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Wining and Dining on the Connecticut Wine Trail, USA PDF Print E-mail
Written by Debra C. Argen   

Gouveia Vineyards, Connecticut Wine Trail, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience For a state measuring only 5,543 square miles (14,356 sq. km), Connecticut has an abundance of vineyards and wineries. Nicknamed the "Nutmeg State," it may soon have another moniker, "the Vineyard State." Ever since Sherman Haight Jr. planted the first grapes in 1973, the number has steadily grown and now comprises 30 vineyards and wineries. Luxury Experience swirled, sniffed, and deliciously tasted our way along the Connecticut Wine Trail.

Unlike many wine growing regions where vineyards are nestled close together, the vineyards in Connecticut are located throughout the state, with clusters along the western, southern, and eastern borders, offering oenophiles the opportunity to experience them over time. To add a sense of accomplishment in the quest of knowledge of the grape, the Connecticut Farm Wine Development Council provides visitors with a "Passport to Connecticut Farm Wineries" where you can elect to have your passport stamped at each vineyard and winery visited. 

In late August and again in mid-September 2010 during harvest time, Edward F. Nesta and I set about learning about Connecticut wines by experiencing a sampling of the vineyards, allowing us to further our "Connecticut wine education" over time.

The Wine Experience - Meet the Winemakers of Connecticut  

New England is steeped in history dating to the Revolution, and each of its towns and villages have their own charm and personalities. We began our discovery in the historic town of Litchfield, located in Litchfield County, incorporated in 1719, population 8,684, and home to the Haight-Brown Vineyard, the oldest vineyard in the state. 

Haight-Brown Vineyard, Litchfield, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience
Haight-Brown Vineyard

Although naysayers proclaimed the Connecticut climate as too cold to grow grapes, Sherman Haight Jr. disregarded that advice and planted his Chardonnay and Riesling vines anyways, the vines took, the grapes thrived, and he established Haight Vineyard in 1973 and opened it to the public in 1975. 

Haight-Brown Vineyard, Litchfield, Connecticut, USA - Grapes - Photo by Luxury Experience
 Haight-Brown Vineyard Vines

Amy Senew and Courtney Brown purchased the vineyard in 2007 from owner Sherman Haight Jr.,  and renamed it Haight-Brown Vineyard where they are proudly continuing the winemaking tradition. They focus on growing Chardonnay, Merlot, Riesling, Seyval Blanc, Marechal Foch, Dechaunac, and Marquette varietals. In addition to wine tastings, they have special Wine, Cheese & Chocolate pairings  held during last weekend of every month. 

Haight-Brown Vineyard, Litchfield, Connecticut, USA - Cheese Selection - Photo by Luxury Experience
Cheeses at Haight-Brown Vineyard

Haight-Brown Vineyard is open year round for events and tasting.  General hours are Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm, and Sunday from 12:00 pm until 5:00 pm. Hours vary per season, so please call before visiting.  
 
Haight-Brown Vineyard, Litchfield, Connecticut, USA - Vineyard Sign - Photo by Luxury Experience
Sign in the Haight-Brown Vineyard

Haight-Brown Vineyard, Litchfield, Connecticut, USA Haight-Brown Vineyard
29 Chestnut Hill Road
Litchfield, Connecticut 06759
United States
Telephone:       +1-860-567-4045
FAX:                 +1-845-818-3770
Email:               This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website:          www.HaightVineyards.com 

A short distance from Litchfield is the town of Goshen, located in Litchfield County, incorporated in 1739, population 3,092, which has the distinction of being home to two vineyards, Miranda Vineyard, and Sunset Meadow Vineyards

Miranda Vineyard, Goshen, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience
Miranda Vineyard

Manny and Maria Miranda, owners of the 30-acre Miranda Vineyard, established in 2004, realized Manny's lifelong dream of owning a vineyard once they retired, when they planted their first vines in 2001 on 7-acres. Although newcomers to vineyard ownership, winemaking is in Manny Miranda's blood. Growing up in Portugal, he learned the art and science of winemaking in the honored tradition, learning from his father and his grandfather. For the past 40 years, Manny has been creating wines using traditional old world techniques and modern technology. 

