Saltwater Farm Vineyard – 2012

Driving down to Saltwater Farm Vineyard along the shoreline routes on a sunny afternoon with the temperature in the mid-80s I was, as they say, out for a Sunday drive. Although it was a Saturday it really didn’t make a difference as I was enjoying the day for what it was – just plain old pleasant. It was enjoyable because I didn’t have to go to work, I didn’t need to pay any bills, I didn’t need to wash the car, and I didn’t want to sit out on the deck and read. So what else was there to do? Yes, this is a rhetorical question as a wine tasting was in order. So, I was off to see what wines were in store for me to try.

Once I drove down the rock driveway I parked the wine mobile in the designated area and took in the incredible views of the vineyards. I enjoy the smell of the ocean air and seeing the many species of birds in their natural habitat.

Saltwater Farms is a great place to spend an afternoon on the back patio with a picnic lunch and a bottle of your favorite Saltwater Farms wine while overlooking the marsh and the wildlife it contains.

Although there wasn’t a sign that pointed directly to the tasting room the two enormous doors couldn’t be ignored and as an analytical individual I concluded this was the way I needed to go to start my wine tasting.

Inside there is a reception area where you check in and they direct you to an upstairs wine bar. Once I reached the second floor bar area I was met by Jessica (wine bar staff) and Paul (tasting room manager) and was immediately given a glass for tasting. The glass is a good sized one so you’re able to get the ‘ol schnozzola into the glass to fully grasp the wine’s aroma. The simple, but elegant egret in flight logo reminds you that the ocean is home to more than just wineries. Below is the list of wines I tried. Tastings are $10 per person and includes their signature logo glass.

2011 Sauvignon Blanc ($28): Aged in stainless steel tanks this opened with floral notes with a great explosive citrus aroma. On the palate were pear and sweet lemongrass. If you didn’t know you were at the ocean, this wine sure made you aware that you just might be. This was an excellent wine to start the tasting with.

2010 Estate Chardonnay ($18): Pear & nectarine combined to start this wine off on the right note. Pear, apple and citrus flavors were the highlights of this Chardonnay. Though I’m not a Chardonnay drinker, I was pleased with this one.

2009 Estate Chardonnay ($20): This portrayed citrusy notes on the nose with pear and green apple flavors with hints of nectarine and stone mineral notes on the back palate. This had a nice balance.

2010 “Gold Arc” Chardonnay ($27): A real nice citrusy aroma and flavor. Picture yourself getting off a plane in Florida during orange grove harvest time -yeah a bit like that. I did detect a hint of vanilla on the finish.

2011 Cabernet Rosé ($23): A product of Hurricane Irene’s salt spray yielded a French style rosé with an aroma of just entering the strawberry patch to pick fresh strawberries. On the palate were fresh strawberries galore. This had a real nice balance. I’m really beginning to warm up to rosés.

2010 Pinot Noir ($35): Barrel aged in French oak this opened with plum and pomegranate aromas. I found a soft plum flavor (my indication of a great Pinot). Made from estate and New York varietals, this for me, was the best wine of the tasting. A light garnet color, this wine also had a hint of pepper on the finish. If I had more time I would have purchased a glass and enjoyed it on the back patio.

2008 Cabernet Franc ($28): A nice plum color with blackberry fruits on the nose. Cherry candy, plum, and juicy blackberry flavors rounded out this wine.

2008 Merlot ($30): The last estate Merlot for awhile due to an early frost opened with raspberry and cherry aromas on the nose with surprising plum and raspberry flavors. this had a nice balance of flavors.

Stonington Vineyards – 2012

Before you enter the long and not so winding rock road you immediately see the vineyard sign welcoming you to the vineyard. For me this is when I get excited as I know I’m going to be tasting some wines in the very near future.

As I turned around the slight bend to enter the parking lot I spot a black limo just sitting there with nothing better to do except wait for its inhabitants. Actually, this is a smart thing to do especially if you’re opting to drink instead of just taste the wines. Or, as I found out when I got inside there was a bridal party (hence, the limo outside the tasting room) visiting some of the local wineries to scout the place the bride would eventually tie the knot and hold the wedding reception.

Of course we cannot forget the proverbial signs letting us know where the wine tasting will begin.

Once inside the tasting room there is a person at the cash register asking if you want to do a wine tasting. The cost is $12 for 7 wines plus you get to keep the signature wine glass. So below are the wines I got to taste.

