At this time of year, the crisp sunny days, and cool nights, have me itching to get out and do something “harvesty." We are lucky enough to have access to several excellent local vineyards, with a great variety of activities for singles, couples and families. I can’t think of a better way to spend a beautiful autumn day, than to relax and unwind, sipping a local wine with some fantastic nibbles (either provided by the vineyard or toted along in your picnic basket) and enjoying life set on a vineyard!
During the next few weeks Harvest Celebrations will abound. Vineyards will all be hosting special events that are sure to entice any wine enthusiast. Following is a guide to local vineyards to help you get started on your autumnal wine tripping: (Contact the vineyards ahead to get the latest up-to the minute scoop on current happenings.)
Jones Family Farm Winery Tasting Room, 606 Walnut Tree Hill Rd in Shelton, CT, is located in a beautiful old dairy barn on the property of the farm. Hours are Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11am-5pm.
After only six years of producing wine, the Jones Winery was the recipient of Connecticut Magazine’s 2010 “Best Connecticut Wine”. I love the setting of their tasting room, and the new Harvest Kitchen, a demonstration kitchen, designed to host educational cooking classes and wine events. Friday Night Family Wine Down’s are fun for families. While you taste wine and enjoy local cheeses and nibbles in the tasting room, your children enjoy time on the farm and getting some attention of their own. The next one is coming up on Friday, September 17. To register for this fun family night (how often do you get to enjoy an adult night out, and know your kids are having a blast too?) go to their web site. If you go to the farm during the day, you can “pick your own”, too. Check the website to see what’s seasonal.
For more info call 203-929-8425, or visit their web site at: www.JonesFamilyFarms.com.
McLaughlin Vineyards, 14 Albert’s Hill Road, Sandy Hook, CT is open year round from Wednesday-Sunday 11:00am- 5:30pm.
Driving along the winding, country road to McLaughlin Vineyard, reminded me of my ramblings down long, gravel roads through vineyards in Tuscany! At the end of this country road, I was delighted to see this little gem of a 19th century barn converted to the tasting room and winery. Outside, there is a tent set-up for listening to live local musical talent on weekends, and to sit out and enjoy the beautiful vineyard setting below. While I was there, a local Bluegrass band was playing; patrons brought picnics and sat drinking the delicious McLaughlin wines, while listening to music. If you are into hiking, bring your walking shoes and walk through their 160 acres of hiking trails amidst maple trees, which borders the Housatonic River and is a natural habitat for bald eagles. This winery property is quite beautiful and I was thrilled to find this hidden gem right here in Fairfield County! Check out their upcoming Harvest Festival on September 25 and 26. For more info call 203-426-1533, or visit their website.
A fifteen minute drive from McLaughlin Vineyards is a wonderful place to learn about the science of winemaking:
DiGrazia Vineyards, 131 Tower Road, in Brookfield CT Is open from April-December 31, open seven days a week, 11:00am-5:00pm.
If you are into the science and health benefits of wine, I suggest you pay a visit to DiGrazia Vineyards, and meet the proprietor and vineyard owner, Dr. Paul DiGrazia. While I was there, I got the chance to discuss most of the two dozen wines produced from estate-grown fruit, including the high anti-oxidant wines, with the tasting room manager and Dr. DiGrazia himself.
Dr. DiGrazia, who presides over the entire growing and winemaking process, is truly a “doctor of the vine”, although he still maintains his day job as a local medical doctor, his passion is his wine!
He was one of the first to believe that good wine could be made in Connecticut. He was captivating to listen to, and I was lucky enough to get a tour of the wine production facilities and enjoy a mini-lesson on wine making and the chemistry of wine.
Call ahead if you want to meet Dr. DiGrazia and have him take you through the wine tour. While you are there, also enjoy the tasting room, country gift shop and picnic area under the arbor patio. Don’t forget to ask for a taste of some local cheese to compliment the delicious wines.
For more info call 203-775-1616, or visit their web site.