How do Connecticut wines stack up? Are they mostly whites or blush? I can't recall being impressed with the one or two whites I've tried.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: Scargod

                            It really depends on how harsh of a wine critic you are. They certainly aren't going to win any awards, but I find many of them to be a pleasure to drink. Whites do far better here than reds do. The only one that has reds I like is Maugle Sierra. Heritage Trail has some nice whites. Gouveia has the only rose I've ever enjoyed from anywhere in the world. Bishop's Orchard's dryer apple wines are very nice cold in the early fall, or hot in the late winter.
                            That said, there's not a single one I like as a stand alone wine. They're wines that need you to be eating while you drink them. And if you're the type of wine drinker that looks down on simpler wines, buttery chardonnays, and such, then they're not worth trying at all.
                            I haven't tried all of the other vineyards in the state, just most. I'll refrain from making negative comments about the rest, because none of them are bad. I wasn't impressed, but someone else might be. I've met the owners and staff at all the ones I've been to save one, and they're very nice people running very enjoyable agritourism businesses. I'd encourage you to try any of them, but the ones named above are a good start.
                            One of the nicest day trips a New Havener can take in pleasant weather is to head out towards Stonington and hit the vineyards on that road. You can hit Chamard in Clinton on the way, Stonington Vineyards and Jonathan Edwards in Stonington, Maugle Sierra in Ledyard, and Heritage Trail in Lisbon. Some of the best road food in the state is conveniently available on the road to keep the blood alcohol level down. There's also some good chow in Mystic, and Heritage Trail is turning into one of the better places to eat in the state.
                            The most local wines that would likely actually impress you are from Long Island and Niagara, which both produce some really fantastic wines, particularly whites in the style of Eastern France, Northern Italy, and Germany, like dry riesling and gewurtraminer. The most local really impressive reds are, unfortunately, from California.
                            Oh, and one more thing. Connecticut wines are on the expensive side. The vineyards make great food and wine centric outings, but they unfortunately aren't making wines I'm going to buy when I'm not at the vineyard.

                            1. re: danieljdwyer

                              Thanks for the insight.
                              I have been to numerous wine tastings (though not recently), and I thought they were mostly whites and tended to be sweeter, like rieslings. I seldom want a sweet Gewürztraminer, as we generally don't do desserts.
                              SO said she did a CT wine tasting and was unimpressed.
                              I love buttery Chards and also those just done in stainless. Love that (secondary) malolactic fermentation! Also love sauvignon blancs!

                              1. re: danieljdwyer

                                "It really depends on how harsh of a wine critic you are. They certainly aren't going to win any awards"

                                I must take issue w/this....

                                http://www.sharpehill.com/wines/
                                http://www.priamvineyards.com/our_win...

                                And that's just at a glance, I'm sure if I went winery by winery I'd find more. I think the local wineries have "grown up" a lot in the past 5 yrs. The wines are much more sophisticated than they used to be.

                                1. re: JaneRI

                                  I stand corrected.
                                  Awards or not, I still wouldn't put them in an elite class of wines, however. I have no idea how sophisticated they used to be. I've only gotten familiar with them over the last two years. I didn't mean any slight, just that no one is going to confuse Connecticut with Rioja or Alsace anytime soon.

                                  1. re: JaneRI

                                    Puhleeez! Wining a medal at the Colorado State Fair or Florida State Fair is hardly high praise for a wine. Most of these "competitions", are like the Special Olympics. Every participant gets a medal at the end of the day. Sharpe Hill's "award winning" Reserve Chardonnays ($16 on release in 2001 and 2002) scored 84 points in Wine Spectator. For this they get a Gold Medal?

                                    You can make an enjoyable day out of picnicing and sampling the local wines. but don't expect to be won over. Many of these wineries pour at the Mohegan Sun Wine Fest and the Food and Wine Festival at Foxwoods. Side-by-side with the other wines at these events, the CT wines are far behind in quality and aggressively priced for what you get. If you can't find a $9 Chardonnay that is equal to what the CT wineries sell for $18, then you aren't looking very hard. Lovely settings, lovely people and a fun day are what you should be targeting. But don't get your hopes up for high quality wine. The best of the lot are the sweet wines. The dry wines would score in the 75-85 point range by any reputable reviewer.

