By Susan Hayes
29 Chestnut Hill Rd.
Litchfield, CT 06759
Sixteen acre Haight-Brown winery is the oldest Connecticut winery, but continues to lure visitors with their cozy rustic tasting room, well- crafted wines and picturesque Litchfield county location. At Haight –Brown, you can sit at the tasting room bar and enjoy either a wine tasting alone or coupled with an artisan cheese and chocolate tasting. The pourers are knowledgeable and amiable, willing to expound on the wines you are experiencing. The winery offers a number of wine related items for sale, as well as all of the wines, cheeses and chocolates you have just enjoyed. Their Big Red wine, a bold, dry, peppery cabernet, while not made from home grown grapes, is must buy. Haight’sRiesling is an unexpected treat for those willing to stray from the trendy favorites and embrace an old German style off- dry wine.
Sunset Meadow Vineyards
599 Old Middle Street
Goshen, CT 06756
Sunset Meadow vineyard is a short drive over hill and dale from Haight-Brown to the town of Goshen. Wood smoke perfumes the air as you enter the tasting room which is heated by a wood stove and is particularly warm and cozy. You can stand at the tasting bar and enjoy a tasting of Sunset Meadow wines, taking away a souvenir glass or purchase a glass or bottle and have a seat in front of the fire. Goshen’s own Nodine smoke house cheese is generally for sale along with crackers and chocolates to make it an indoor picnic. Take home the Twisted Red, SMV’s blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, lemberger and chambouran. Don’t let the unfamiliar grape types scare you off; this is an oak aged wine you will want to serve this at your next dinner party. Cayuga White, a crisp mostly dry white wine is a multiple award winner and made from grapes grown on the estate. This wine is a good introduction to what the SMV winery is producing and a worthy pairing with food that demands a white wine.
1339 Whirlwind Hill Rd
Wallingford, CT 06492
Heading southeast, an unexpected gem of a winery can be found in the Wallingford hills, Gouveia Vineyards. This winery expanded in May of 2007 and opened a gorgeous well-appointed tasting room. Gouveia’s larger tasting rooms have ample comfortable seating to settle in to for a glass of wine or perhaps some nibbles for sale there at the winery. Like all of the wineries, you can take away an etched glass if you choose the tasting, but the gorgeous views invite you to settle in and relax for a bit. Be aware however that some folks set up impromptu get together in their space with the only requirement being you purchase their wine or beverages, so a visit on the earlier or later side may ensure seating in one of the tasting rooms. While there, my party purchased theirStonehouse Red, a sultry blend of merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon and relished every drop.
Maugle Sierra Vineyards
825 Colonel Ledyard Highway (On CT Route 117)
Ledyard, CT – 06339
Finally, a treasure in the woods of Ledyard, close but seemingly miles away from Foxwoods casino is the Maugle Sierra winery. Their dark wood beamed tasting room dons worn oriental rugs strewn about and restful seating arranged in conversational groupings. Artistic touches abound. You feel as if you are seated in your most stylish wine loving friend’s living room and you will want nothing more than to kick back, relax and soak up the vibe. Maugle Sierra’s, Espirita de Saint Croix, their estate grown, aged in oak, red wineis their pride and joy and a feather in their cap. This wine is the one to sip as you ponder impending spring days.
Connecticut boasts a number of wineries these days, but these four are especially inviting on lazy March days when cabin fever has gotten the best of you.
Susan Hayes works at a local High School in her spare time, but her true passion lies in culinary pursuits, cooking, gardening, blogging and discovering new dining spots. Her work can be found at http://www.blackcatcookingchronicles.blogspot.com.