21 Destination Connecticut Wineries with Great Dining Options
Red and white, sparkling and rosé, dry and sweet, light and bold. There is no limit to the varieties of wine produced by the state’s dozens of wineries. Just as you can find any type of wine to satisfy your discerning palate, the wineries’ culinary offerings present a kaleidoscope of possibilities to please any preference. Every winery on our list serves some edible delight, from meats to vegan specialties, cheeses to chocolates, antipasto to fondue and fruit pies to pizza pies. And with menus expanding every year, there’s no doubt you’ll leave your visit with a full stomach. So go on, take your own tour of tastes.
115 Cow Hill Road, Clinton
Benefiting from a favorable climate mixing oceanic and continental influences, the Burgundy region of France is famous for its wine. Two miles from Long Island Sound and 6 miles from the mouth of the Connecticut River, Chamard Vineyards has a similar microclimate, with a long, warm growing season and mild winters. It’s been producing award-winning vintages for 30 years, with chardonnays leading the way (16 varieties are produced on the 20 acres).
Chamard’s bistro hasn’t been around for quite as long — it opened in 2012 — but has garnered impressive reviews. Open year round seven days a week, the bistro boasts a French-New American menu with eclectic items like Parisian gnocchi with roasted button mushrooms, baby leeks, fava beans, spring garlic, asparagus and white truffle butter, and the Four Mile River Farm burger, with grass-fed local beef, bacon marmalade, smoked gouda and baby arugula on a brioche bun.
Seats inside — there are 35 of them, so reservations are advisable — afford views of terraced vines outside. But the warmer months offer the benefit of patio dining, with a closer view of the neatly arranged grounds. If you’re not up for a full meal, check out the adjoining tasting room and pair the wines with a local cheese platter featuring offerings from Cato Corner Farm in Colchester and Mystic Cheese Co.
Chamard Vineyards also features tours, tastings, a farmers market on Tuesdays through October, a local singer-songwriter series Fridays and Saturdays, and even yoga. A winemaker’s dinner series is held almost monthly, with four courses and wine pairings.
25 Hopkins Road, Warren
One of the most beautiful vineyards in Connecticut, Hopkins is located on rolling hills with panoramic views of Lake Waramaug. The vineyard features award winning whites, reds and sparkling wines, each produced in small, handcrafted batches from premium, estate-grown grapes.
Guests can bring picnic lunches to dine on the vineyard grounds, but many who visit the winery choose to walk across the street to the Hopkins Inn (860-868-7295, thehopkins inn.com), a 19th-century inn specializing in European cuisine. The establishment offers outdoor dining and the same lake views found at the winery. Though separate businesses, the vineyard and inn share many customers and lots of history. “The Hopkins Inn originally was the Hopkins family homestead,” explains Hilary Hopkins Criollo, who owns the vineyard with her family. “My great-great-grandfather George Hopkins turned it into an inn. There have been five owners since he owned it. This past April we teamed up and they hosted a Hopkins & Hopkins Wine Dinner. It was hugely successful. More will be planned for the future.”
Hopkins Vineyard is open year round. In the summer its hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Holmberg Orchards & Winery
12 Orchard Lane, Gales Ferry
Holmberg Orchards is a fourth-generation, family-run farm in the picturesque hills of Gales Ferry, not far from Mystic, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun. It features white and fruit wines, as well as hard ciders. These sparkling ciders are made in the English tradition: light, fresh and fruit forward. “The fruit wines are crisp, clean and surprisingly sophisticated,” says Amy Holmberg, retail manager of the orchard and winery. She adds that unlike many overly sweet fruit wines, these wines have minimal sugar.
The winery’s farm market offers fresh fruits and vegetables, specialty gourmet foods and an in-house bakery with muffins, cookies, pies, breads and its signature item: apple crisp. Guests can also order a variety of sandwiches, salads, quiche, pot pies and deli salads. “You can find cheese and crackers, hard salami, jams, homemade peanut butter and many other tasty treats that can be brought out to our wine tasting area on the farm,” Holmberg says.
The winery’s tasting area is open Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through October.
White Silo Farm & Winery
32 Route 37, Sherman
This boutique farm winery nestled in the foothills of Sherman allows guests to sample wines in an intimate tasting room within the “big red barn” and choose their favorite to enjoy by the bottle at one of the outdoor tables or picnic areas overlooking a bucolic stretch of farm land.
