Litchfield, CT --
Contact: Janet L. Serra
Ph: 800-663-1273
Email: lhcvbnwct@aol.com
For Immediate Release

The seven vineyards in the leafy Litchfield Hills of Northwest Connecticut form a wine trail that takes in some of the loveliest autumn countryside in New England. As a bonus, the ruby red of grapes ripe for picking adds a vibrant hue to the orange and gold palette of the foliage Two vineyards are offering special family events this fall. Haight Vineyard will hold its Fourteenth Annual Harvest Festival on September 24th and 25th. Pony rides; country hayrides, live music and a grape stomping contest are among the festivities, along with Artisans showing handcrafted treasures, a country store tent and lots of good food. Every weekend in October, the McLaughlin Vineyards in the Sandy Hook section of Newtown celebrates another favorite fall harvest with hayrides to the pumpkin patch. Visitors can pick their own take home pumpkin, and then enjoy a ride through the vineyards followed by a cup of hot cider at the winery. Any time in fall is the ideal season for visiting wineries; since it is the only time you can see the entire winemaking process, from vine to vat. Most tours are offered on weekends, and at these small and personal properties, the winemaker is often on hand to answer questions in person. One of the largest winemaking operations is to the north in Brookfield. The 45-acre DiGrazia Vineyards, founded in 1978, has grown from an initial release of four brands of wine to twenty-eight different varieties. DiGrazia grows hardy French Hybrid grape varieties adapted to withstand New England winters, producing crisp, fruity, dry, semi-dry and dessert wines. On weekends, the winery offers one-hour guided tours of the production and bottling facilities followed by tastings. In Sherman, White Silo Farm, a century-old dairy farm, has a special focus, making fruit wines from raspberries and blackberries and rhubarb grown on the farm. Visitors are invited to tour the fermentation, bottling and corking rooms located in a 1850s dairy barn, to sample the sweet and dry fruit wines, admire work by local artists and to walk the raspberry fields, where you are invited to pick your own luscious fruit in September and October. Continuing north, Hopkins Vineyard waits on a hilltop above the blue waters of Lake Waramaug. 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. The warming influence of an inland lake extends the growing season, allowing for varieties that would not usually thrive in a cold climate. In addition to red and white table wines, Hopkins produces sparkling wine as well as semi-sweet wines, Rose and a Vidal Blanc dessert wine. Wine tastings are offered and when you have chosen a favorite, you can order it at The Hayloft at the top of the barn, now a wine bar with a stunning view of the foliage-rimmed lake. To the west is the state 's oldest established winery, Haight Vineyard, overlooking Litchfield, a town famous for its beautiful green and fine Colonial homes. The first Chardonnay and Riesling grapes were planted on the slopes here in 1975 on land that had been a family farm since the 1920s. Haight offers free tours on the hour and wine tastings. The winery tour ends with two newer wineries in the serene, wooded Litchfield Hills. Heading north from Litchfield, the Land of Nod Winery in East Canaan is on a farm that has been designated a Connecticut Farm of Distinction because it has been in continuous ownership by the same family for more than 200 years. Eight acres have been planted with Biana, Pinot Nori, Cabernet Franc, Catawaba and Chardonnay grapes, producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines. Another specialty is a raspberry dessert wine. Most of the fruit is grown on the farm. Land of Nod is open for tastings Friday to Sunday through October. Continuing west, the last stop on the wine trail is Jerram Winery on Route 219 in the Town Hill section of New Hartford. It is set on a hill above the Farmington River, the site of the town 's first settlement in the early 1700s. Winemaker James Jerram says that the elevation provides a long growing season that makes for especially well-matured grapes. He enjoys showing guests how the wines are made, and offering samples of Jerram 's three white and three red varieties. The tasting room is also a gallery for the work of contemporary artists. For hours and driving directions, contact the wineries listed below. For more information about fall events and a free copy of UNWIND, a 112-page color guide to lodging, dining and all the attractions in the Litchfield Hills, write to the Northwest Connecticut Convention and Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, call 800-663-1273 or visit the web site at www.litchfieldhills.com. www.jerramwinery.com www.haightvineyards.com www.hopkinsvineyard.com www.whitesilowinery.com www.digrazia.com www.mclaughlinvineyards.com.