Leaf Peeping for the Five Senses

Harvest Your Taste Buds Amidst Fall Foliage During Connecticut Wine Trail Events

HARTFORD – September 27, 2006 – A visit to the Connecticut Wine Trail offers fall travelers the opportunity to sample specialty fruit wine, sip newly released local vintages, pick pumpkins, indulge in homemade apple cider donuts, listen to live music and take in the local Connecticut art scene. Whether visiting a winery nestled on acres of trees displaying fall’s vivid rainbow of colors or enjoying an outdoor event, vacationers will find many creative ways to “leaf peep” in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Wine Trail showcases some of the most interesting wines in the country and many of the vineyards have won high-profile awards for their specialty blends. Each winery has its own story, yet all share one thing in common: an appreciation for harvesting fine wine. With 16 wineries offering a variety of fruit and oak blends, tasting a great wine doesn’t have to mean a trip to Napa. A sampling of harvest festivals and winery events this fall include:

Celebrate the Harvest

Hopkins Vineyard in New Preston is the home of Connecticut’s first established wine bar. Beginning in mid-September and continuing through mid-October, the winery holds its annual grape harvest. Indulge in a glass of Hopkins Chardonnay, famous for its complex flavors of toasty oak and ripe apple. Hopkins is located in a 19th century barn, with views of Lake Waramaug and is one of the only farms in the area to be owned by the same family for over 200 years.

Stomp your Cares Away

Visit Jonathan Edwards Winery in North Stonington and enter the grape stomping contest. This year’s Annual Harvest Fest on October 7-8 celebrates the fall grape harvest, with live music, gourmet food and an exhibition of local artists. Children can paint pumpkins and enjoy a hayride. For a truly authentic experience, make sure to take a tour of the winery, led by Jonathan himself.

Get your Sugar Fix Among Changing Leaves

The “Sugar Shack” at McLaughlin Vineyards in Sandy Hook holds fresh maple syrup demonstrations and tours in the early winter months, which includes a tractor ride and watching sap boil into pure syrup. The vineyard’s close proximity to several state forests and the Housatonic River offers hiking trails year-round and bald eagle viewing during the winter. Make sure to reserve tickets to the new “Exploring Connecticut through Wine, Cheese, and Bread” event on October 27. Led by winemaker, Morgen McLaughlin-Smith, guests will sample a variety of wines from small family-owned vineyards, hand-crafted cheeses from local farms and artisan breads from specialty bakeries.

“Pick Your Own” Fruits

From June through October, visitors to Bishop’s Orchards Winery in historic Guilford can enjoy “Pick Your Own” fruits, including strawberries, blueberries, peaches, pears, apples, raspberries and pumpkins. Apple cider donuts are a favorite year-round. The ultimate draw is for the kids, who can pay a visit to the farm’s llamas, alpacas and goats.

Blackberry Sangria or Blueberry Wine?!

Check out the White Silo Winery in Litchfield Hills which offers views of the gardens and mountains. Try a glass of blackberry sangria and homemade Connecticut farm cheese and tour the 1850’s barn, the silo, the art gallery, or sit at the wine bar and enjoy a tasting. An added bonus is that glass artists will showcase their art from November 18 to December 3.

At the Jones Family Vineyard in Shelton, winemaking is a family affair. The farm’s famous berry harvests are incorporated into traditional grape and specialty fruit wines like fresh blueberry wine. This fall, the winery will open a new Harvest Kitchen, offering cooking classes using the freshest homegrown fruits and vegetables. The tasting room is open through November.

Add some Spice to your Life

Try the signature spiced pumpkin wine at DiGrazia Vineyards in Brookfield, famous for its specialty blends and port wine. In fact, DiGrazia won the 2006 “Big E” New England Wine Competition for its Autumn Spice blend. The tasting room is open on weekends from January through April, and then gets back into full swing with daily tastings through the end of the year. Stop in the country gift shop, open year-round, for a gift or bottle of wine.

No Need for Excuses

One of the most notable wineries in Connecticut is Stonington Vineyards in Stonington. The 2nd Annual Benefit Art Exhibit runs through October 15 in the Stonington Vineyards Gallery – a perfect chance to kick back, view artwork from local Connecticut artists, enjoy great food and sample the vineyard’s specialty wines. A chilled glass of white or a full-bodied red makes the ideal accompaniment to a picnic outdoors at the vineyard. A free tour is offered each day at 2 pm and takes curious visitors through each step of the wine making process.

The Proof is in the Pudding

Located in the historic town of Pomfret, Sharpe Hill Vineyard has long been known for its award-winning wine labels. Ballet of Angels, the vineyard’s signature bottle, has received 58 medals in international tastings. The winery is open year-round for tastings and bottles can be purchased every Friday through Sunday. Sharpe Hill Vineyard also offers gourmet dining for lunch and dinner at Fireside Tavern.

Visit the official site of the Connecticut Wine Trail at www.ctwine.com for detailed maps, directions and profiles on the 16 vineyards that comprise the trail. For more details about fall harvest festivals among the fall foliage, as well as the 52 Getaways to Connecticut, including options for accommodations, please call 888-CTvisit (888-288-4748) or log on at www.CTvisit.com. Connecticut offers visitors a multi-faceted wealth of attractions, historical, cultural and recreational activities, diverse and beautiful natural landscapes, parks, beaches and wilderness to fulfill any getaway need.

* For a complete list of events at the sixteen vineyards along the Connecticut Wine Trail, please see the links below.

• Connecticut Wine Trail; www.ctwine.com
• Bishop’s Orchards Winery; www.bishopsorchards.com
• Chamard Vineyard; www.chamard.com
• DiGrazia Vineyard; www.digrazia.com
• Gouveia Vineyards; www.gouveiavineyards.com
• Haight Vineyard; www.haightvineyards.com
• Heritage Trail Vineyards; www.heritagetrail.com
• Hopkins Vineyard; www.hopkinsvineyard.com
• Jerram Winery; www.jerramwinery.com
• Jonathan Edwards Winery; www.jedwardswinery.com
• Jones Family Vineyard ; www.jonesfamilyfarms.com
• McLaughlin Vineyards; www.mclaughlinvineyards.com
• Priam Vineyard; www.priamvineyards.com
• Sharpe Hill Vineyard; www.sharpehill.com
• Stonington Vineyards; www.stoningtonvineyards.com
• Land of Nod Vineyard and Winery; www.ctwine.com
• White Silo Winery; www.whitesilowinery.com

Photo: credited to the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism.

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