The winery specializes in small-batch fruit and grape wines, including the White Silo sangria and the sparkling red raspberry. Guests who order 24 hours ahead of time can pair these wines with a boxed lunch made at the winery’s commercial kitchen. Lunches feature as many farm-grown products as possible and often include sandwiches made with turkey, arugula and White Silo mustard (made on premises with quince, black currant and rhubarb), quinoa salad, mini cheese platters (with homemade membrillo, a sweet, thick jelly made from quince pulp), mixed nuts and a chocolate turtle bar (baked on site). The winery also offers cheese platters and at least one fresh-baked item each weekend such as scones, muffins, biscotti or cookies.
On Aug. 20 and 21, the winery hosts its seventh annual Blackberry Festival, which will highlight small dishes made with the farm’s fresh blackberries. White Silo is open April through December Friday, Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with Friday hours extended until 8 p.m. through September.
Jones Family Farms Winery
606 Walnut Tree Hill Road, Shelton
(Photo by Keyvan Behpour)
There have been many exciting firsts in the history of this Naugatuck Valley institution, a seven-generation family farm founded in 1848. Its latest is sure to expand the dining choices, as full-time farm chef Sherry Swanson comes on board. Classically trained in French and Italian techniques, Swanson is also a certified sommelier.
The farm and winery support local agriculture with farm-to-table refreshments including regional cheeses (Arethusa’s camembert, Shelburne Farms’ raw milk cheddar and Beltane Farm’s goat cheese) and smoked meats like venison and beef summer sausage from the acclaimed Nodine’s Smokehouse in Goshen. Combine them with Carr’s crackers to create your own cheese board. Of the winery’s 17 wines, six are estate grown and eight are Connecticut grown. Highlights are the sparkling Strawberry Serenade and two reds, a cabernet franc, which is a dry, estate-grown wine, and the Beacon Light 8, for those who prefer a semi-sweet option.
Speaking of sweet, berry season is a big deal at Jones, and it shows when it comes to the dessert options. In season you’re likely to find strawberry shortcake and blueberry muffins. Summer flavors of seasonal tea breads include strawberry-rhubarb and blueberry-zucchini, while the fall has pumpkin-walnut. Pumpkin season means pumpkin-cranberry cookies, and Christmas tree season brings trail mix cookies with oats, chocolate chips and dried cranberries. All can be enjoyed — weather permitting — on a 30-seat patio with a grapevine-covered pergola attached to the tasting room, itself a restored former dairy barn. A larger seating area, with room for 65, can be found on the terrace with a stonewall enclosure.
You might even take a cooking class at the winery’s Harvest Kitchen, where you harvest seasonal fruits and vegetables and transform them into fresh meals, or try out classes during which you enjoy three courses paired with wine. Tasting room hours vary seasonally, opening the second week in March. This time of year it’s open Thursday through Sunday.
Lost Acres Vineyard
80 Lost Acres Road, North Granby
At this beautiful winery guests can choose between five white wines and a rosé. Three of the whites, the chardonnay, Dry Riesling and Clemon Springs, are dry and perfect for summer. The Wedge White is the winery’s best-seller and is made of a blend of vinifera and French hybrid grapes. The winery’s Salmon Brook Rosé is made with seyval blanc grapes grown on site and pressed through merlot skins.
Hungry wine lovers can choose from a variety of artisan snacks, including a cheese plate with local goat cheese, cheddar from the Granville Country Store in neighboring Massachusetts, and seasonal fruits from local farms and honey; an antipasto plate with charcuterie meats, provolone cheese and olives and fresh bread; a hummus plate with veggies and chips; or a cheese and chocolate plate with handmade Birnn chocolate truffles, cheese, salami and fresh bread.
The winery is open Friday and Saturday, noon to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m.
Preston Ridge Vineyard
100 Miller Road, Preston
You might not expect food trucks to be parked at a winery, but they fit right in at this relatively new Mystic Country destination, which opened in late 2012. Every Friday from 5:30 to 8 p.m. from May through mid-October, a variety of mobile eateries set up shop. This year’s trucks include Lady Copacabana (Brazilian), Curb Your Appetite (comfort food), Archie’s Wingz & Thingz, Rollin’ Reds (American), Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock and Brick&Basil Wood Fired Pizza Co. Cheese locally sourced from Meadowstone Farm in Brooklyn and Beltane Farm in Lebanon, as well as crackers, are also available for purchase.