                                    1. re: FoodieJim

                                      I have just tried the Sharpe Hill 2006 Chardonnay and found it acceptable. It hasn't won a bronze, even locally, that I have found. I think of it as an average $11 bottle of wine that tastes like a cross between unoaked chardonnay and sauvignon blanc.
                                      Yet, the Sharpe Hill's Cuvee Ammi Phillips 2006 chardonnay scored a 90 (Wine Spectator, July 31, 2007). The caveat being that the Chardonnay grapes came from North Fork, Long Island. Don't know about cost of either one.

                                      1. re: Scargod

                                        Oh, there's oak there, buddy. I prefer Sharpe Hill's American chard over their reserve because of the little bit of oak, but know what you mean--it's not as "buttery" as other chards. Nor is that necessarily desirable (buttery) to many oenophiles. I just happen to like a buttery chard myself. Your chard won a list of gold medals (local or otherwise, including '06). Here's Sharpe Hill's whole list of wines with awards and prices:
                                        http://www.sharpehill.com/wines/index...

                                        I get that our wine trail isn't Napa, but I've enjoyed lots of wines over the years and do think our locals are getting even better over time. Heritage Trail is a great example--true, the difference is the owners, but still--that was one of my least favorites and now I really love that place. And they make a buttery chard!

                                        Never tried SH's Ammi Phillips and guess I never will 'cause it's sold out.

                                        1. re: Scargod

                                          I don't/can't count wines that are made from non-native grapes. Why CT wineries do that is beyond me. It cheapens what they are trying to achieve. If you want to make wine from CA or NY grapes, open a winery in CA or NY.

                                2. Bishop's Orchards in Guilford has a Conn. wine tasting event every summer. We went last year and were not too impressed - there are a lot of fruit wines and very sweet white wines. Many of reds were also sweet or exceedingly smoky or tanniny.

                                  Not every CT vineyard participated, and I certainly have not done the whole wine trail, but I've done parts of it. It's a pleasant diversion, but there's been no "wow" moment for me.

                                  In drought years, Chamard in Clinton has had a very good Chardonnay that they sell as a "special reserve" beyond their regular offering. I belive they grow the grapes on Long Island. We bought a case, to drink ourselves and as gifts. It's good with turkey and duck. The regular Chard is not as good.

                                  Jonathan Edwards has the best red in Conn. I've tried, but it's awfully expensive - around $25 as I recall. Not worth it as a wine to drink at home, but it's a nice buy if you're going to have a picnic at their vineyard, which has concerts and other events.

                                  1. Neat and informative thread..mostly ;) ! Have to agree with those here who can go to any one of our CT wineries and enjoy the wines for what they are, realize the challenges the growers face, delight in trying something new that is "produced" here, and perhaps giving credit to those whose product has come along rather nicely in a relatively short period of time.

                                    In the cases of the family farms, some of these producers have only recently expanded into wine-making and if it provides them an additional way to remain viable then all the better. The "experience" of tasting and visiting any producer in our very own state is quite Chowish and rather exciting. Even as a Hounder, if you're already aware of Chow-worthy food to enjoy in each area or if you're at least inclined as to what to bring to the wineries themselves in the case of the beautiful picnic-appropriate ones mentioned here...what more could you want? Sure, the whites may do "better" overall but I'll happily sample and in many cases buy at least some of what I've tasted from any of the vineyards at one time or another(on the "trail" or otherwise).

                                    Although it's not my usual wine preference, I've even been pleasantly surprised with just about all of the non-grape fruit wines we've tried. Even among the clearly designated "semi-dry" styles, I'd be hard pressed to name that many that were either too cloying or excessively super-sweet. Aside from those, most of the other vinifera efforts are just plain tastefully done. If something isn't to your greatest liking I just don't see there being a problem with at least appreciating the effort involved and relishing the opportunity to have tried something different. With so many of the wineries being in beautiful settings and pleasant surroundings, if all you're thinking about is what wine is "better" from elsewhere at a comparable pricepoint....it's probably best you stay home anyway! A vast majority of the wines are priced somewhat reasonably considering yields, case quantities, finicky growing conditions, and the understandable "learning as we go" approach that should be expected here. Even if you wouldn't buy a bottle, what's not to like about paying a few dollars to taste all a producer has to offer?

