One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to visit vineyards in our great state. In July I headed to the southeastern coast of Connecticut to experience two of my favorite such places.
First I drove to Stonington, a beautiful shore town. Upon driving up the gravel path that leads to the entrance of Stonington Vineyards, I saw the clean lines of the main building with its pergola and porch, and the beautiful green vines approach in the distance.
Entering the bright and air conditioned main building; the skylights and tasting bar were so welcoming and a refreshing environment to enjoy new wines, I’m greeted by some very eager and friendly ladies behind the bar –Ebbie and two other very helpful employees – ready to help me get started in my tasting experience. As it was a Friday, the atmosphere was busy, jovial, and altogether inviting.
Carving out a spot for myself at the bar, I learned about whites, their specialty, their most popular being their “Stone Cold White” and I also tried a red, for a small extra charge. Delicious! I was a solo participant vs. the pairs and small groups who had come to experience the wines of this vineyard, and whenever I was trying a wine, one of the tasting room ladies made sure to check on me, chat with me and overall, make sure I was enjoying every bit of my wine and my tasting.
When I had tried all the wines being offered, I bought a bottle of “Sheer Chardonnay,” which was my favorite, to put in my car for enjoyment later on in the summer. I then joined Ebbie and four other visitors on a tour of Stonington Vineyards.
Since the vines had been sprayed that morning, and it was windy, we were not allowed to go into the vineyards as part of the tour. Despite that slightly disappointing sidetrack, the tour was informative and intimate. We learned some history on the vineyard, got to see the cellar where the wine was stored and then how it was bottled. The size of the tour gave everyone the opportunity to ask questions and really interact with Ebbie. She let us know they have Summer Music on Friday and Saturday nights in the vineyards with food trucks and of course, wine. There is a movie night in August, where an inflatable screen is set up to showcase a wine themed movie. Bring your picnic, or try some of the food provided by a local vendor, and enjoy a bottle of wine while watching the show in the vineyard. In September there is a Harvest Food & Wine Festival taking place over a Saturday and Sunday with food, entertainment and of course wine!
After the tour was over, I decided to peruse the brochures and fun wine themed gifts – kitchen towels, magnets and wine coolers – that are located in the adjoining room to where wines were being tasted and then headed back to the tasting bar and ordered a glass of Sheer Chardonnay to sip and enjoy while I sat on the main deck of the vineyard. It was such a gorgeous summer afternoon with clear, cloudless skies and just the right amount of breeze to keep me cool under a bright sun.
Once my glass was empty, and I’d had a few snacks and water that I brought with me, I headed to my next destination, Jonathan Edwards Winery in North Stonington.
Making the turn onto Chester Maine Road, the road that leads to Jonathan Edwards Winery, I enjoyed the sign at the end of the road that indicates there’s a vineyard ahead — a bottle of wine and a glass with an arrow pointing towards the vineyard.
The approach to the winery was a longer road, but then, as if out of nowhere, the main building and barn appeared in a gleaming white with stonewalls that enclosed the rows and rows of grapes. Large white tents were set up for outdoor events and everything looked so clean and fresh. Their tagline is: “New England Charm. Napa Style.” It felt like I had left Connecticut and was in California; breathtaking.
Right by the entrance, a very nautical, navy and red sign, with the words “Come On In” overtop a wine glass, welcomed me inside.
What a well lit space with so many windows to see the outside tents, the vines and the grounds of the winery. The tasting bar itself was cozy, with lots of gleaming wood and the gorgeous stained glass window behind the bar, with grapes and grape leaves, really added that something special to the atmosphere.
After I perused the tasting menu – two options, classic or sampler – I made my choice and began to check off on the list I was given which wines I would like to try. As soon as I’d finished making my selections, the nice woman behind the bar started pouring. She gave me some details on each wine and answered any questions I had.
When I began my tasting, there was only one other pair at the bar and a solo gentleman. However, by the time I was close to the end of my wine journey, the bar was bustling.
Once finished with my experience, I purchased a bottle of their Sauvignon Blanc and a wine glass etched with the winery name, as well as some cute magnets, from their adorable shop right off the tasting room.
I then ordered myself a glass of Merlot, which I had planned to sit outside on the deck to enjoy, but I ended up chatting with the man who had been at the bar the entire time I had been at the winery. This friendly gentleman explained that he was a friend of the owner, Jonathan Edwards. What an interesting discovery! And my chat with this fellow only added to this visit. He let me know about “Summer Music” at the winery, or how I could come back in the fall to help pick grapes.
I cannot wait to return to both of these incredible places!
Plan your escape to these locations on the CT Wine Trail – Stonington Vineyards and Jonathan Edwards Winery. What amazing places! They both boast friendly faces, mouth-watering wine and stunning scenery; definitely worth the trip!
Images by Winter Caplanson.