The varied offerings provide plenty of intriguing pairings for Preston Ridge’s 10 wines, ranging from a sweeter table white, lightly oaked chardonnay, a sweet and dry rosé and barrel-aged reds. The most popular wines are the Fieldstone White, made with a blend of cayuga grapes, that finishes with residual sweetness, and the Stone Valley Red, a cabernet sauvignon with notes of black cherry.
Open Friday, Saturday and Sunday through mid-December, Preston Ridge features a gambrel-style barn with a cozy tasting room with seating for up to 25, a 20-seat deck with nearly 360-degree views of the vineyard and a picnic area that can accommodate up to 40. Visibility extends about 20 miles, and westward-facing outdoor seating provides sumptuous sunsets.
Jonathan Edwards Winery
74 Chester Main Road, North Stonington
This bi-coastal vineyard makes wines with grapes planted in North Stonington as well as in California’s Napa Valley.
Guests are encouraged to bring their own picnic lunches, but there are a variety of craft snacks available. “We chose local and artisan producers of products for our gift shop,” says Dawn Rogers, director of marketing. “We gravitate toward farmers and businesses that produce products from a sustainable and environmental perspective and that use pure ingredients.” These products include cheese from Beltane Farm, Beaver Brook Farm and Narragansett Creamery, cured meats from Daniele Foods, McCrea’s Candies and crackers from Vermont Roots and On the Vine from New York.
The tasting room is open Sunday through Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In warm weather months there is a free daily winery tour at noon that includes a walk in the vineyard and a visit to the tank and barrel rooms.
Bishop’s Orchards Winery & Farm Market
1355 Boston Post Road, Guilford
The farm has been around since 1871, and is known for its orchards full of apples, peaches, pears, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. In 2005, Keith Bishop and family began using this bounty to produce fruit wines and hard ciders. If you like white and blush wines, you just might like Bishop’s collection, which has a mix of dry, semi-dry and semi-sweet varieties. Among its most popular are Celebration 1871 (apple wine), Honey Peach Melba (apple, raspberry and peach), Rubus Nightfall (sparkling raspberry) and Apple Raspberry Blush.
For dining options there’s fresh produce, and so much more. The farm market offers extensive options for cheese, featuring Colchester’s Cato Corner Farm, and prepared foods like wraps, sandwiches, meats, snacks, chocolates, crackers and Connecticut-grown products. Once you’ve loaded up on food and drink, have a seat at Bishop’s outdoor picnic tables with views of the farm meadow, pond, brook and the orchard. You’re likely to also see some llamas, alpacas, chickens and goats.
Open year round, Bishop’s will host the 10th annual Shoreline Wine Festival on Aug. 13 and 14, when about 10 Connecticut wineries will offer their products for tastings and purchase in the Little Red Barn’s Wine Shop.
1297 Portland-Cobalt Road, Portland
Named after the landmark Arrigoni Bridge that spans the Connecticut River between Middletown and Portland, the winery is situated on 200 acres of picturesque farmland nestled between Route 66 and the Connecticut River.
The winery, which celebrated its four-year anniversary in May, offers 18 wines. The most popular include the Ruby (a red wine), Sunset (a perfect-for-summer white), the Mango Madness wine slushie and the vineyard’s sangria. Visitors often pack picnic lunches, but snacks like nuts, popcorn, candies, chocolates and an assortment of area cheeses and crackers are available for purchase.
There is live acoustic music every Friday evening and Sunday afternoon.
The vineyard is open year round, Friday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
21 Destination Connecticut Wineries with Great Dining Options
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Sharpe Hill Vineyard
108 Wade Road, Pomfret
The folks at Sharpe Hill Vineyards have always known the experience at their winery is just as important as their wines (which have won an impressive 350 medals in international tastings.) Sample the semi-dry white Ballet of Angels, which combines 10 grape varieties.
Right after opening in 1997, the vineyard began offering salad plates to patrons in the tasting room. Popularity grew and soon the owners had to insist on reservations, which eventually prompted them to open a full-time restaurant. The Fireside Tavern opened in 1999 and has become a culinary destination. Foodies travel to Pomfret from near and far to experience the restaurant’s exceptionally curated menu. There are only eight entrees, one of which is a rotating special, and the restaurant is only open three days a week when the tasting room is open. Reservations are required and typically fill up two weeks in advance.