2010 Sheer Chardonnay ($16.99): On the nose I found apple orchard aroma just like the middle of October when apples are prime for picking. The flavor was pretty much like biting into that apple you just picked for the orchard plus there was some minerality on the finish.

2010 Chardonnay ($20.99): Again, I found apple on the nose but mixed in with this were hints of vanilla, subtle but nonetheless it was there. As no surprise apple flavor followed and was similar to their Sheer Chardonnay.

2010 Vidal Blanc ($12.99): This dry white wine opened with floral and citrusy notes on the nose and followed with a concoction of lemon, lime, orange, nectarine, and peach flavors. This was a delicious wine and the wine bar staff seem to have perfected the art of serving white wine at exactly the right temperature. This is one of the best Vidal Blancs I’ve had and it’s at a very good price too.

2010 Riesling ($16.99): Another favorite of mine is this wine also served at the right chilled temperature. It opened with grapefruit, orange, and pineapple aromas. So, this wine was off to a good start and the flavors just blew me away with papaya, apricot, peach, and mango with hints of lime on the finish proved to be my favorite Stonington Vineyards wine. And yes, I have a few bottles of this in my wine cellar.

Seaport White ($10.99): The Seaport White is probably their best selling wine. It is a crisp, dry, fruity wine with a fruit bowl aroma and flavor. I did find a bit of sweetness to the wine but it was definitely not a sweet wine which was very pleasing to the palate. This would go great on a picnic and would compliment a number of foods you’d likely take on a picnic. A really nice wine given the cost.

2010 Triad Rosé ($15.99): This wine really surprised me. It is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Vidal Blanc, and Chardonnay. The actual percentages are unknown as I did not inquire as to what they were. On the nose I found cherry and fruit bowl aromas. On the palate were cherry, spice and pepper flavors. Served slightly chilled would also be a great picnic wine too. I can see this going great with a variety of picnic sandwiches. I’m really becoming a fan of Rosés.

2008 Cabernet Franc ($20.99): The Stonington Vineyards Cabernet Franc has always been one of my favorite red wines. On the nose I found a medley of dark berries – cherry, blackberry, and raspberry with earth notes lingering at the end. The flavors were predominately cherry with nuances of mocha and spice with hints of fresh cracked pepper.

Can you guess the bridal party?

Next week – Saltwater Farms Vineyard

Chamard Vineyards – 2012

Nestled just past the Clinton Outlets and down to the left a bit is the entrance to Chamard Vineyards – you have to look for it though unless you’re using GPS then you should have no problem finding the winery. As I entered the short gravel road from the road I stopped to get a few pictures of the grapes pondering the obvious that soon I would see them again if only in liquid form began to warm my heat and soul and I was excited about another tasting.

After parking the wine mobile (a vintage Austin Martin two- seater, actually it’s a ’98 Buick Century, but that’s why dreams were invented) I mulled around the grounds a bit before venturing in for my tasting adventure and noticed quite a lot of activity going on. I believe they were getting ready for an evening event, of which I would not be partaking as I would be long gone before the festivities began. But I did peruse the back and just enjoyed the water fountain before going in.

Here’s the view from just outside the entrance of the tasting room.

As I entered the tasting room there were 4 or 5 tasters mulling about the wine bar and I went to the far end to begin the tasting ritual. However, there was only one person tending the wine bar and seeing as she was the phone taker person too, it was a good 14 minutes before I was asked if I wanted to taste some wine. Then another 6 minutes passed as she had to answer the phone again. Plus she stamped the wrong page on my Passport but that was easily fixed. It must have been a tough day for the wine bar staff. I didn’t complain though as I could see she was having a rough go at it.

Once they paid attention to me they said I could taste five wines for $10 with the small wine glass. I don’t know about you but it’s real tough for me to put my schnozzola in that wine glass. In my opinion this glass is only good for having a few ounces of dessert wine at the end of an evening meal – not for tasting wines. Or for $15 I could receive a Riedel white or red wine glass. Now we’re talking serious wine tasting as everything tastes better in a Riedel wine glass. So, I opted for the Riedel.

The first wine I tasted was the Stone Cold White ($14.99) made with Chardonnay grapes from California. Pear, fresh cut grass, and hayfield on the nose and on the palate I found pear and apple flavors with some decent acidity.

Next I tried the Gewürztraminer ($14.99) and this was produced with grapes imported from the Finger Lakes region of New York. Made in the Alsace tradition made this a bit drier than the German style Gewürztraminer. Apple, honeydew melon, and some pear on the nose all blending quite nicely. On the palate I found grapefruit and papaya. This was my favorite at this winery.

