By Evamarie Gomez
Buy your tickets early and online. The advantage is that the tickets online are offered at a slightly discounted rate.
Get there before or after peak time: Yes, it?s a two-day affair but, it gets packed fairly quickly. We arrived around 3pm on a Sunday, which afforded us a great parking space and shorter tasting lines. The downside was that we missed the grape stomp and some of the musical acts. Also, one winery ran out of one specific wine as well. That?s how busy they were!
Read the brochure, plan your attack, pace yourselves, and eat. After we wrapped up our tastings in the first building, we made our way to the food trucks for some sustenance. There were a ton of great concessions, but we opted for pulled chicken sandwich from Zach and Lous Barbecue (YUM). We finished our lunch with booze pops from Popcentric. You read that right ? booze pops.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes: Heels have their place but I would be remiss not to warn against it. Between the grass parking lot, dirt and gravel grounds and alcohol consumption, you may find yourself in an unfortunate situation. Better off to wear flats, sneakers, sandals or even espadrilles. Regarding outfits, the festival is held in July, so shorts, maxi dresses and other summer-like clothes are a must to beat the heat. I?d also bring a rain coat or umbrella to be prepared for a chance of rain. While the tastings are held in air-conditioned buildings, you can?t escape from sweltering temperatures.
Play nice and #winedown: At first glance the lines appear long, but don?t be discouraged. While you may have to wait a few minutes before getting your first drop of Cabernet or Chardonnay, the turnaround is fairly quick as each winery can only serve four tastings.
TIP: If you?re traveling as a duo, find another pair to share a tasting with. It?ll cut the time spent in line and you may make friends!
Take pictures: Since wineries are limited to serving four tastings per person, the lines move pretty quickly. As a result, you don?t have much time to take down tasting notes. Instead, use your smartphone to snap pictures of your favorite wines. This is a quick and convenient way of remembering what wines and wineries you enjoyed most. Don?t forget to tag @ctwinetrail21 and #MyCTWineTrail if you share photos on social media!
Have a Designated Driver: Let?s face it, even if you didn?t intend to overdo it, it can be easy to consume a little too much vino. After all, it is a wine festival. If you?re traveling in a group of friends, it?s a good idea to pick a designated driver. Sweeten the deal by buying their ticket, a bottle of wine to take home, or repay the favor next year. If you didn?t appoint a friend as the designated driver and are incapable of driving, call a taxi or request an Uber. Also, if you?re commuting across the state, think about booking a local hotel room in advance.
Above all, have fun! This event is intended as a celebration of the hard work and dedication the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association have put forth to make this region one of the fastest growing in the United States.
Share with us: Did you attend the CT Wine Festival? If so, what was your experience? What were your favorite wines and why? Besides the wine tastings, what was your favorite part of the festival? Leave a comment below or submit your story!