Miranda Vineyard, Goshen, Connecticut, USA - Vines - Photo by Luxury Experience
Miranda Vineyard Vines

Manny Miranda focuses on growing Seyval Blanc, Vidal, Chardonnay, Leon Millot, St. Croix, Cabernet Franc, Traminette, and Cayuga varietals. Since they opened to the public in 2007, Miranda Vineyard has been garnering their share of medals for their wines. Their focus is to try to be as organic as possible, and offer three red and three white wines, as well as a Vinho Fino, similar to a Port, in their portfolio. Their Woodbridge Red contains hardly any sulfites, making it ideal for people who love red wine, but have a problem with sulfites. 

Miranda Vineyard, Goshen, Connecticut, USA - Wines - Photo by Luxury Experience
Miranda Vineyard Wines

Miranda Vineyard is open Thursday from 12:00 pm until 5:00 pm, Friday and Saturday from 12:00 pm until 7:00 pm, and Sunday from 12:00 pm until 5:00 pm. Visit their website for special events and live music. Upcoming events include their annual Harvest Festival on October 17, 2010.  

Miranda Vineyard, Goshen, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience Miranda Vineyard
42 Ives Road
Goshen, Connecticut 06756
United States
Telephone:       +1-860-491-9906
Email:               This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website:          www.MirandaVineyard.com 

Another "new kid on the scene" is the 40-acre Sunset Meadow Vineyards & Winery established in 2003, owned by George III and Judy Motel, on what was once a former beef cattle farm. They are one of the five largest grape growers in Connecticut and grow 95% of the grapes that they use in their wine, and grow 13 varietals. 

Sunset Meadow Vineyard and Winery
Sunset Meadow Vineyards & Winery

The focus at Sunset Meadow Vineyards & Winery is growing Seyval, Vidal, Lemberger, Riesling, Chardonnay, St. Croix, Cabernet Franc, Chamborcin, Merlot, and Cayuga varietals. They grew grapes for 10 years before producing wine, and opened their tasting room in the renovated historic Dutch barn in 2008. In 2010, they planted 2,700 new vines and have 9,000 total vines. Although new, Sunset Meadow Vineyards has already received many medals for their wines. 

Sunset Meadow Vineyard and Winery - The Motel Family - Photo by Luxury Experience
George III, Judy, and George IV Motel

Sunset Meadow Vineyards & Winery is open Thursdays from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm, and Sundays and Mondays from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm. Private group tasting times are available by appointment during the week, please call to schedule. Visit their website for special event information.  
 
Sunset Meadow Vineyard and Winery - Vines - Photo by Luxury Experience
Sunset Meadow Vineyard Vines

Sunset Meadow Vineyard and Winery - Photo by Luxury Experience Sunset Meadow Vineyards & Winery
599 Old Middle Street, Route 63
Goshen, Connecticut 06756
United States
Telephone:    +1-860-201-4654
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website:   www.SunsetMeadowVineyards.com  
                   

Continuing on the Connecticut Wine Trail, we visited Shelton, located in Fairfield County, incorporated as a town in 1789, and later incorporated as a city in 1915, with a population of 38,101, that is home to another young winery, Jones Winery, owned by Philip Jamison "Jamie" Jones and Christina Jones

Jamie Jones of Jones Family Farms, Shelton, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience
Jamie Jones With His Vines 

Jamie Jones is a sixth generation farmer of the 150-year old, 400-acre Jones Family Farms, and together with well-known winemaker Larry McCulloch, they make a formidable team. Jamie, a graduate of Cornell University, has farming in his blood; Jones Family Farm is renowned for their Christmas trees and their produce, and it was his idea that the family should expand their farming to include a winery. 

Jones Family Farms, Shelton, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience
Jones Family Farms

In 1999, he planted his first vines on 7-acres of the farm and established the vineyard on Pumpkinseed Hill in 2004. His vision is "to celebrate what can be done in Connecticut. Wine is made in the vineyard, the terroir, we make sure that we have a good crop and not get in the way of the wine, which almost makes itself in the winery. We are minimalists, we do not use a lot of oak, and the wines are not overly sweet, we want to let the ground speak." 

Jones Winery focuses on growing Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Merlot, Lemberger, Muscat, Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Chamborcin, Chancellor, Riesling, and Cayuga white varietals. 
 
