August 14, 2011

Connecticut Wine Trail: Part Deux

I've spent a whole lot of time this past summer with my in-laws. Amazingly, that's not a bad thing. In fact, they are pretty damn cool, and I readily admit that I'm very lucky in that respect.

This summer alone, my husband and I have been to - count 'em - eight wineries with the in-laws as our drinking buddies. In an earlier post, I promised to chronicle the wineries I've been checking out this year. Well, here we go.

The Gator (otherwise known as my father-in-law),
complete with bourbon and a cigar.
Let's start with my father-in-law, otherwise known as The Gator. A Southerner at heart (a South Carolina native), he serves not only as designated driver on our winery trips, but also as entertainment. On a regular basis, he comes out with such priceless nuggets of advice as: "You can't ever get hung over if you just keep on drinkin' "
- (a quotation that, in fact, sent one passing stranger in the parking lot at Digrazia Vineyards into hysterics). This is a man who drives a Honda Pilot with a plastic hula girl on the dashboard. (I went to the Kentucky Derby with this man earlier this year. Good times, I tell you. Again, I promise we'll discuss further in a future post.)

My mother-in-law and husband,
blowing it up at Maugle Sierra. Awww yeah.
Anyway. My mother-in-law is fabulous, fun, and very social - and loves to drink just as much as I do. And so we get along famously. She grew up in New Britain, Conn., the land of my people. I'm 50% Polish, and Hard Hittin' New Britain is the land of the Poles (i.e., the city with the biggest Polish population of any city in this state). So my point is, she's cool (see illustration at right).

I digress, but I'm trying to set the stage here for you. If you want to make a day of visiting wineries, these are most certainly the folks with whom you should be hanging.

One of our summer winery excursions included a trip to the southeastern corner of the state, where we visited Saltwater Farm Vineyard, Stonington Vineyards, as well as Jonathan Edwards Winery in North Stonington and Maugle Sierra Vineyards in Ledyard. (That's right, all in one day. No judgment.)

Hanging at Jonathan Edwards. 
Now, wine is all very subjective, so you may hate wines that I adore, and vice versa. BUT if you love Gewurztraminers, and love to just say that word, as I do, then Jonathan Edwards' 2010 Estate Connecticut Gewurztraminer is something to check out.

If you're looking for a wedding venue, dude, go check out Saltwater Farm Vineyards in Stonington. It's a wedding machine; those people are forever setting up for a ceremony. A former airplane hangar, the inside is all dark hardwood and amazingly gorgeous, and the grounds are situated right by the tidal marshes. Beeeautiful.

Stonington Vineyards in, well, Stonington has a perfectly low-key atmosphere and friendly folks behind the bar, where you can not only taste wine but wine-soaked CAKE. Oh my Lord, people, it is deeelicious. Sponge cake soaked in their Seaport White. My mother-in-law and I downed that thing in no time flat. Wow.

Maugle Sierra's strongpoint, in my mind anyway, is the St. Croix. Love, love, love. It's jammy and nummy (that's right, I said nummy) without being sweet. My only problem with this wine is that when we bring our bottles of it back home, we find that we need to store it vertically; if we've got it rested horizontally on the wine rack, these babies inevitably leak. Not sure what's going on there, and we've mentioned it to the vineyard's owner, but no dice. You've been warned. But honestly, it's so good we don't really care how we store it, as long as it gets home with us.

Well, there you have it - a few wineries for you to explore in one corner of Connecticut. The cost of a wine tasting seems to change a bit from year to year, but rest assured that you can often get a tasting from anywhere from $6-$10 'round these parts, which is just right in my book. And then you can buy a bottle or glass to enjoy there with your picnic, or else bring some home to enjoy with friends.

Lots more to come on the wine front in the coming weeks (Gator included). Stay tuned.


  1. My wife and I have been to most of the wineries in CT, and I've blogged about all our visits on our blog,, and we also liked many of the ones you mention. Stonington's Seaport White is to die for. We're Realtors in Wallingford so we are also partial to our own wineries, Gouveia's and Paradise Hills. If you haven't been to those I highly recommend a visit! If you let us know when you're coming, we'd love to meet you for a glass of wine! Good luck in this year's Passport drawing!

    Wayne Harriman

  2. Thanks so much for the comment! I *do* have to make my way to Paradise Hills this year (and I've heard great things); I've been to Gouveia a few different times and will be blogging about them in the near future. And P.S. I'm always up for a glass of wine, so I'll have to try to plan ahead for my next Wallingford visit! And now, I'm off to check out your blog...