For those looking for a simple snack as they sip in the tasting room, fruit and cheese boxes are available. Outside food is not permitted.
29 Chestnut Hill Road, Litchfield
Connecticut’s first vineyard, Haight-Brown has been producing wine for more than four decades. Offering four whites, three reds, an apple, a dessert and two seasonals, the winery created by Southern gentleman Sherman Haight pioneered the state’s proliferation of wineries. It was also the first to host educational events and classes, including its popular wine, cheese and chocolate pairing class, still offered today. An on-site farm shop serves platters with artisanal fruit and cheese (30 types of cheeses!), as well as antipasto, and other gourmet foods. Or bring your own lunch or snacks — no drinks, though — and enjoy the picnic grove, an ideal spot for couples and families.
Open year round, including seven days a week Memorial Day into the fall, Haight-Brown hosts themed nights, including tapas and fondue, and caters private events with a more extensive menu. Have a seat on the lower patio with extended awnings or the upstairs deck with a view of the vineyard’s 16 acres. Live music can often be heard outside.
Land of Nod Winery
99 Lower Road, East Canaan
The winery’s name is inspired by the Robert Louis Stevenson poem of the same name. Situated in the foothills of the Berkshires, this family-owned and -operated vineyard might just move you to compose a sonnet of your own. A nationally recognized bicentennial farm with roots that date back to before the Revolutionary War, the vineyard offers 10 varieties of wine. They’re made with peaches, raspberries, black currants and grapes grown at the farm.
“We believe that wine is food from the land and it is at its best when served with food,” states the vineyard’s website, and there are plenty of opportunities for food and wine pairings. Guests can bring their own picnic lunches or purchase a gourmet snack. In addition, the nearby Roma Pizzeria delivers Italian food to the vineyard.
Land of Nod Winery is open through August on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday with the same hours September through November.
42 Ives Road, Goshen
The Mirandas chose the location for their Portugal-style vineyard based on its unique microclimate, with rocky New England soil and cool breezes flowing down from Mohawk Mountain and across Woodridge Lake. This unique land also makes for a great visitor experience.
The vineyard is known for its traditional European-style wines. It produces an award-winning, port-style white, and it is the only Connecticut winery to produce a “Vinho Verde” style of wine. This wine was recently awarded a silver medal at the Tasters Guild international Wine Competition. The most popular wine is the Goshen Farmhouse Red, another award winner.
Sample the offerings while looking over the scenic vineyard. For food, guests can enjoy expertly smoked cheeses and sausages from Nodine’s Smokehouse.
The winery’s summer hours are Friday and Saturday noon to 6 p.m. and Thursday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m.
523 Taugwonk Road, Stonington
Food trucks have also made their way to this 58-acre farm winery in Stonington. On Friday evenings in July and August, the Brick&Basil Wood Fired Pizza Co. operates the resident truck, while free concerts are offered. Lady Copacabana and Rollin’ Reds trucks join the party on summer weekends.
Stonington offers light bites like Boar’s Head cheeses and meats, gourmet dipping pretzels and mustards, and gluten-free options. You’ll also find a chocolate line from Stonington’s MI Chocolate, which pairs well with the cabernet franc. Relax and dine at a table on the winery’s patios, decks and gazebo, all overlooking the vineyard. Or bring your own picnic lunch, lawn chairs and blankets and dine on the lawn.
Winemaker Mike McAndrew produces European-style table wines, including the cabernet and estate chardonnays. Also try the Riesling, and other blends such as Pink Noir, Seaport White and Triad Rose, with all wines coming from grapes grown in southern New England.
Open seven days a week year round, Stonington hosts two events to consider adding to your calendar: Movie Night in the Vines on Aug. 27, showing the wine-themed Sideways on the big screen, and the annual Harvest Festival, with a full wine tasting, live bands, kids activities, food trucks and artisans, slated for Sept. 17 and 18.
Sunset Meadow Vineyards
599 Route 63, Goshen
Tucked away in the Litchfield Hills, Sunset Meadow Vineyards is a family-run business that reflects the beauty and character of the region through its popular wines. Its semi-sweet red, Root 63, is a perfect example. Named for the road the 32-acre vineyard sits on, this versatile wine features notes of strawberry, pomegranate and raspberry.
