The Passport Contest on the CT Wine Trail
Connecticut has a wine trail with some interesting and delightful wines.
Every year, the CT Wine Trail conducts a Passport contest from May until November.
The rules state that you have to go to a tasting at some number of the listed wineries and get your Passport stamped. First and second prizes are a trip for two to the south of Spain in the dead of winter.
I’ve noted some of my impressions of the wineries below in alphabetical order. The ones I have yet to visit follow in the second list.
Bear in mind, I am not a wine connoisseur by any stretch of the imagination. I just like local wine. It tastes good, it’s good for you (in moderation), and is a time-honored method of preserving the grape harvest. I apologize that I don’t have all the lingo down, even though I took the 5 S’s of Wine Tasting class. To me, the wine is still dry or sweet, pleasant or not, something to buy or not. I am excited that I am now able to smell berries, vanilla, and a couple of other distinct aromas. I don’t say yummy as much. Still, the joy is in the exploration and the discovery.
Also bear in mind, I favor reds. Cabernet Franc is my favorite. I really don’t like whites. Also, I generally drink wine with meals which changes the taste experience. I’ve noticed that often the wines taste different later, once you get them home and out of the close proximity of the other wines at the tasting.
Wineries I’ve visited
Connecticut Valley Winery, 1480 Litchfield Turnpike (Route 202) New Hartford, CT 06057 (860) 489-WINE. Owned and operated by the Ferraro family. I like their Black Tie Cabernet Franc (California inside), Spumanti, and Chianti (66% estate grown).
DiGrazia Vineyards, 131 Tower Rd., Brookfield, CT 06804, (203) 775-1616. Dr. Digrazia, founder and winemaker, is particularly interested in producing high antioxidant wines. I like their Newbury and their Wild Blue.
Gouveia Vineyards, 1339 Whirlwind Hill Road, Wallingford, CT 06492, (203) 265-5526. Their Cabernet Franc is okay.
Haight-Brown Vineyard, Chestnut Hill, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4045. The Picnic Red is 100% estate grown Marechal Foch and while slightly sweeter than I prefer, chilled it is well-liked by friends.
Heritage Trail Winery, 291 North Burnham Highway, Lisbon, CT 06351, (860) 376-0659. Most of their wines (except the Cab Franc) are made from estate-grown grapes. They have a fabulous space and cafe featuring Chef Harry.
Hopkins Vineyard, 25 Hopkins Road, New Preston, CT 06777 (860) 868-7954. One of Connecticut’s most famous wineries. Their Cab Franc is good. Their ice wine is sweet, pricey, divine, and meant to be sipped.
Jerram Winery, 535 Town Hill Rd. (Rte. 219), New Hartford, CT 06057 (860) 379-8749. Jim is an intense vintner. Their wines are 80% of estate-grown grapes. I like the Highland Reserve (entirely estate grown Cab Franc and Foch) and Marechal Foch.
Jones Winery, 606 Walnut Tree Hill Road, Shelton, CT 06484 (203) 929-8425. Pleasant space, decent wines. A fairly decent Cabernet Franc.
Land of Nod Winery, 99 Lower Road, East Canaan, CT 06024, (860) 824-5225. Wines are heavily sweet, mostly fruit-based (not grapes). I’m not really a fan of these kinds of wines.
McLaughlin Vineyards, 14 Albert’s Hill Road, Sandy Hook, CT 06482, (203) 426-1533. This is the hometown vineyard where Dee Dee gives an excellent tasting. Vista Riposa remains a favorite, even though Bruce changed the mix.
Miranda Vineyard, 42 Ives Road, Goshen, CT 06756, (860) 491-9906. This is an outstanding place with warm folks. My favorites are the Goshen Farmhouse Red and Vinho Fino, a white port-like wine. (I’m thinking that because they’re of Portuguese descent, they should be allowed to call it a Port, even though it’s American!
Priam Vineyards, 11 Shailor Hill Road, Colchester, CT 06415, (860) 267-8520. All of their wines are from estate-grown grapes. The Essence of St. Croix, a port-style wine is really, really nice.
Rosedale Farms & Vineyard, 25 East Weatogue Street, Simsbury, CT 06070 (860) 651-3926.
Savino Vineyards, 128 Ford Road, Woodbridge, CT 06525, (203) 389-2050. A new vineyard with a Cab Franc, which was not available the day of my tasting…
Sharpe Hill Vineyard, 108 Wade Road, Pomfret, CT 06258, (860) 974-3549. Their Cabernet Franc is the best in CT—well worth the nearly two hour drive! Everyone I serve this wine to loves it and it is by far the most requested wine among guests in my home! It’s also a beautiful vineyard with a lovely restaurant (I hear—make a reservation way in advance!).
Sunset Meadows Vineyards, 599 Old Middle Street Route 63 Goshen, CT 06756, (860) 201-4654. They do St. Croix right and may just be the best St. Croix in the state. New Dawn is also quite nice.
Taylor Brooke Winery, 848 Rte. 171, Woodstock, CT 06281, (860) 974-1263. Nice place with a fun tasting. They make a decent Cabernet Franc and it’s a shame they’re discontinuing it.
Walker Road Vineyards, Walker Road, Woodbury, CT (203) 263-0768. I enjoyed their red wine long before I had a chance to visit. It’s a simple table wine that seems to go well with most of the meals I cook.
White Silo Winery, 32 Route 37 East, Sherman, CT 06784, (860) 355-0271. Theirs are mostly fruit (not grape) wines. I don’t normally go for that sort of thing, but am willing to make an exception for theirs.
Wineries I’ve yet to visit
Bishop’s Orchards, 1355 Boston Post Road, Guilford, CT 06437, (866) 2BISHOP.
Cassidy Hill Vineyard, 454 Cassidy Hill Road, Coventry, CT 06238, (860) 498-1126.
Chamard Vineyards, 115 Cow Hill Road, 115 Cow Hill Road, Clinton, CT 06413, (860) 664-0299.
Dalice Elizabeth Winery, 6 Amos Rd, Preston, CT, (860) 889- 9198.
Holmberg Orchards & Winery, 12 Orchard Ln, Gales Ferry, CT 06335, (860) 464-7305.
Jonathan Edwards Winery, 74 Chester Main Road, North Stonington, CT 06359, (860) 535-0202.
Maugle Sierra Vineyards, 825 Colonel Ledyard Highway (on CT Route 117), Ledyard, CT 06339, (860) 464-2987.
Stonington Vineyards, 523 Taugwonk Road, Stonington, CT 06378, (860) 535-1222.
North Winds Vineyard, 471 Lake Winnemaug Road, Watertown, CT 06795, (203) 233-3941.