 Jones Family Farms, Shelton, Connecticut, USA - Vines- Photo by Luxury Experience
Jones Winery Vines

Speaking with Jamie, we learned that the exceptionally long, hot summer of 2010 looks like it could be a very yummy year for wines. In fact, the weather has been so warm, that the grapes were 2 weeks ahead of average, and 4 weeks ahead of 2009 when Connecticut had a much cooler and wetter season. 

Jones Winery is open for tasting Friday through Sunday from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm.  

 Jones Family Farms, Shelton, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience Jones Winery
606 Walnut Tree Hill Road
Shelton, Connecticut 06484
United States
Telephone:        +1-203-929-8425
Website: www.JonesFamilyFarms.com
 

The town of Brookfield, located in Fairfield County, established in 1788, population 16,354, is home to the 45-acre DiGrazia Vineyards, owned by Dr. Paul DiGrazia, which is the second oldest vineyard in Connecticut, established in 1978 as a vineyard and opened as a winery in 1984. 

DiGrazia Vineyards, Brookfield, Connecticut, USA
DiGrazia Vineyards

Master Blender Dr. DiGrazia pointed out that the "Best juice comes from vines that are older than 30 years, and the majority of our vines are 30+ years old." One of the focuses at DiGrazia Vineyards is on antioxidant wines and their Wild Blue blueberry wine is one of the highest antioxidant wines on the market at 6000mg/liter in addition to being a Double Gold Medal winner in 2007. 

Along with their Wild Blue blueberry wine, DiGrazia Vineyards focuses on growing Vidal Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Native grapes, Elvira and Niagra, and St. Croix. In addition, they offer award winning port style wines, the Blacksmith Port, Signature Blacksmith Port, and White Magnolia White Port, exceptional Dessert Wines, Spiced Wine, and Fruit Wines.   

DiGrazia Vineyards, Brookfield, Connecticut, USA - Mrs. and Dr. DiGrazia - Photo by Luxury Experience
Mrs. and Dr. DiGrazia 

DiGrazia Vineyards is open from January through April on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm, from May through December they are open daily from 11:00 am until 5:00 pm.  

DiGrazia Vineyards, Brookfield, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience DiGrazia Vineyards
131 Tower Road
Brookfield, Connecticut 06804
United States
Telephone:        +1-203-775-1616
Website:            www.Digrazia.com 

The village of Sandy Hook, located in Fairfield County, established in 1711, is a short distance from Brookfield, and is home to the 160-acre (15-acre of vineyards) family owned McLaughlin Vineyards, established in 1979, another "old-timer" on the Connecticut wine scene. 

McLaughlin Vineyards, Sandy Hook, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience
McLaughlin Vineyards

Winemaker Bruce McLaughlin focuses on growing Aurore, Chardonnay, Merlot, Foch, Norton, and Vidal varietals. Along with their quality wines, they sell farm-harvested maple syrup and local artisanal foods in their tasting room / Country Store. 

McLaughlin Vineyards, Sandy Hook, Connecticut, USA - Vines - Photo by Luxury Experience
McLaughlin Vineyard Vines

McLaughlin Vineyards also offers Wine Education programs that are held monthly running 2.5 to 3 hours. The McLaughlin family encourages visitors to discover the many hiking trails over their 50-acre wildlife and bald eagle sanctuary, or enjoy a picnic lunch on the property. Another highlight is the McLaughlin Vineyards music series that runs from the beginning of August through the end of October. 

McLaughlin Vineyards, Sandy Hook, Connecticut, USA - Shop - Photo by Luxury Experience
Wines and Maple Syrup Available in Store  

McLaughlin Vineyards is open year-round, Monday through Thursday from 11:00 am until 5:30 pm, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 12:00 pm until 6:00 pm, or by appointment. Check their website for special events.  

McLaughlin Vineyards, Sandy Hook, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience

McLaughlin Vineyards
14 Albert's Hill Road
P.O. Box 778
Sandy Hook, Connecticut 06482
United States
Telephone:       +1-203-426-1533
Toll-Free:         1-866-599-9463
FAX:                  +1-203-270-8722
Email:               This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website:          www.MclaughlinVineyards.com
 

The town of Guilford, located in New Haven County, established in 1643, population 22,307, is the home of Bishop's Orchards Winery, owned by sixth generation, Keith B. Bishop, who is also the winemaker. 

