By Vanessa Willoughby
Perhaps Connecticut isn’t best known for its vineyards, but the Constitution State has its fair share of top-notch vineyards. From Hartford to Stonington, Connecticut vineyards are making their mark, attracting residents and tourists from near and far. Whether you’re a wine newbie or wine expert, we rounded up local vineyards that will be sure to excite your taste buds.
115 Cow Hill Road
Clinton, CT 06413
Tasting Hours: Tues to Sun – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends until 9 p.m. in season, visit website for seasonal hours
Tours: weekends at 1 p.m.
Price: Tastings are $10, tours are complimentary, wines by the glass $6-$8
Situated in Clinton, the Chamard Vineyards boats the following variety of vineyards: 16 acres of Chardonnay, 1 ½ acres of Merlot, 1 acre of Cabernet Sauvignon, 1 acre of Cabernet Franc, and ½ acre of Pinot Noir. Currently, Chamard Vineyards produces 13,000 gallons/6,000 cases of wine. Owned and purchased by Dr. Jonathan M. Rothberg since the fall of 2005, this 40-acre vineyard is committed to producing fine wines from classic European wine grapes. Due to its close proximity to the Long Island Sound, the climate encourages a lengthy and warm growing season.
131 Tower Road
Brookfield, CT 06804
Tasting Hours: Jan to April 30th: Sat and Sun – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
May to Dec: Open 7 days a week 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tours: Every 20 minutes Saturday and Sunday
Price: About $6 to $15
Originally founded in 1978, DiGrazia Vineyards offers over 15 wines, ranging from dry to sweet, using estate grown grapes, local fruit and honey. Founder Dr. Paul Digrazia produces wine that has a clean, crisp, signature style. Additionally, he is highly interested in high antioxidant wines. The two DiGrazia Vineyards grow premium French Hybrid grape varieties exclusively. Have a few hours to spare? After the tour, guests can plan a picnic on the arbor patio.
25 Hopkins Road
New Preston, CT 06777
Tasting Hours: Jan to Feb: Fri and Sat – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
March to April: Wed to Sat – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
May to Dec: Mon to Sat – 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sun – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tours: Visitors are open to take the self guided tour at anytime the vineyard is open
Price: Guided Tours – Minimum of 20 people at $10 per person
Located on the northern shore of Lake Waramaug, Hopkins Vineyard is a family-owned Connecticut Century Farm. In the past, the farm hosted a multitude of varying agricultural life and crops, including the raising of sheep, race horses, grain crops, tobacco, and most recently, dairy farming. In 1979, the first vines were planted and the 19th century barn was converted into a winery. Among other awards, this 30-acre vineyard has won the Best of Show, double gold medal in the Amenti Del Vino International Wine Competition.
Maugle Sierra Vineyards
825 Colonel Ledyard Highway (on CT Route 117)
Ledyard, CT 06339
Tasting Hours: Open Year Round: Sat and Sun – 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Jan to Feb: Fri to Sun – 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Mar to April: Thurs to Sun – 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
May 1st to Nov 24th: Wed to Sun – 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and select holidays.
Tastings end at 5:30 p.m. on Fri, Sat and Sun
Open day after Thanksgiving-New Year’s Eve, 7 days a week for wine sales.
Tours: Self guided
Prices: Tastings for groups of 10 and larger $12
Maugle Sierra Vineyards is a specialty winery nestled in the hills of Ledyard, Connecticut. Situated 10 minutes north of Mystic Seaport and the Mystic Aquarium, the vineyard is also home to a 97-acre farm just minutes from the coastline. Officially founded in 2002 by owners Paul and Betty Maugle, the vineyard possesses 11 acres in grape production. Dr. Maugle is especially noted for his “chewy, jammy and intensively fruit forward wines.”
Saltwater Farm Vineyard
349 Elm Street
Stonington, CT 06378
Tasting Hours: April to Nov: Open Wed and Thurs – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Fri to Sun – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; or by appointment
Dec to Mar: Check website for hours; check for occasional early closings or private events.
Closed Mon and Tues
Surrounded by Long Island Sound, this stunning vineyard is situated on more than 100 picturesque acres—15 of which are planted with six varieties of grapes. Interestingly enough, Saltwater Farm Vineyard contains a bit of history, as well. The property claims a small private airport dating back to the late 1930s, including a vintage hangar designed by noted architect John W. Lincoln. Owners Michael and Merrily Connery offer the following wines: Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay, and Sauvignon Blanc.
29 Chestnut Hill Road
Litchfield, CT 06759
Tasting Hours: May-November: Open daily – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Off Season: Open weekends – 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tours: By appointment only
Price: Tasting $8.50 with a signature glass of wine
In 1978, Haight Vineyard gained the title of Connecticut’s first established winery. Currently, the Haight experiences new ownership. Courtney Brown and Amy Senew purchased Haight Vineyard from its founder, Sherman Haight Jr., in March, 2007. These beautiful 24 acres are a modern symbol of New England winery. Wines include Morning Harvest, Big Red, Honey Nut Apple, and Apricot Moon, among others.
Vanessa Willoughby lives in Waterford. A recent graduate of The New School’s MFA program, she also blogs for the entertainment and music website, 411mania.com