Blue skies, bright sun and acres of green — sounds like the ideal setting for a wedding, doesn’t it? Lucky for us, Connecticut has an ever-increasing number of vineyards that fit that idyllic description, and are ready and willing to host all those you love as you come together to celebrate your day of days. So, go ahead and pour yourself a glass of chardonnay or perhaps rosé (Connecticut grown, of course), and take a look at what some of our favorites have to offer.
Hopkins Vineyard, New Preston
History in the making: To say that the Hopkins family has a history in the Litchfield Hills is putting it mildly. As the folks here like to say, the history of Hopkins Vineyard is the “history of New England,” in many respects, beginning with the first Hopkins who came over on the Mayflower. Fast-forward 100 years or so, and in 1787, Revolutionary War veteran Elijah Hopkins purchased the land upon which Hopkins Vineyard now stands, and the fertile soil on the north shore of Lake Waramaug in New Preston has been owned by members of the Hopkins family ever since. Weddings on the National Bicentennial Farm center around a tent for between 60 and 500 guests that is set up between May and October on a sweep of green at the center of the vineyard, itself surrounded by stone walls, hills of grapes and gardens. The Hayloft Wine Bar in the upstairs of the winery’s 19th-century barn, which offers stellar views of the lake, can host private events for up to 30 guests.
Saltwater Farm Vineyard, Stonington
Come fly with me: The centerpiece of Saltwater Farm Vineyard may not be what you expect. The 108-acre coastal vineyard is in fact headquartered in what was once a World War II-era airplane hangar left from the expansive property’s days as a private airport. In the years since, a floor-to-ceiling interior and exterior makeover has brought the airy retro-chic structure, with seating for 250 on two levels, to life once again. Inside, impeccably crafted original wood sheathing, a vaulted ceiling, massive timber trusses, assorted wine-making paraphernalia and a wall of glass overlooking the vines add character; outside, the milled aluminum exterior is sleek and stylish and the vineyard is stunningly picturesque, with far-reaching views of vines bordered by the tidal marshes of Wequetequock Cove and a fully preserved 1,800-foot grass landing strip dating back to the 1930s. Ceremonies are generally held at the start of the vines on the original taxi way.
Maugle Sierra Vineyards & Winery, Ledyard
Sunrise, sunset: The Sierra Sunset Room at Ledyard’s Maugle Sierra Vineyards & Winery, established in 2002, has a wall of sliding doors on its west side that open to an attached deck with what owner and winemaker Dr. Paul Maugle calls “just fantastic” views of the sunset. With seating for 66, the room is used for small weddings as well as rehearsal dinners. Thinking a little bigger? A tent with wide-eyed views of the vineyard’s 120 acres (11 of which are planted with vines that are used to produce wines like oh-so-smooth Espiritu de St. Croix and delicate 1740 Ledyard House Rosé) can be used to seat up to 150. As for the after-party, Maugle Sierra just so happens to be located between two little entertainment venues you might have heard of by the name of Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun, should you care to try your luck.
Jonathan Edwards Winery, North Stonington
California Dreamin’: Can you get to Napa by way of North Stonington? At Jonathan Edwards Winery you can. Jonathan Edwards’ unique approach to wine craft, in fact, includes using grapes it grows on both coasts: in California’s Napa Valley and on 48 hilltop acres of estate vineyards right here at home. Wedding ceremonies take place in a natural “aisle” formed by rows of chardonnay and cabernet franc vines, while its handsome Napa-influenced tasting room, deck and a stone patio that takes in the winery’s rolling hills, meandering stone walls, a pond and the vines in all their glory, is used for cocktails. A tent beside the former dairy barn turned winery is set up between May and October to accommodate up to 200 guests for a seated reception; the Barrel Room itself can be used for weddings with up to 65 seated guests.
White Silo Farm & Winery, Sherman
All in the family: Thirty-five years ago, the Gorman family purchased a 17-acre portion of the former Upland Pastures dairy farm in Sherman. With the intention to “continue the farming tradition and preserve the land for generations to come,” they planted their first crop of raspberries, followed by blackberries and then rhubarb. A dairy barn built circa 1780 was renovated in 2000 and converted into a wine-tasting room/production area and a family-operated boutique winery was born, with all wine (a sparkling red raspberry, full-bodied black currant, dry Cayuga white) produced in small batches from farm-grown fruit. White Silo Farm & Winery now hosts weddings for up to 75 seated guests in the tasting room or under a tent on the upper terrace overlooking the entire property, with farm-to-table favorites prepared by an on-site chef. Ceremonies can be held beneath a willow tree by a pond. Keep an eye out: family patriarch Ralph Gorman, 88, who still works the farm each day, might try to cut in on a dance!
Château Le Gari, Marlborough
Life wine: No one would have blamed Gary Crump if, after selling his share of Priam Vineyards, the award-winning Colchester vineyard that he’d spent the previous 17 years of his life helping build from the terroir up, he had decided to take some extended time off for himself. So he did. A whole three weeks passed, and then he purchased the 20 acres in Marlborough that would become Château Le Gari and, yet again, started from the ground up. That was in 2015, and today Crump’s Old World-style European château/vineyard, nestled where gentle Black Ledge River and burbling Fawn Brook meet, hosts waterfront ceremonies on the river banks, indoor receptions for up to 125 in its polished Barrel Room and tented receptions for up to 150 that include serene vineyard views.