Bishops Orchards Farm Market and Winery, Guilford, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience
Bishop's Orchards Winery

Although a new winery, the Bishop family has a long history of farming dating to 1871 growing fruit and vegetables on 300 acres. After supplying fruit and pear juice for many years to neighboring wineries, in 2005, he decided it was time he established a winery. 

Bishops Orchards Farm Market and Winery, Guilford, Connecticut, USA - Keith Bishop - Photo by Luxury Experience
Keith Stocking the Shelves with Connecticut Wines

His focus for Bishop's Orchards Winery is to create luscious fruit wines from fruit grown in Bishop's orchards including strawberries, apples, raspberries, peaches, pears, and blueberries, which have been winning many medals. Making fruit wine requires an abundance of fruit; speaking with Keith, we learned that it takes 800 pounds (363 kilos) of blueberries to make 60 gallons (227 liters) of wine. Fruit they do not use for winemaking is for sale in the Farm Market store, and is available as "Pick Your Own Fruit" (from June until October).

We toured the wine cellar and had the opportunity to taste a batch of strawberry wine developing in the stainless steel fermentation tanks. After only one week of fermentation, it was still "raw" yet gave a clear indication of its potential. 

Bishops Orchards Farm Market and Winery, Guilford, Connecticut, USA - Keith Bishop- Photo by Luxury Experience
Keith Sampling Wine

Bishop's Orchards Farm Winery Sales is open year-round, Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am until 7:00 pm, and Sunday from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm. Tasting is done in the Farm Market where in addition to wine for sale, they also sell fresh fruits and vegetables, and baked goods. Farm Market Hours are Monday through Saturday from 8:00 am until 7:00 pm, and Sunday from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm.  

Bishops Orchards Farm Market and Winery, Guilford, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience Bishop's Orchards Farm Market & Winery
1355 Boston Post Road, US Route 1
Guilford, Connecticut 06482
United States
Telephone:   +1-866-281SHOP
Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website:  www.BishopsOrchardsWinery.com 

The town of Wallingford, located in New Haven County, established in 1670, population 44736, is home to the 140-acre Gouveia Vineyards, established in 1999, and owned by Joe and Lucy Gouveia

Gouveia Vineyards, Wallingford, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience
Gouveia Vineyards

Joe Gouveia grew up in a small village of under 90 people in Portugal where everyone helped their neighbors at harvest time. His family moved to the United States when he was 14 years old, where he had the dream of one day owning a vineyard to recreate the honorable tradition of winemaking. 

Gouveia Vineyards, Wallingford, Connecticut, USA - Joe Gouveia - Photo by Luxury Experience
Joe Gouveia with Grapes

Nestled high on a hill and surrounded by 32-acres of row upon row of vines, Gouveia Vineyards' location has a slighter warmer climate than that of the other vineyards and allows Joe to grow Zinfandel in addition to the other varietals of Seyval Blanc, Vignoles, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet franc, Cayuga, St. Croix, Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat, and Traminette. 

The location provides the perfect place to watch the sunset from the outdoor patio, or inside at a table sitting near the fireplace in the cooler months. Joe and Lucy Gouveia encourage visitors to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy with a glass of one of their wines, and there is live entertainment on Saturdays from 4:00 pm until 7:00 pm. 

Gouveia Vineyards, Wallingford, Connecticut, USA - Grapes - Photo by Luxury Experience
Gouveia Vineyards Grapes

Gouveia Vineyards is open year-round Thursday from 11:00 am until 8:00 pm, Friday from 11:00 am until 8:00 pm, Saturday from 11:00 am until 8:00 pm, and Sunday from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm.  
 
Debra C. Argen picking grapes at Gouveia Vineyards - Photo by Luxury Experience Edward F. Nesta picking grapes at Gouveia Vineyards - Photo by Luxury Experience
Debra and Edward Harvesting the Grapes
 
Read the article on Harvesting the Grapes at Gouveia Vineyards, in the Wine Cellar section, where Debra C. Argen and Edward F. Nesta particapte in bringing in the harvest. 