                                    There's no doubt that I've particularly liked the bottlings where the varietals used are outside of what is clearly "superior" elsewhere or especially some of the limited-quantity "experiments" but either way it's refreshing to see enthusiastic tasters with Wine-Trail Passports in-hand experiencing what we miss all too often in our everyday lives. Here's to those who are discovering and connecting with our creative and worthy local growers. When meeting the owners who are just plain good people, I could care less about perceived numbers or ratings of these wines than I do the real numbers that count...the increase of wineries we've seen establish themselves here in recent years. Whether a hit or miss, I toast them all for giving it a go and doing what they love.

                                    Has anyone seen or been to any of the 'Farm and Food Programs', the 'Thursday Evening Tasting and Food Demonstration Series', or the 'Friday Evening Wine-Downs' at Jones Family Farm's "Harvest Kitchen" in Shelton? Can't say we have yet but it all looks quite fun. It's always great to see music, farmer's markets, or other events at all the various wineries but we were especially impressed that there was such a slate of different activities here.

                                    http://www.jonesfamilyfarms.com/conte...
                                    http://www.jonesfamilyfarms.com/harve...

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: noreservations

                                      <<Here's to those who are discovering and connecting with our creative and worthy local growers...Whether a hit or miss, I toast them all for giving it a go and doing what they love.>>

                                      And I toast YOU for a well thought out addition to this thread! Cheers to you, noreservations! RIGHT ON and well said!

                                      And as a corollary to your mention of farmers' markets w/winery pairings, I noted with interest this past Sunday was the "Wine & Art Gala" at Coventry Farmers' Market. We didn't make it, but it was certainly a tempting idea.
                                      http://www.coventryfarmersmarket.com/

                                      We haven't made it to Jones on a Friday night because it's a haul from where we are, but I agree--it does look fun!

                                      1. re: kattyeyes

                                        ...and a clinking of CT winery glasses to you as well. Wish I saw the Coventry gala in time as this is exactly the type of creative pairings that's great to see.

                                        Speaking of creative pairings, I'm looking forward to hitting the "trail" soon to go see Harry & Laurie at Heritage Trail. I see they use the 'Shetucket Red' with the Smoked Loin of Pork and you've seemed to really enjoy the 'Rochambeau' with the Beef Brisket(call me a copy-"katt" but I'm ordering the latter too). I like it when the entree gets to enjoy some of the wine as well! We won't need much of an arm-twisting to do the tasting/pairing and then decide to stay for dinner either.

                                        I enjoy our state's St. Croix and wanted to compare the Maugle Sierra 'Espíritu de St. Croix' and the Priam 'Essence of St. Croix' but upon looking at Priam's "Visit the Vineyard/Order Form" section of their site it seems as though the Essence isn't currently available(no asterisk marking on this wine). So thank you Ms Katty for seemingly rubbing it in as to how good it is in your posts above....TWICE! That's like me digging up a bottle of Sharpe Hill's 'Cuvee Ammi Philips' and extolling that wine's quality here after quaffing that rarity. I'm not above doing such but you know..I'm just saying ;)

                                    2. Holmberg Orchards in Gales Ferry~ Being so close to Maugle Sierra this is a worthwhile stop for seasonal picking, shopping their market, or for tasting some cleverly made fruit-based wines. Most are produced in an unexpected and not overly sweet style(despite the various fruit used) so leave those judgements in the parking lot. :) They also have three different single-varietal hard ciders. While Bishop's hard cider is extremely disappointing(that's being kind) and you're left expecting much more because they are after all...an orchard first, Holmberg in comparison obviously took more time to work out a considerably better finished product before its release. It goes without saying that the hard cider here is well beyond the regrettable mass produced plonk that is bottled and passed for the same in what we commonly see in the package stores but I'd be even happier if we had hard cider produced in CT as good as what I've enjoyed at Fly Creek. We're doing quite alright anyway and it's an overall pleasant tasting experience at Holmberg, there's definitely much to do here.