Foot traffic is encouraged here and visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic lunches to be enjoyed on the patio. But for those who are looking for a snack between tastings, SMV offers several sweet and savory treats. Purchase smoked meats and cheeses from Nodine’s Smokehouse, as well as breads, jams and jellies.
Open Sunday, Monday and Thursday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., SMV keeps its tasting room open year round.
11 Shailor Hill Road, Colchester
Priam Vineyards sets itself apart by being a completely solar-powered winery and sustainable vineyard nestled in the Salmon River watershed of central Connecticut. The owners believe in doing things the most efficient way possible, and their 13 international award-winning wines prove they’re onto something.
Stop by the vineyard and make a day of it by bringing your own meal or purchasing meats, cheeses and other packaged food and enjoying it on the patio. Food is not allowed in the tasting room.
On Friday nights through July and August, Priam hosts a concert series featuring local and regional talent. Food trucks and local vendors are present at those popular events to keep everyone full and happy.
From May through December, Priam is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. March through April, hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
1338 Whirlwind Road, Wallingford
Sitting atop a hill in rural Wallingford, Gouveia Vineyards has to be one of the prettiest wineries in the state. The Stone House tasting room offers 360-degree, panoramic views over 32 acres of pristine vineyards, woodlands and open fields.
Open seven days a week March through December, Gouveia Vineyards scales back to Thursday through Sunday in January and February.
While the winery doesn’t offer any food in its tasting room (guests are permitted to bring their own picnic lunches), the Gouveia family recently opened its first restaurant in town called The Library Wine Bar and Bistro. It is located in Wallingford’s first library, which was built in 1899. The Gouveia family restored the building and crafted a Portuguese- and Mediterranean-inspired menu that has diners intrigued. The wine list here is global in scope, and, of course, Gouveia’s own wines are featured.
Taylor Brooke Winery
848 Route 171, Woodstock
This family-run vineyard in the Quiet Corner is celebrating its 12th anniversary this year. There have been some changes between three different addition projects. As owner Linda Auger says, “There’s always something going on.” But the dedication to the wines and wine lovers has never wavered.
At the winery, which is open Friday through Sunday, all visitors are granted a complimentary tasting of two wines. People can also opt for a tasting of eight wines for $5.50 or what Auger calls “the whole shebang” — 14 wines for $8.50. “We offer our customers options because we know not everyone is comfortable with a large tasting,” she says.
Visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic lunches to enjoy on the premises, but Taylor Brooke does offer several local food options for purchase, including meats and cheeses from Nodine’s Smokehouse, crackers, tapenades (olives, capers, anchovies and olive oil) and spreads.
Rosedale Farms & Vineyards
25 E. Weatogue St., Simsbury
As a combination farm and vineyard, food and drink go hand in hand at this fifth-generation family farm. Rosedale has been providing Simsbury and surrounding towns the freshest fruits, vegetables and flowers since 1920. Products including sweet corn, tomatoes, berries, melons, breads, cheeses, bakery items and much more are available in the farm store. Outside food is now allowed.
Come by for a tasting of five of the vineyard’s wines and snack on something from the store. Rosedale also works with the Max Restaurant Group and hosts several wine dinners throughout the season. The final event, called the Summer Harvest Wine Dinner, will be held at Rosedale on Aug. 6 and will feature an impressive menu by chef Scott Miller.
Maugle Sierra Vineyards
825 Colonel Ledyard Hwy., Ledyard
Maugle Sierra Vineyards, located in the scenic hills of the Quiet Corner, is committed to providing a memorable experience for visitors. Open every day through the season, it offers live music on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons all year long. There’s no cover charge to enjoy the music as long as you’re buying wine.
You can round out your night with a snack from the tasting room. The winery sells cheeses from Beaver Brook Farm in Lyme, Boar’s Head pepperoni and Hauser chocolate truffles from Westerly, Rhode Island.
All pair easily with Maugle Sierra’s array of wines, including the Ledyard Sunset White, a blend of Riesling and estate-grown cayuga that is “best enjoyed as a long sunset sip with friends.” And don’t forget to try the vineyard’s decadent chocolate shooter — a dark-chocolate cup filled with the winery’s dessert wine, Espiritu’ de St. Croix.
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