Litchfield, CT --
Contact: Janet L. Serra
For Immediate Release
If the economy has cut back on vacation plans, a trip to wineries in Connecticut's Litchfield Hills just might change your luck. Next winter you might be doing your wine tasting in Spain if you are one of the lucky winners in this year's "Wine Country Passport" drawing.
The free passport is a handy brochure published by the Connecticut Department of Agriculture listing more than 25 farm wineries around the state. Visitors who have their passport stamped at 14 of the stops will be entered in a drawing for valuable prizes. Two lucky winners will enjoy roundtrip air fare and a 13-night stay for two next winter at the Benalmadena Palace, Benalmadena Costa Spain, a four-star property with indoor-outdoor swimming pools, a fitness center, spa, restaurant, and great views of the Mediterranean Sea.
In addition to the two big winners, 15 closer-to-home two-night weekend getaways for two will be awarded to the Courtyard by Marriott in Norwich, where amenities include a swimming pool, fitness center, and hot tub. One passport is selected for each of 15 weekends.
Ten of the farm wineries in the Litchfield Hills are easily reached in a scenic loop drive. Many are family owned historic farm properties, and a number are located on hilltops with wonderful views, with have picnic areas to add to the day's pleasures.
Following the Wine Passport map starting from the south, the first stop is The Jones Family Winery in Shelton. one of the newest vineyards on one of the oldest farms. The Jones family has grown crops on this land for over 150 years. Jamie Jones, the sixth generation, added the first grapes in 1999 and continues to expand each year. The farm's vineyard and berry harvests supply the makings for both traditional grape wines and specialty fruit wines. A sampling of wines is offered in the tasting room located in the nineteenth century barn.
The McLaughlin Vineyards in the Sandy Hook section of Newtown is a third-generation 160-acre family farm tucked into the hills. Here you can hike trails along the Housatonic River, picnic at the edge of the vineyards, pick vegetables in an heirloom garden and browse a selection of wines. McLaughlin offers special events on weekends, from jazz or bluegrass concerts to talks on wine tasting. The 15-acre on-site vineyard provides most of the grapes for a wide variety of wines.
White Silo, a century-old dairy farm in Sherman, makes fruit wines from the raspberries and blackberries grown on the property. Visitors are invited to tour the fermentation, bottling and corking rooms located in a 1850s barn, to sample sweet or dry fruit wines, and admire work by local artists. The terrace is a fine place to enjoy wine, or a White Silo specialty, blackberry sangria.
One of the largest operations, the 45-acre DiGrazia Vineyards in Brookfield, was founded in 1978 and now produces 28 wine varieties. DiGrazia grows hardy French Hybrid grape varieties to make table and dessert wines. The winery offers guided tours of the production and bottling facilities, tastings, and a picnic area on the arbor patio.
Goshen's two wineries each can boast of award-winning vintages. Sunset Meadow Vineyards is a family owned and operated vineyard on over 40 acres of sloping fields overlooking the picturesque sunsets and scenery of the Western Connecticut Highlands. Their wines won four medals in the 2008 Eastern States Competition and their Cauga White won the Gold Medal in the 2009 International Wine Competition. At Miranda Vineyards, Manny Miranda is carrying on the old-world European methods he learned from his father and grandfather while adding the improvements of modern technology. Miranda's Woodbridge White wine took the Gold in the 2008 Northeast Wine Competition. The picturesque vineyard offers free jazz every Sunday afternoon from 1:30 to 4:30, and welcomes picnickers.
Hopkins Vineyard offers vistas of the blue waters of Lake Waramaug from its hilltop site. A family farm since 1787, the first Hopkins vines were planted in 1979 and the nineteenth century barn was converted to a state-of-the-art winery. Wine tastings are offered and favorites can be ordered by the glass or by the bottle, along with cheeses and pates, at The Hayloft, a wine bar with a stunning lake view.
The state's oldest established winery, Haight-Brown Vineyard, is situated on ten acres atop Chestnut Hill just outside Litchfield. The first Chardonnay and Riesling grapes here were planted in 1975 on land that had been a family farm. A selection of local and international cheeses is offered along with wine samplings at the tasting bar.
Nationally recognized as a bicentennial farm, The Land of Nod Winery is located on 200 acres in the Litchfield Hills in East Canaan. The Winery offers both grape and fruit wines. One of their popular specialties is a unique Chocolate Raspberry dessert wine. Among special attractions planned this summer are food and wine pairings during Railroad Days July 12, vintage cars from the Paradise Classic Cruisers Car Club of New Milford on July 19, and refreshments following the annual Beckley Furnace River Walk on August 15.
In the wooded northern Litchfield Hills, visitors can discover the Jerram Winery, lhigh on a hill in New Hartford above the Farmington River. Samples of Jerram?s nine varieties take place in a restored 1903 Arts and Crafts Creamery that also serves as a contemporary art gallery. The outside deck is a fine place to enjoy a picnic lunch with wine.
The intimate family-owned Connecticut Valley Winery, also in New Hartford, beckons with a variety of wines made with local hybrid grapes and hybrid blends, served in an inviting tasting room with hardwood floors, beams and a stone fireplace.
A visit to the eastern section of the state leads to more wineries and the chance to complete stamps in the passport and be in the running for the big prizes. For hours and driving directions to Litchfield Hills wineries, contact the wineries listed below. The brochure Your Passport to Connecticut Wine Farm Wineries, with a map and listing of wineries statewide, can be downloaded under "publications" at www.ctgrown.gov. The Litchfield Hills winery tour route with map is also included in the Connecticut Wine Trail guide, found at www.ctwine.com.
Copies of both free brochures are also available from the Litchfield Hills Visitors Bureau, along with a free copy of UNWIND, a 112-page color guide to lodging, dining and all the attractions in the Litchfield Hills of Northwest Connecticut. Write to PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, call (860) 567-4506 or visit or check the Internet at www.litchfieldhills.com.