Next was their 2006 Estate Chardonnay ($19.99) which is estate grown grapes and fermented for 60% in oak and 40% in stainless steel. A golden color with hayloft (but not musty, more like fresh cut hay that was just stored in the hayloft) with some earthy notes too. Honeysuckle was the predominate flavor (or at least this was all that I could get from the wine), oh and a hint of lime on the finish.

The next wine was their Rosé ($14.99) and I was mildly pleased with the final product. The grapes are imported from Chile and made with 50% Malbec and 50% Merlot. I found herbal and veggie notes on the nose with some mushroom. Then on the palate were spice and cherry flavors.

The last wine on the tasting menu was the Merlot ($16.99) which was a blend of 80% Merlot, and a 20% blend of the following: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot done in the Bordeaux style. Pepper, spice, and red cherry aromas wafted from the rim of the glass to give the taster a prelude of what to expect from the flavor. On the palate were cherry hard candy and pepper flavors.

They also have many songwriter/singer music venues as well. I might just try one this summer. See their website for dates/times as they’re usually held on the weekends.

Next week – Stonington Vineyards

Bishops Orchard Winery – 2012

Down by the shoreline in Guilford, CT lies the farm market of Bishop’s Orchards and they offer as their tasting flight six circles with two to four wines per circle to choose from. The tasting fee is $6 and includes their signature wine glass. Upon entering the farm market their vision statement is there for all to see.

Then immediately as you look straight ahead there is another sign directing you to the wine bar – ah, now we’re getting somewhere.

The first circle had the Stone House White ($13.50) that had a lot of fruit on the nose with apple being the dominate aroma. This was quite dry and good with apple flavors with a nice degree of tartness. There was a hint of pear on the back palate.

From the second circle I choose their Celebration ($14.50) and this was loaded with apples on both the nose and palate. I found fresh apple pie with cinnamon and sugar on the finish. This was a very decent semi-dry fruit wine.

On to the halfway point of my tasting tour I chose the Hard Cider New England ($9.95). As you would expect apple was found on both the nose and palate. However, I did get a nice effervescence on the mid-palate. With 6% alcohol by volume I almost mistakenly thought of this as a bubbly but the apple finish told me this was a very good hard cider.

Next, I chose the Apple Raspberry Blush ($14.50) and the very first aroma to hit the ‘ol schnozzola was raspberry. Incidentally, on the palate I experienced the same raspberry flavor with a hint of apple.

For circle five, I ended up trying the Honey Peach Melba ($14.50). Definitive peach and honey aroma with hints of floral notes on the nose and maybe a hint of honey-lemon tea too. The flavors were similar to the aromas with a semi-sweet peach finish that went away too quick.

For the last circle I went with the Strawberry Delight ($15.00). A dessert wine with the color of a fine brandy with a distinct strawberry aroma. The flavor was of strawberry which didn’t surprise me but it did exhibit a brandy type finish. It was most unusual and mildly enticing.

Well, I thought I was done with my tasting here but Laurie brought out their Sachem’s Twilight ($22.00) as a bonus tasting. And yes, that’s Laurie getting my surprise wine for an added feature to their selection. I found a medley of peach, pear, and apple on the nose. A pear finish with lots of bubblies. This wasn’t on the tasting menu but was glad they poured this as a special bonus.

Next week – Chamard Vineyards

Priam Vineyards – 2012

Priam Vineyards was the last winery visit of this wine trip and as it turned out it was a real good visit.  Not only did I talk with the wine staff, I also had several conversations with other tasters who happened to stop by . When I first walked in, Caroline, one of the wine staff wanted to know if this was my first visit (which was “No”, but first visit of the 2012 wine season) and she also asked if I wanted to do a tasting (and yes, I wanted to do a tasting).

Let’s back up just a frame or two…here is the entrance to the tasting room. And next to the cork wreath is their hours of operation.

Caroline explained they had two tastings to choose from. The first was $7 and included five wines and the other was $14 for eight wines with a larger signature glass for you to keep. I opted for the second tasting but I also indulged in the two Reserve and two Dessert wines on the menu as well. Each wine was an additional $2 each. What I didn’t expect was the barrel tasting Gary brought up from the cellar on the Salmon River Red which was quite a treat. Anytime you get to enjoy a barrel tasting please do so as you get a chance to taste future wine now.

