Walker Road Vineyards – 2012

Arriving at Walker Road Vineyards on a beautiful sunny afternoon I had noticed the entrance to the vineyard changed from last year’s visit. They also moved from the basement of their home into a barn-like structure not too far from the vineyards. So things are looking up for them.

You may want to get to this winery soon as they are only open the first full weekend of each month. I hope in the future they decide to change this as I think it would be better for business.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the small bridge from the parking lot, which is also small but navigable providing there aren’t too many vehicles in your way.

Upon entering the tasting room you get a rustic feel and they have done a great job with  it compared to the old wine bar (last year) which was a small bench with maybe 3-4 tasters being able to taste wines. The new wine bar can accommodate quite a few more tasters. Sorry for the blurry picture but I wanted you to get an idea of how the place was set up.

When I first entered the tasting room I met Jim Frey and his wife Bruce-Elizabeth and they inquired if I wanted to do a tasting. Last year they did not charge for the tasting but you didn’t get a signature glass either. The tasting fee was $5 plus you got to keep the winery glass. If I’m not mistaken this is the first year Walker Road Vineyards has offered signature wine glasses. They only produce two wines but they’re pretty good and the tasting notes are as follows. I forgot to record the wine prices but do know both were well under $20.

Gertrude’s Garden: A blend of Traminette, Seyval Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc produced aromas of peach, apricot, and melon on the nose. The flavors consisted of citrus, lemon zest, and fresh herbs. The finish reminded me of lemon meringue pie.

Red Table Wine: This red blend consisted of the St. Croix, Cabernet Franc, and Sangiovese-Brunello varietals . It reminded me a lot of the wine my grandfather made, probably due to the Sangiovese-Brunello varietal. I found black cherry, pepper, dark plum, and cherry hard candy aromas. On the palate were blackberry, black currant, and plenty of pepper. A long finish ended with hints of European mocha.

Here’s a view of the vineyards from the tasting room.

Savino Vineyards – 2012

This year I made a decision to visit no more than three wineries in a day which is about a 5-7 hour day of wine hopping. The reason for this was that I wanted to spend more time at each winery and enjoy the experience in addition to tasting their wines. I have come to realize that wineries have more to offer besides the delectable liquid grape concoction we know as wine.

Upon entering the Savino Vineyards parking lot where the “tasting room open sign” beckoned me to a tasting (can you spot the witless whiner mobile?) I found nary a wine taster so I knew I was in for a surprise.

Last year the tasting room was a bit smaller than the new building as you can see from the pictures below. I’ve noticed a number of Connecticut wineries that have expanded or in the process of expanding.

The old.

And the new.

Usually when I am one of a few or no wine tasters I get to know the wine staff a bit better as they are able to spend more time with you. So upon first entering the building I was met by Lisa and Sandy (look closely).

When I first saw the bar stools I thought these would not be conducive to a long visit but after a half hour I realized how comfortable they were.

Savino Vineyards offers two tastings. The first is $7.00 and includes the wines, a plate of cheese, crackers, and salami plus their signature glass which is a pretty good size that will allow you to get your ‘ol schnozzola into the glass to get the full aroma of the wine.

The second offering is for $12.95 for the wines, olive oil, bread, and an antipasto tasting. Sandy prepared this for me and I began tasting the wines and the antipasto, bread, olive oil, salami, cheese and crackers in no apparent sequence but that didn’t seem to matter as everything was tasting really good.

When you decide to visit Savino, go all out and order the antipasto tasting. It consisted of marinated mushrooms, green olives, a garlic/bread crumb stuffed cherry pepper, and marinated julienne-cut eggplant. This was awesome and I no longer thought I was in a wine tasting but felt like I was in my Grandma’s kitchen eating her delectable food.

The wines I tasted along with the food are as follows:

2001 Bianco di Casa ($15.99): This white wine opened with citrus notes with honeysuckle on the nose. Lots of citrus with lemon on the palate. This had a clean crisp finish.

2011 Seyval Blanc ($14.99): This was not part of the tasting as quantities were limited but I was treated to a sampling of this wine. It opened with citrus with hints of white grape aromas. On the palate I found nectarine and apricot. A nice lemon zest was detected on the finish.

2011 Rosso di Casa ($16.99): A blend of Barbera, Frontenac, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot proved to be a hearty red and reminded me of Grandpa’s wine he used to make so many years ago. This wine had red plum and red cherry aromas with a very subtle blueberry note at the end. I detected a bit of a floral note too. Flavors of cherry, red raspberry and sweet plum preceded a slight white pepper finish. If you waited long enough before taking another sip you get a slight mocha aftertaste on the back palate.