                                      Maugle Sierra in Ledyard~ As posted here by several others, Maugle is a must-stop on the Wine Trail. They produce fine examples of white(the 'Sunset White' with Vidal more so than the 'House White' which is made with "naked" Chardonnay), red(the 'Estate St. Croix' definitely more so than the 'House' or 'Sunset' Reds which are made with St. Croix blended with Merlot and Cab Franc respectively), the above mentioned and impressive St. Croix based dessert beauty 'Espíritu de St. Croix'/'Esencia de St. Croix', and even a rosé(the 'House Rosé ' from yep, you guessed it..St. Croix with controlled contact of the skins). To be here on a recent harvest day was just absolute perfect timing.

                                      Priam Vineyards in Colchester~ Louisiana-native and winemaker/co-owner Gary Crump is a craftsman at producing varietals and blends that we've seemingly been told can't grow well here and perhaps have been underwhelmed by just about everywhere else. He's made memorable wines of many different kinds but to taste his efforts in the various bottlings let alone to speak with him makes Priam the best visiting "experience" on the Trail for us. Most of the wineries are in idealic settings but Priam Vineyards is among the better ones to attend when they have their event dinners(don't miss these), Sunday farmer's markets, or even just to picnic. I just wonder why I didn't get here sooner each time we visit.
                                      Be sure to ask Gary about his farming practices, the low tons per acre yielded from his grapes when compared to what's common with other producers, and the interesting(and sometimes unusual!) techniques he uses which otherwise couldn't be utilized had he been a winemaker elsewhere. I couldn't come close to keeping up with him, either in his enthusiasm for thoughtfully produced wines or in the tasting-room discussions of other issues should you engage him in that area! Definitely try the "additional wines" and the "reserve/dessert wines" that you can fully supplement the day's tasting selections with. So many to mention but there is Riesling/riesling blends, Chard/chard blends, a semi-sweet red blend & a Bordeaux style blend(a bottling with promise that it CAN be done after all), Cayuga, Gewurztraminer, & very nice St. Croix/Essence of St. Croix as well as Late Harvest Riesling.

                                      1. Just had to post on this thread regarding Heritage Trail. A week ago Friday was our first visit (even though we live 10 mins. away) and I was pleasantly surprised.
                                        Wines - very unique, enjoyed everything, and found a dessert wine that's not so sweet that mr. bakinggirl won't drink it.
                                        Food - I can still taste the smoked pork loin with Rochambeau...apps to dessert, everything was great. mr. bakinggirl had the smoked salmon tacos and he's still talking about them.
                                        Service - Wow. A homey, fun, informal yet elegant environment. I ordered the tasting with dinner (couldn't wait to eat, but HAD to try all of the wines) and my glass was never empty even during a busy dinner shift.
                                        We'll definitely be back for more!

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: bakinggirl

                                          It's that time of year again! Gary and Gloria of Priam Vineyards in Colchester sent an e-mail to announce this weekend kicks off the passport program:

                                          "The Ct Wine Trail Passorts are available this weekend.
                                          You need to obtain stamps at 16 of the 30 participating wineries and submit your passport to a winery by the 17th of November. There is only one entry per person and YOU MUST BE PRESENT TO HAVE YOUR PASSPORT STAMPED."

                                          First and second prizes are 13-night trips to Spain. Cheers, and game on, fellow nutmeggers!

                                          -----
                                          Priam Vineyards
                                          11 Shailor Hill Rd, Colchester, CT

                                          1. re: kattyeyes

                                            Thanks kattyeyes - we're headed to Heritage Trail for dinner shortly, and I was thinking of getting the passports if they were out!
                                            Let the games begin!

                                        2. WOOHOO--got my passport and first stamp yesterday at a new (to me) winery: Cassidy Hill Vineyard in Coventry.
                                          http://www.cassidyhillvineyard.com/?m...

                                          Favorite here was Jet's Red, "a fun wine, perfect for a picnic, this light red wine blend has aromas of berries and spice. Named after our winery dog Jet who inspired the creation of this playful wine." It paired nicely with the mini chili meatloaves I made last night.

                                          The owner let us know they have music on the weekends. Several people were enjoying their wines outside on the porch. Pretty country setting.

                                          Fun side note: last year's 2nd prize passport winner (a Coventry resident) was leaving the winery as we arrived. Lucky!