So, Priam has two wine bars in which to serve the wines but seeing as there were only a half dozen tasters while I was there the first of the two wine bars was being utilized.

The first wine on the menu was their Chardonnay ($19.00) and it opened with apple and honeydew melon on the nose and followed with flavors of Peach Melba dessert and lemongrass on the palate. I’ll mention here that they stored this in stainless steel instead of oak and this is a first for Priam as they usually use oak barrels.

The second wine I tried was the Blackledge Rosé ($17.50) had summer fruits of fresh raspberries and strawberries on the nose. Although I prefer a hearty red I am warming up to drinking a Rosé from time to time. Pomegranate and plum on the palate with hints of white pepper. Another good thing about this wine is 15% of the purchase of this wine is donated to the Backus Hospital Breast Cancer Survivors Fund. It’s a good thing when local wineries give back to the community – this is why I like to support local wines.

Next up was the Riesling ($19.00) which is an Alsatian style Riesling, so it’s drier than some of the sweeter German Rieslings. I really am getting to like this type of wine a lot more than I ever have. It’s a very versatile wine and goes with a number of different cuisines. This had a fresh pear aroma with crisp, clean citrus flavors. On the finish I detected a bit of minerality that finished this tasting quite nicely.

The Jeremy River White ($16.50) opened with floral notes with a pleasing honeysuckle aroma. This semi sweet Riesling blend had peachy-pear and honeydew melon on  the palate with fresh fruit bowl on the finish. Very crisp with good acidity.

Late Harvest Riesling ($35.00) was the next wine I tried and as expected with many late harvest wines this was sweeter with a nice pear aroma and flavor. A pretty good after dinner wine to sip on out on the patio.

Caroline let me try the 2009 Westchester Red ($19.50) at room temperature which is a blend of six varietals (a well kept secret though) and opened with bing cherry and black cherry aromas. Sweet cherry and mocha flavors followed and had good tannins with a long semi-sweet chocolate finish. Then I tried this chilled (you know me with red wines – I like them room temperature and I actually cringe when someone tells me they put ice cubes in their red wine. But then again, that’s what’s so nice about wine – it’s all about personal taste.

Anyway, back to the chilled Westchester Red, now I found Cherries Jubilee as the aroma and Red Velvet cake with cherry sauce flavor on the palate. This was the best I had tasted here of this wine. I think I’m warming up to the idea of slightly chilled red wine. Why I’ll never know, but who knows what will happen next.

The Salmon River Red ($19.50) had red and black raspberries, blackberry, mulberry, some fig, tobacco, and leather on the nose. Blackberry, strawberry, and raspberry flavors with a long raspberry finish.

One of Priam’s reserve wines is the Salmon River Red PV ($32.00) had fig and pepper aromas with black cherry and chocolate on the back palate and it had a long, lingering finish.

Next up was the St. Croix ($22.50) and opened with cherry but not overpowering, a very subtle aroma with hints of oak. Cherry and raspberry followed on the palate. After this wine I tasted the Essence of St. Croix ($26.50) and found tobacco, leather, and earth notes on the nose. What followed was pure joy with sweet raspberry with hints of plum jam.

Then I had a real treat as Gary brought up a glass (not a sample mind you) of the Salmon River Red from the barrel in the back room. This had wild black raspberry and mulberry with chocolate and vanilla notes on the nose. Black cherry, bing cherry, and sweet ripe plum flavors with a smooth finish. Then I tried the same wine after having a Moser Roth chocolate which was 70% cocoa and definitely of European origin (my favorite). The flavor now became a Black Forest cake with cherries. It’s amazing how a wine changes complexity by the temperature it is served at or with certain foods it will take on a whole new identity.

Lastly, I tried the Late Harvest Gëwurztraminer ($35.00) and on the nose were floral notes with hints of peach, nectarine and apricot. As you would expect from a dessert wine the finish found sweet peach and pear on the palate.

Oh BTW, don’t forget to check out Priam’s unWINEd concert series. Every Friday from July through September from 6:00-8:30 pm you can enjoy a number of music venues. I went to one last year and plan on getting in a few in this year too.

Next week – Bishop’s Orchards Winery.

Arrigoni Winery – 2012

Located on route 66 in Portland, CT I had been by this building a million times. I never really noticed it until now of course. Previously the building held a boutique shop with all sorts of merchandise to purchase. But everything is on sale now as the lady (I apologize for not getting her name) behind the wine bar said they were going to concentrate on running the winery and producing wines. Arrigoni Winery has been open five weeks as of the day I visited on June 8th.