At about this time, Sonia, the owner’s daughter-in-law came in and we both remembered the wine our grandfathers made and it was similar to the Rosso di Casa. This proved to be my favorite wine they had to offer.

2010 Frontenac ($18.99): A light red wine with cherry and bing cherry aromas followed by dark cherry and plum flavors and a hint of European chocolate. This went well with the cheese I had.

2010 Cabernet Franc ($18.99): A medium bodied wine opened with red plum and red currant aromas. Plenty of cherry, plum and chocolate on the palate. This wine paired well with all the food I had in front of me.

2010 Merlot ($18.99): This was an unusual Merlot with aromas that I found amazing. The aromas opened with cherry, red currant, forest floor and black olives, not something I have found a lot of in Merlots so I was mildly surprised with these aromas. The flavor was of dark cherry and after having a dark chocolate Hershey Kiss, the flavor turned into a cherry cordial. It made all the difference in the world.

So, if you want to spend an afternoon at the winery they have plenty of room on the right side of the bar area where you can relax and grab a glass of your favorite Savino Vineyards wine. Not only were the wines tasty and the food great, it was the conversations I had with Lisa, Sandy & Sonia making this a very memorable wine visit and one that I will remember for a long time to come.

Connecticut Wine Festival – 2012

The CT Wine Festival was on the last weekend of July. The witless wine troupe (ah, that would be me & the missus and my sister- and brother-in-laws) started off the morning drive to the Goshen Fairgrounds in Goshen, CT under a partly cloudy sky but soon realized that it was not if it would rain, but when. We were hoping the inevitable dilemma of transparent moist daggers from the heavens would hold off long enough for us to enjoy the 4th annual CT Wine Festival.

The parking lot was as empty as could be, given that the wine festival would not open for another 30 minutes.

We arrived a half hour earlier than expected and you can see that we were among the brave and loyal wine enthusiasts to get a front row parking spot.

This is advantageous strategy on the part of us wine purveyors. You see, we didn’t need to worry about parking in the doldrums of the cheap seats, way back in swamp land, wondering if we would ever find the wine mobile without utilizing the panic button on the key fob.

Umbrella in hand, we marched on to the starting gate (see featured photo) to enter the world of fine wines.  You can see the line forming in anticipation of finding the best wines of the festival. Much to our surprise they opened the gates about 10 minutes before the announced starting times.

Fortunately we arrived early but so did many of the other wine enthusiasts as well but it was not yet to the point where you were four or five deep. So, the process of getting wine samples was still relatively easy to obtain. Here are just a few of the brave wine tasters waiting for samples or those purchasing wine.

Many of you have heard about our Fancy Schmancy Initials Club so, can you spot Sparing Sharon and Cousin Carl?

Once we sampled the wines and made our purchases we found ourselves outside the tasting barns and out in the open where the skies threatened numerous droplets of rain but we were determined to visit the vendors of other products than wine before the wet stuff began. I’m particularly fond of the vendors selling oils and vinegars.

Once we had visited the outside vendors we got back to the car – oh, look at the parking lot now.

So, if you want to park in the front row, get to the wine festival early. Now, the only thing left to do now was stop at Apricot’s restaurant in Farmington to top off a perfect afternoon wine tasting. But outside under the tent the rains finally poured down upon us (sorry no pictures of the rain as the camera was in the car). I have to remember that I have a phone with a camera in it.

If you’re looking for a fun day and want to taste wine from many of the state’s wineries, you’ll surely enjoy this outing. So, put a reminder on your calendar for July 2013 to visit the Connecticut Wine Festival

Lost Acres Vineyard – 2012

Lost Acres Vineyard is new to the CT Wine Trail Passport this year and their sign indicating where I should go to enjoy a wine tasting is one of the signs I look for.

But let’s back up for a minute so you can see where the tasting room and other wine activities are conducted.

Did you notice the deck on the right side of the barn structure. Looks like a great place to spend an afternoon sipping some wine while admiring the vineyards.

And yes, this is the path leading up to the tasting room where I have never been before but am willing to take the plunge. When I entered, the tasting room was cool as it was becoming warm outside once the sun was intent on staying for awhile.

As you can see there is ample room to accommodate a lot of wine tasters either at the wine bar or in many of the tables that are set up here. Once inside one of the owners, Michelle welcomed me to the vineyard. The tasting fee is $6 including the CT state tax (I always like it when wineries include the tax within the tasting fee) for trying six wines on their menu. Plus you get their signature wine glass too. So, on to the wines and where the fun begins.

