If you're reading this article, you're most likely adventurous…at least when it comes to food. You look to CTbites.com as a guide for new culinary experiences, so we'd like to take this opportunity to broaden your horizons from the plate to your glass. Allow me to introduce Jodi and Garrett Stonehouse of Aventine Hills Wine Importers with wines featured at local restaurants including Paci, Quattro Pazzi, Osianna, Aqua, Tarantino's, Fat Cat, Rowayton Seafood, and The Schoolhouse, just to name a few.
It all began back in 2006 when Jodi and Garrett discovered a love of Italy, and more specifically of the wine in Italy. They knew next-to-nothing about the business, but they had a vision to share the amazing wines they loved from Italy with the people they love at home, in Fairfield County. Before long they received the proper permits and set out to develop the best wine list they could. This is where we all get sad that we didn't know Jodi and Garrett back in 2006, because the way they selected the wines is quite enviable. With some help from an Italian wine specialist, they developed a list of 50 producers, all of whom sent samples for them to try. But being a small, local business just starting out, they had to narrow that list down. So, they held blind tasting parties for their friends and family. Price, label and varietal where unknown, so the guests could only rate the wines based on taste. At the end of several tastings, they had 11 producers they were proud to work with. With their wine list set, they began to sell in their wines to local restaurants and retail stores.
Since then, the Stonehouses have achieved great success. They care deeply about the customer experience, and work with restaurants that are knowledgeable about their wine and are able to expose diners to new varietals.
For example, if you are looking to enjoy a red wine on a beautiful night on the water, head to Rowayton Seafood and try the Bacco en Toscana by Guado al Melo. 80% Sangiovese, 20% Syrah. With great spice, warm bouquet and herbs with hints of dark fleshed fruits, this wine is the perfect choice for the red wine lover.
Perhaps you’re enjoying a salad and pizza at Fat Cat. Why not try to the La Cappuccina Soave by the glass? It’s a crisp, fresh white with slight hints of floral and fruit.
And if you’re looking for a real treat, make your way to Paci in Southport on Tuesday night and try the burger with Aventine Hills’ Croce di Mezzo 2004 Brunello or the Rossi di Montalcino 2007.
And if you’re interested in embarking on your own wine sampling at home, stop by these local shops to pick up a bottle: Twisted Vine in Fairfield, Greens Farms Liquor, Saugatuck Grain & Grape and Liquor Locker in Westport, Cellar XV in Ridgefield, New Canaan Wine Merchants in New Canaan, Glenville Wines in Greenwich and Fountainhead in Norwalk.
Jodi and Garrett prefer to work with family vineyards that grow their own grapes and make their own wine. So from seed to sip, these families ensure that your wine has been cultivated with love and a respect for the land and the process. And once their family has made the wine, the Stonehouse family brings it to you so that you, too, can enjoy the wines that sparked a passion in them.
So if you can't make it to Italy this weekend, but you're craving something new, pick up a bottle of Aventine Hills wine or try a glass at your favorite restaurant.