Wine and exploration go together any time of year. With that in mind, twelve farm wineries across Connecticut have once again organized the highly anticipated Winter Wine Trail for visitors and residents alike looking for a way to warm up to the season.
From January 8 through April 2, participants can pick up a free passport from any of the 12 participating wineries, and start on a quest to visit each vineyard. Those who are able to check off all 12 participating wineries before the April 2 deadline become eligible to win prizes valued at more than $5,500. Passports must be submitted to one of the participating vineyards by the deadline date. Keep in mind that photocopied booklets or pages will be disqualified. Winners will be chosen by a random drawing held on April 19 and will be notified by email or phone.
There are more than forty-five prizes offered for people who can successfully visit every winery. The Grand Prize is a two- night stay at West 57th Street by Hilton Club in NYC, valued at over $1,000. The first and second prizes are Spa experiences valued at over $475 each, and the third prize, valued at $300 is a one-night stay at the Mystic Marriott. Additional prizes range from restaurant gift cards, including a chef-prepared farm-to-table dinner for eight and a 24 -piece box of chocolates from Milk House Chocolates, to shopping certificates and a bottle of wine, valued up to $30 from each participating vineyard.
“The Winter Wine Trail offers a fun and exciting way for residents and visitors to try award-winning wines made right here in Connecticut while overlooking scenic vineyards,” said Margaret Ruggerio, of The Connecticut Wine Trail and co-owner of Paradise Hills Vineyard and Winery. “It’s the perfect way to beat the winter blues while sipping and swirling your way through winter into spring! Best of all, the Winter Wine Trail gives friends and family a way to expand their palate and learn about the history of winemaking in the state.”
The twelve participating vineyards include the following wineries that will take you on a quest on and off the beaten path making it an excellent day or weekend adventure.
Aquila’s Nest Vineyards, 56 Pole Bridge Road, Sandy Hook. This is an experience-focused, climate-neutral certified vineyard, and event venue beautifully situated on 40 estate acres. Inspired by mythological tales of powerful women and a love of astronomy, this vineyard offers nine heavenly wines seasonally. They offer a fine selection of reds, rose, whites, and zesty Sangria by the pitcher.
Bishop’s Orchards, 1355 Boston Post Road, Guilford. Located in a barn dating to 1928, visitors will experience a superb assortment of award-winning fruit wines and hard ciders made from produce grown here. Bishop’s Orchard also offers a unique wine selection that includes a mix of semi-dry and semi-sweet varieties that are similar to white and blush wines.
Gouveia Vineyards, 1339 Whirlwind Hill Road, Wallingford. Joe Gouveia, originally from Portugal, had a dream to bring the winemaking traditions of his home country to Connecticut…and he has! Built of stone and old timbers, this rustic wine-tasting room has a spectacular hill top location where the views seem to go on forever. A highlight here is to experience a taste of Portugal while sipping on reds and white wines made from 17 varietals that are picked by hand.
Hawk Ridge Winery, 26 Plungis Road, Watertown. Located on 58 bucolic acres of farmland this winery grows eight varietals of grapevines that are used in eleven of their twenty-plus wines that include an evocative selection of dry or sweet, red, white or rose wines. In addition to wine, they offer a large menu of food and appetizers that pair perfectly with their wine, completing this relaxing experience.
Hopkins Vineyard, 25 Hopkins Road, New Preston. This vineyard offers vistas of the blue waters of Lake Waramaug, from its hilltop site. A family farm since 1787, the first Hopkins vines were planted in 1979, and the nineteenth-century barn was converted to a state-of-the-art winery. Wine tastings are offered and favorites can be ordered by the glass or by the bottle, along with cheeses and pates, at The Hayloft, a wine bar with a stunning lake view. This vineyard has won many awards and accolades over the years and is a Nationally designated Bi-Centennial Farm.
Jonathan Edwards Winery, 74 Chester Main Road, North Stonington. The highlight of this vineyard is to sample their portfolio of wines which includes four Estate varietals from their favorite growers in California without having to make the trip out west. Estate Connecticut wines are also handcrafted here. This unique experience allows guests to sample the East and West coast distinctive climates. To accompany the wine in their cozy tasting room cheese and charcuterie that is locally sourced are also available.
Paradise Hills Vineyards, 15 Windswept Hill Road, Wallingford. Unwind in a sunny Tuscan-styled tasting room with its hand-crafted copper bar, decorative chandelier, mahogany tables, and wood-burning fireplace. This cozy tasting room provides the perfect setting to enjoy wine while overlooking the vineyard. Paradise wines have been awarded 85+ points from several renowned wine competitions making sipping a true pleasure while dining on a charcuterie platter.
Priam Vineyards, 11 Shailor Hill Road, Colchester. This vineyard has won numerous International wine competition medals for its wines that are produced in the style of Northern France and Germany. It has been voted the best vineyard in Connecticut for five years in a row. Fifteen handcrafted wines are produced throughout the year in this magical setting with its breathtaking views of the Connecticut countryside. As environmentalists, they practice sustainable agriculture and are vegan-certified.
Sharpe Hill Vineyard, 108 Wade Road, Pomfret. This vineyard has won over 450 medals in International tastings and offers reds, whites and rose in a setting of great natural beauty. It is such a treat to sip on a refreshing chardonnay or a robust cabernet while gazing out over 100-plus acres with vistas that stretch to Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Stonington Vineyards, 523 Taugwonk Road, Stonington. This is one of the first farm wineries established in Connecticut and a founding member of the Connecticut Wine Trail. They are best known for their barrel-fermented Chardonnay and their proprietary blends, Seaport White and Triad Rose. Their European-style table wines have won many awards.
Sunset Meadow Vineyards, 599 Old Middle Street, Goshen. This family-owned and operated nationally and internationally award-winning vineyard is located on over 40 acres of sloping fields overlooking the picturesque sunsets and scenery of the Western Connecticut Highlands. In addition to winning many national and international medals for their wines, Sunset Meadow has been named one of the best 101 Wineries in America by the Daily Meal. In addition to tasting by the glass or bottle, they offer specialty chocolate and wine pairing as well as a variety of cheeses from local artisans.
Taylor Brooke Winery, 818 Route 171, Woodstock. This family-owned vineyard has 17 acres of wine production and has recently opened a brewery on 27 acres that are adjacent to the winery offering guests a double experience. Sparkling, dry whites, semi-sweet whites, red, still rose, and dessert wines abound here. For a change of pace, try the Spirit of Woodstock brandy that is aged like bourbon.
About the Connecticut Wine Trail
The Connecticut Wine Trail is one of the most exciting and fastest-growing wine regions in the United States. Made up of 22 participating wineries and vineyards throughout the state of Connecticut, the CT Wine Trail offers a tremendous variety of wine styles and stunning scenery—enjoyable in every season.