First up was their Chardonnay ($14.99) which opened with lemon, melon, and lemongrass aromas leading into citrus and apple flavors. Serve slightly chilled this was a very good wine to start of the tasting venue.

Next, I tried the Wedge White ($13.99) which is a white blend consisting of Cayuga, Chardonnay, Riesling, Seyval Blanc, Traminette, and Vidal Blanc. I found this wine to have clean crisp citrus aromas and flavors with some good acidity. This would be a great wine to have on their deck enjoying an afternoon with friends.

The next wine on their list was a fruit wine called Old Orchard Apple ($12.99) and as the name suggests you get apple aromas and flavors with a neat little tart apple finish.

The Riesling ($17.99) was next up on the tasting menu and I found lemongrass and fresh cut hay on the nose with a lingering spice cornucopia. This was a really surprising array of aromas and the flavors consisted of sweet apple and pear.

The Rock Wall Red ($15.99) was a blend of Carignane, Gamay, Merlot, and Petit Sirah. This red blend opened with plum, blackberry and jammy aromas. Much the same for the flavors but a nice spice and peppery finish followed leaving a nice mouth-feel on the palate.

The last wine on the list was the Merlot ($13.99). On the nose I found jammy blackberry and wild black cherry and on the palate I found cherry hard candy and plum flavors with a nice complement of pepper. Then I tried a chocolate morsel and this seemed to bring out the plum flavor more and as it turned out the last wine I tasted was my favorite.

If you haven’t stopped here yet, you’ll want to make the trip. One thing that I enjoy so far and I know I’ve only visited two wineries so far but how pleasant and friendly the wine staff and the tasters are so far – let’s hope that the trend continues.

Next week – Arrigoni Winery

Hardwick Vineyard & Winery

Driving up to this winery I passed through some beautiful countryside scenes, however you could still see the devastation caused by both Hurricane Irene and winter storm Alfred. This was a really sad scene to see as so many tress were down across the area it’s a wonder they received power at all. But upon arrival at the vineyard the tasting room was in a big barn adjacent to the main house.

And when I arrived there was quite a crowd and the sommelier, Becky, wanted to know if I was there because of the show Chronicle and as I looked perplexed and asked “What’s Chronicle”. One of the other tasters wanted to know if I was from Connecticut and when I said I was they all knew that I did not see this local show. Seems that a local TV station highlights “stuff” in the area and Hardwick Vineyard and Winery was featured on the show, hence the reason it was so busy. Well, busy is a good thing as were their wines.

The bar area was quite ample and there is room for a lot of tasters at once. The tasting fee was $5 for six wines of your choice and you also received a signature wine glass. Most of the wineries I have visited will give you an ample pour of the wine for your tasting pleasure. Here at Hardwick Vineyard & Winery the pours were at least 2 oz each so make sure you stay there for awhile after you have finished the tastings. Here are the wines I sampled.

Giles E. Warner: This dry white wine opened with orange peel and citrus notes on the nose. Orange slice with a hint of apple found it’s way to the forward palate and had good acidity with a clean crisp finish. This wine is a blend of the Seyval and Vidal Blanc grapes.

Yankee Boy White: Pear was the dominant aroma with hints of green apple. Sweet apple (dominant) and pear nuances on the palate. I found it quite interesting that the aromas and flavors reversed in its complexity. It was a really nice combination and a pretty good wine too.

Yankee Girl Blush: A blend of Seyval, Vidal, and Pink Catawba varietals was a peach colored wine more so than a blush colored wine and produced peach and tropical notes on the nose. The palate experienced peach and melon flavors. This was very nice.

Massetts Cranberry: Made with 10% local Cayuga grapes this had a nice cranberry aroma and flavor. A little too much cranberry for me though.

Hardwick Red: The Marechal Foch grapes in this wine found plum and dark berries with a hint of boysenberry on the nose. Mostly plum was found on the palate with hints of black cherry and boysenberry on the finish, maybe some fig as well.

Quabbin Native: Made from the Pink Catawba grape it opened with floral notes with some lingering grapefruit. The flavor was a delectable Peach Melba dessert. I got an unexpected surprise when Becky poured the same wine a second time that had been heated with mulling spices. It was remarkable and much better than mulled apple cider. This was the gem of the winery.

There was also an outside area that could also be utilized for relaxing on your visit although it was nice but chilly with temperatures nearing 60°.