Gouveia Vineyards, Wallingford, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience Gouveia Vineyards
1339 Whirlwind Hill Road
Wallingford, Connecticut 06482
United States
Telephone:  +1-203-265-5526
Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Website:   www.GouveiaVineyards.com
   

Where to Dine   

Wine and gastronomy go hand-in-hand, and New Haven, situated in the middle of the Connecticut Wine Trail is perfect to enjoy lunch or dinner after visiting the many vineyards. 

We had an excellent dinner at Ibiza Restaurant, which was a delicious discovery. The restaurant was a perfect complement after a day of visiting vineyards with its Spanish cuisine and excellent wine list. 

Ibiza Restaurant, New Haven, Connecticut, USA - Photo by Luxury Experience
Ibiza Restaurant

Executive Chef Manuel Romero focuses on traditional recipes with small, yet delectable twists, using ingredients not normally found in Spanish cuisine, that deliver wonderful surprises on the palate. 

Ibiza Restaurant, New Haven, Connecticut, USA - Chef Manuel Romero - Photo by Luxury Experience
Executive Chef  Manuel Romero

A few of the many highlights included an amuse bouche of a Boquerone, a marinated fresh anchovy on toasted bread with avocado-cilantro puree; a Croqueta de Cabrale, which was a crisp bleu cheese deep-fried ball that provided a delicious mouthful of pleasure; and perfectly seasoned and slightly spiced traditional Gazpacho served in a shot glass. 

Ibiza Restaurant, New Haven, Connecticut, USA - Amuse Bouche - Photo by Luxury Experience
Amuse Bouche - Boquerone, Croqueta de Cabrale, Gazpacho

Other highlights included Ceviche made with marinated shrimp, bay scallops, mango, red tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, and guacamole; Pargo, grilled red snapper with judiones De La Granja beans, green peas, chopped porcini mushrooms, red tomatoes, baby white asparagus, and Manila clams; and Raviole homemade foie gras infused with sweet potato ravioli with crispy bacon, baby carrots, and sugar snap peas.

Ibiza Restaurant, New Haven, Connecticut, USA - Pargo (Grilled Red Snapper) - Photo by Luxury Experience
Pargo (Grilled Red Snapper)

Desserts (postres) were inspired and the perfect finish to a wonderful dinner. Savarin de chocolate was rich and warm from the oven accompanied by a mixed berry salad and muscatel snow, and Croquetas de chocolate, were delicious almond crusted chocolate balls presented on spoons with lemon gelatin and coconut foam. Mousse de chocolate blanco was an artistic presentation in a crispy "tulip" with rhubarb compote and house-made strawberry sorbet; and Membrillo, cinnamon rice pudding studded with diced Granny Smith apples, and semi-frozen quince paste on a cream cheese cake with passion fruit coulis provided luscious layers of flavors and textures.

Ibiza Restaurant, New Haven, Connecticut, USA - Croquetas de Chocolate - Photo by Luxury Experience
Croquetas de Chocolate

Ibiza Restaurant is open for Lunch Friday from 12:00 pm until 2:30 pm, and for Dinner   Monday through Thursday from 5:00 pm until 9:00 pm, and on Friday and Saturday from 5:00 pm until 10:00 pm. The restaurant is closed on Sunday. 

Read about Ibiza Restaurant in the Restaurants section and in Chefs' Recipes section where Chef Manuel Romero shares a delicious taste of the restaurant with his recipes for Tomato Gazpacho, Stuffed Piquillo Peppers, and Crema Catalana 

Ibiza Restaurant, New Haven, Connecticut, USA Ibiza Restaurant
39 High Street
New Haven, CT 06510
United States 
Telephone:      +1-203-865-1933
Website:         www.IbizaNewHaven.com 

Come discover the beauty of Connecticut and its excellent wine and dine scene. 

Read other articles on Connecticut Wines in the Wine Cellar section. Be sure to visit the vineyard websites for additional information and special events schedules. 

For additional information on the Connecticut Wine Trail, please visit: www.CTWine.com. For additional information on Connecticut Grown products, please visit: www.CTGrown.gov.   

© September 2010. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com All rights reserved.

 
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