Nestled in between two of America’s most influential and frequently visited cities, Boston and New York City, rests Connecticut, the country’s third smallest state. But other than Yale University, and being the home of the “Jerry Springer Show,” two polar opposite claims to fame, Connecticut is primarily known for being a three hour, traffic-nightmare, linking two of America’s most beloved cities. Recently, however, Connecticut has been making tremendous strides to stand out in one category in particular; the world of wine. Just about every “Best Things to do in Connecticut” list published today, has the “Connecticut Wine Trail” as a must-see, Connecticut highlight.
The idea for the Connecticut Wine Trail came from Sherman P. Haight, of Haight Vineyard, in Litchfield, Connecticut, in 1988. It wasn’t until 1992, however, that the state dedicated the trail, and five wineries became official members. As the years went on, more wineries and vineyards have joined the “trail of happiness”, and now the Connecticut Wine Trail is home to 25 unique wineries/vineyards.
So, why is the Connecticut Wine Trail so valuable to the state?
According to the University of Minnesota’s Status and Economic Contribution Report on Vineyards and Wineries in the New England States, in 2011 the economic contribution of the grape growing and winery industries in New England was 70.1 million dollars, including 3,260 jobs. According to the same report, 76% of responding vineyards and wineries were founded between the years of 2002-2012, indicating a substantial rise in the industry. Additionally, a whopping 91% of the wineries indicated that they plan on expanding within the next five years. In fact, Connecticut is becoming one of the fastest growing wine regions in the United States, and even in its earliest years was being compared to well established vineyards in California.
The 25 participating vineyards have also joined with a few other farm wineries in the region to form the “Connecticut Farm Wineries Passport Program.” Visitors to the wineries can obtain their passport at the beginning of May from any of the participating locations. As they visit each of the wineries, they get their passport stamped. At the end of the season, prizes will be awarded to those who have filled up at least 16 of the 33 possible stamps. Prizes include two two-week trips to Spain, a Cape Cod getaway, and gift certificates to all of the participating wineries. In 2014, Jennifer Crews, and her fiancé, Eddie, were one of the lucky winners, whose prize was an overnight stay at a local hotel. “We enjoyed the overnight experience, and I would be thrilled to win again this year,” said Crews. “But Eddie has his sights set on that trip to Spain, so we are working hard to fill up the Passport again.”
But, with New England weather being so temperamental, and wineries in the region having limited hours and dates of operation, not many wine-lovers will be able to visit all 25 wineries in a season.
No matter whether you are a sommelier, or someone that is new to wine drinking and visiting vineyards, the Connecticut Wine Trail offers a unique blend of fine wines that should be savored, and drinkable wines that will have you out of your seat and getting in line for another glass (or bottle).
After four months of visiting beautiful wineries, and tasting all the delicious wines they have to offer, the following posts are an extensive list of the key players on the Connecticut Wine Trail with reasons why any wine lover needs to make them a high priority when visiting the Trail. It was a terrible job, but somebody had to do it…