Be sure to take the time and visit this winery in one of your future wine trips even if you didn’t see it on Chronicle. You can even book an event as they have plenty of room downstairs. One other note though; I read a saying that was on one of the beams above the bar area which stated: “Guests: If we get to drinking on Sunday and ask you to stay until Monday, we really don’t mean it“. Good thing I went on a Friday:)

Here’s to good wine, good food, and good friends…

 

Savino Vineyards

Savino Vineyards is located in Woodbridge, CT and are open for tastings on Saturdays and Sundays 12 pm to 6 pm from June 4th through December 17th so you only have two more weekends to get out to Savino Vineyards. Actually it’s one and a half weekends. The tasting room appears very small from the outside however there is ample room for a dozen or so tasters with seating at several tables and chairs. The two sommeliers were quite pleasant and cheerful and asked us if we’ve ever been here before to which we replied “No”. They walked us through each wine and then let us know if we had any questions during the tasting to just ask away. Their tasting fee is $5 and includes their signature wine glass. I did find out that the farm winery was originally a pig and cow farm but now had beautiful grapevines planted all in a row.

Just before the first wine was poured they brought out a plate with cheese, Italian sausage, and crackers for our palate during the tasting.

2010 Seyval Blanc – $14.99: The first aromas were of grapefruit and then I got lemon afterward. Once the lemon hit the nose it didn’t overpower the grapefruit but blended in with it giving it a nice aroma. This carried over into the flavor but I found it more pleasant than the aroma.

2010 St. Croix – $12.99: Produced from CT grown grapes found black currant and cassis on the nose. Black cherry, fig and mocha flavors rounded out this local made wine.

2009 Frontenac – $18.99: The aroma started with raspberries and chocolate on the nose and it took a few smells for me to detect a hint of vanilla and the three aromas blended quite well. On the palate I found blueberry and fig with a bit of a bite on the finish. However after eating some of the delectable food dish the second sip did not have the bite to it.

2009 Cabernet Franc – $18.99: A nice plum color with raspberry and licorice on the nose led into black and red cherries flavors on the palate with a nice smooth finish with a subtle hint of plum.

2009 Merlot – $18.99: A light red color with black currant on the nose with a hint of vanilla. Sweet raspberry and blackberry flavors with a smooth creamy finish. After eating a chocolate morsel the flavor intensified.

Miranda Vineyard

A short hop from Sunset Meadows, Miranda Vineyard is located just down the street with the iron gates opened to invite you along for a wine tasting event. After you have visited the vineyard just off the parking area and you get ready to enter the tasting room just to the left of the door is an antique wine press greeting you with whispered stories.

Inside the building was a modern decor with a small wine bar that would fit maybe 4-5 tasters although I do not know how comfortable it would be. Off to the right of the wine bar are several tables that fit four each (I guess in waiter/waitress slang is known as a four-top) to accommodate a few small parties.

The tasting fee is $7.00 for seven wines of which you got to pick from eight selections. It would seem to me that they would offer all eight wines for the same tasting fee. You could also taste their white Port style wine for an additional $2. I did and was glad I had done so.

Here are the wines I tried:

Seyval Blanc: This crisp white wine opened with pear, apricot, and nectarine aromas and had a nice pear flavor.

Chardonnay: A much more full bodied white wine produced apricot and peach aromas.  On the palate all I could taste was butternut squash. This truly did not sit well with me at all. This is the first time I have tried any wine that had a butternutty flavor -no, not for me, sorry this wine will not be in my cellar.

Woodridge White: A blend of Seyval Blanc and Chardonnay grapes and aged in oak for one year revealed a grassy marsh aroma like being close to the ocean with a ripe pear flavor. Again, this did nothing for my palate. Well, on to the next wine.

Cayuga White: Now this was more like it. It started with an apple orchard aroma at around dusk and was followed by apple and pear flavors with a nectarine finish. Oh yeah!

Goshen Farmhouse Red: A garnet colored wine had blackberries on the nose with the same flavor and was very fruity.

Merlot: This was quite a different Merlot than what I’m used to. It started with dark cherry and a hint of fennel on the nose. The palate revealed a forward cherry and licorice flavor which blended well with each other. After consuming a dark chocolate morsel, the licorice seemed to blossom.

Rose: With melon and fresh cut watermelon on the nose, the palate revealed a strawberry finish that had sweetness without being sweet. A nice summer sipping wine.

Vinho Fino: This white Port style wine had an apricot aroma with a peach flavor and a sweet lemony finish. This was the gem of the winery.