Rosedale Farms & Vineyards, Simsbury
Farm livin’: No one ever said that farm life is an easy life, but as Marshall and Lynn Epstein, the third generation of the Epstein family to work the fields at Rosedale Farms & Vineyards, celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of their green acres, they seem to have things down to a science. Marshall focuses more on the fruit and vegetable production while Lynn specializes in growing the wildflowers from which she creates (and sells) vibrant bouquets. Marshall works to grow the business relationships that allow their produce to get into the hands (and mouths) of their loyal customers, while Lynn manages the farm’s CSA plans. They both, laughs Lynn, consider themselves the “ultimate wedding crashers,” as they make it a practice at each Rosedale wedding to take a “walk over” after dinner and make sure that every bride is happy — and if they happen to stay for a glass of their own Elkie’s White and perhaps a dance, all the better. Rosedale hosts just one wedding per weekend from June through October, with ceremonies in the main aisle of the 4½-acre vineyard, cocktails on a grassy expanse of lawn with views of the vines and fields of flowers, and tented receptions for up to 225 guests.
Hawk Ridge Winery, Watertown
Birds of a feather: You can trust the Giannetto and McHugh families, owners of Hawk Ridge Winery, when they tell you that weddings at their Watertown winery are something special. The very first wedding that was hosted at the winery was that of daughter Kristie Giannetto to Moises Torrent in the fall of 2015 — and there have been two more family weddings since. Hawk Ridge, named for the abundance of red-tailed beauties on the property, is part of 58-acre Hidden Breeze Farm. A big ol’ sailcloth tent is set up next to the post-and-beam winery between May and October for weddings of up to 280 seated guests; a favored spot for ceremonies is beneath an arbor by the Cayuga and Frontenac vines. The handsome Hawk’s Nest adjacent to the tasting room serves as a bridal suite on the big day, but can also be rented for showers and rehearsal dinners for up to 55 people.
Chamard Vineyards, Clinton
First, some chardonnay: The first vines were planted at Chamard Vineyards in Clinton in the spring of 1984. Back then the 5-acre vineyard consisted primarily of chardonnay vines; today the now-40-acre property bursts with cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, pinot noir and, yes, chardonnay fruit from vines carefully tended by hand in the European tradition. Weddings for up to 100 seated guests can be held in Chamard’s Wine Cellar, which includes the Red Barrel Room (its original and oh-so-elegant wine library) and the Tank Room, where barrels and tanks aging future award winners sleep). A rustic-chic barn that can accommodate up to 60 guests boasts an adjacent patio with sweeping vineyard views, or a tent for up to 100 guests can be erected among the 20 acres of established vines and stone walls.Catering is provided by The Bistro at Chamard, which specializes in French-inspired, farm-to-table cuisine.
Preston Ridge Vineyard, Preston
Oh, say can you see: Preston Ridge Vineyard’s prime location at the very peak of a ridge in the Connecticut countryside means it is able to deliver some pretty primo views. Indeed, ceremonies by the classic New England barn that serves as the family-owned and -operated artisan vineyard’s base of operations offer an eyeful of some 15 to 20 miles of rolling beauty. Cocktail hour takes place in a polished tasting room inside the gambrel-style barn itself, which also boasts a wraparound deck on which guests can drink in the views of the vines right along with their PRV Estate Harvest Blend (or vidal blanc, riesling, rosé …). A great lawn on a lower level of the 60-acre vineyard, which was established in 2008, is bordered by rock walls, lush flower beds and a wildflower meadow and is where a tent with seating for up to 175 guests can be set up between May and October.
But wait, there’s more
Bridal shower overlooking the vines? Rehearsal dinner? Sunday brunch? Check out these options. Note: Wedding receptions are not one of the options unless otherwise noted.
Brignole Vineyards, set on 15 acres in the heart of East Granby, was established in 2015. The chic event space on the second floor of its Napa-inspired winery features dark wood beams, silver chandeliers, an attached private deck overlooking the vines and seating for up to 100 guests for showers, rehearsal dinners and the like. 860-653-9463, brignolevineyards.com
Stonington Vineyards, established in 1987, is a founding member of the Connecticut Wine Trail and best known for its barrel-fermented chardonnay and celebrated Seaport White and Triad Rosé. Its tasting room and adjacent stone patio is available for evening rental for up to 50 seated guests, while a group tasting room with an attached covered deck can seat up to 45 during daytime hours Sunday through Friday. 860-535-1222, stoningtonvineyards.com
Sunset Meadow Vineyards is set on 160 acres in Goshen, 45 of which are planted with vines, making it the state’s largest grower in terms of acreage planted. Between May and October it sets up a tent off its tasting room that can seat up to 80 for private events. 860-201-4654, sunsetmeadowvineyards.com
Rose Vineyards and Winery in North Branford has quite a history behind it. Robert Rose (born circa 1594) was the first Rose to settle in Connecticut. He came to the New World on the ship Francis in 1634 from Ipswich, England. Today, four Rose families, some of Robert’s original descendants, live on Rose acreage; Rose Vineyards, which opened in October 2019, is the newest addition to the family. Private rental options here include a wine cellar with a wine library, wine-barrel cave and outside patio, which together can seat up to 80; the Winery Lounge on the main floor of the winery, with a wood-burning fireplace, private wine bar and outside patio that can seat up to 60; and The Vineyard Suite, which includes a sweetheart balcony that overlooks the vineyard and peach orchard and a separate wine bar, to serve up to 15 guests. 475-221-8636, rosevineyards.com
Haight-Brown Vineyard on Chestnut Hill in Litchfield, established in 1975, was the first farm winery in Connecticut. Its Tudor-style winery can accommodate up to 150 guests in various configurations, and, yes, that does include small weddings. The Vine Room, a popular choice for showers, connects to an alcove and upper patio complete with an outdoor bar, while the Cask Room on the main floor connects to the Wine Cellar and a lower patio that can together accommodate up to 75 guests. 860-567-4045, haightbrownwine.com