Despite the overcast weather with a few passing rain showers predicted, it was still a beautiful day to visit Saltwater Farm Vineyard in Stonington on May 29 to celebrate Memorial Day. The winery was hosting “Memorial Day Music,” featuring an acoustic guitar duo based out of Rhode Island– The Choos – who performed covers of classic tunes while guests were able to enjoy wine and have oysters by Mystic Oyster Company.
I was excited to attend the event, as I’d only been to this vineyard once before; my last visit had been short but memorable. I knew I wanted to come back and enjoy this amazing space. As I approached the entrance to the vineyard, I was greeted by a kind gentleman saying “Welcome to Saltwater Farm.” It gave me a feeling of “arriving at home” vs. attending an event.
As I entered the winery building, which according to their website is an impeccably restored World War II-era airplane hangar, I saw rows and rows of beautiful black, dark and shiny labeled and unlabeled wine bottles highlighted by a pink glow behind them to either side of me. The gorgeous wooden ceiling and walls gave a sense of ambiance. I felt like I was entering a mysterious new world and I couldn’t wait to explore all it had to offer!
As I walked ahead, to my right was a fireplace setting with comfy chairs across from a small wine bar. As I proceeded past that area I entered a large open space with tables for guests to sit at and enjoy their wine and picnics. Above them were twinkling lights strung across the ceiling. The tables were flanked by large wine barrels and behind them were even larger stainless steel tanks. And, on this special holiday, a beautiful wood painted American Flag was on the wall above the tanks.
I decided to go upstairs to the Mezzanine Tasting Room to try some of Saltwater Farm’s wine. At the top of the stairs I could see the vineyard to my left through the large glass windows, and to my right was the bar and an open space with wine barrels set up as tables. I could see the whole building down to the open space, the barrels and tanks and the guitar duo preparing downstairs in the corner by the fireplace. The twinkling fairy lights were even more spectacular upstairs.
As I stepped up to the tasting bar, I was greeted by Lori and James. Lori and I had met before and she was just as enchanting as she was during my first visit. She and James were both so helpful in providing me the wine tasting menu and then pouring me each of the four wines to try. The first wine, their 2015 Sauvignon Blanc was aged in stainless steel tanks and was a combination of Norfolk Long Island and Saltwater Farm grapes. It was a light, crisp, refreshing and fruity white. The second wine was another white, their 2016 Estate Chardonnay aged in stainless steel tanks and entirely made from Saltwater Farm’s grapes. It was another light variety with a bit of citrus flavor and a bit of acidity.
I noticed a bottle behind the bar called “Runway” and asked Lori about it. She said she would be happy to give me a taste as I’m a blogger for the CT Wine Trail, even though this wine wasn’t released for the tasting room menu just yet. What a treat! Lori let me know it was a 2016 vintage and a white blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer and aged in stainless steel tanks. It was light with a refreshing smell on the nose and a light buttery aftertaste that was quite unexpected. It was a little creamy but mostly light. I enjoyed the special taste. It is something to look forward to in the future at Saltwater Farm!
Next, I was poured some of their 2015 Cabernet Rosé from the tasting menu. This wine was a combination of Long Island and Saltwater Farm grapes, aged in stainless steel. It was light in color with strawberry hints and a lingering fruity finish. The last wine, a 2013 Estate Cabernet Franc, was a rich red color with a smoky smell, and rich smooth taste.
Once I finished my tasting, I proceeded to wander through the glass doors, with a glass of wine in hand of course, to see better views of the vineyard below and Long Island Sound on the horizon. I stood on the deck and looked out at the water beyond the vines. I felt so relaxed and refreshed.
But, as predicted, it did start to rain so I ventured back indoors. The tasting room, and in fact the whole winery, was hopping. People were tasting wine, sitting at the tables below with their picnics, families, and chasing kids through the open area. Others were enjoying their wine at the wine barrels in the Mezzanine and other people were enjoying the cozy fire near the entrance. The Choos were playing tunes by bands and singers such as Pink Floyd, Simon & Garfunkel, Allman Brothers, Tears for Fears, Elvis, The Eagles, The Beatles, Elton John and many other favorites. All in all, a really fun and inviting environment.
I headed downstairs and found a spot along the wine bar across from the fireplace to listen to The Choos and enjoy my wine. The afternoon flew by, and as I made my way to end my visit, I stopped at one of the wine barrels that is by the entrance to look for my keys in my purse and another gentleman came over to me and said, “Thank you so much for visiting us. Have a great afternoon.” It was so nice. I really felt like I had visited friends and can’t wait for my next trip to Saltwater Farm Vineyard. I encourage you to make the trip to Stonington to have your own special adventure at this gem of a winery along the CT Wine Trail.