Their tasting fee is $6.95 for five wines and you get to keep the signature souvenir wine glass. I’m wondering what the owners are going to do with the boutique portion of the building. I’m thinking they may put in tables and chairs as they do have a patio out back which I forgot to get a picture of – another wine trip perhaps?

They had three white wines and two reds on their tasting menu. The first one I tried was the River Bend ($15.50). On the nose were tropical fruit and pineapple & melon too. Mostly pineapple on the flavor. I would recommend serving this well-chilled. The Sunset ($15.50) I enjoyed more with pineapple, nectarine, and peach aromas led into fruity orange and pineapple flavors. This was my favorite white here at this winery. The last white wine was a fruit one called Orchard Valley ($14) and as you would expect with an apple wine you experienced apple aromas and flavors, but this did have some tartness to it on the finish which was pleasing.

The red wines were next and the first one was the Driftwood ($15.50) where I found dark red cherry, plum, and pepper on the nose followed by bing cherry, plum, and peppercorn on the palate. The Rosso ($15.50) was a decent red that they offer either at room temperature or you can get it chilled – your choice. I opted for the chilled version. Floral notes on the nose which surprised me with cherry and blackberry flavors. There was something else going on that was pleasant to the palate but I couldn’t pick it out – maybe you can when you visit them.

If you are done for the day you can purchase a bottle on sit out on the patio for the rest of the afternoon or you can purchase wine by the glass for $6.

Next week – Priam Vineyards

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

Holmberg Orchards & Farm Winery – 2012

Well I’m back on the wine trail again and my first official stop was to Holmberg Orchards & Farm Winery. Their wine menu was limited with four ciders to choose from along with a pear wine and a blueberry wine. Their Vidal Blanc is due out soon so I will have to get back here to try it out as I have been waiting a whole year to sample this wine.

As you can see when I arrived the welcome sign beckoned me to step right up and partake in some libations. As I entered the small building, Jen, the wine staff person cheerily greeted me on a partly sunny day that threatened showers at any moment. She asked if I wanted to try some wines (if she really knew me this would be a rhetorical question) and of course, you know what my answer was 🙂

Inside the tasting room, Holmberg’s can easily accommodate 8-10 wine tasters at a time. It’s fairly cozy inside and when I arrived no other tasters were close at hand. I asked Jen (yes, that’s her crouched down by the wine cooler getting the samples I would be trying) how it was going and she said it was a bit slow with maybe half a dozen tasters had been in so far. Seeing as it was around 3:30 in the afternoon I could understand how quiet of a day she was having. However, I must have been the good luck charm as shortly after I arrived, two young ladies came in. And as I was leaving, five more tasters were en-route to the small shed-like building.

Once in side the tasting room I did notice a bottle with what appeared to have something in it and upon closer examination I noticed a pear growing inside or should I say already grown. As you can see it is grown inside the bottle so pear brandy can be made. The brandy is made by Westford Hill Distillers and is quite unique and a great gift idea. Anyway, Holmberg grows the pears inside the bottle and Westford makes the brandy. I must try this out. But on to the wine tasting.

The first wine I tasted was the Pearfection Pear wine ($12.99) and it opened with pear and fresh cut hay on the nose. A nice pleasant pear taste followed almost like biting into a fresh ripe pear. Jen recommended this wine for seafood dishes. I would tend to agree.

Then I tried the Bleuphoria Blueberry wine ($17.99) and was quite delectable as this wasn’t strong on the blueberry flavor yet you knew this was a blueberry wine and the fruit was balanced on the palate much the same as a young red wine would.

Next up were the four ciders and all were at $7.99 with around 5-7% alcohol by volume. On their tasting menu were the Russet Hard Cider, English Draught Hard Cider, Cortland Hard Cider, and the MacIntosh Hard Cider. All of them portrayed apple aromas and flavors but each one had its own nuances.

The Cortland Hard Cider was the most effervescent reminding you of a bubbly sparkling wine. The MacIntosh Hard Cider was the sweetest of the four ciders I tried. The Russet Hard Cider tastes just like fresh apples in a fall harvest even though it’s still June.

This was my favorite cider from last year and will probably be my favorite this year as well. The English Draught might give the Russet a run for the money. This wine reminded me of apple juice – with a kick, just the thing you need to start your day.

Of course if you decide to call it a day and just want to enjoy the rest of your time sitting near the wine room you can stop in and purchase a bottle of your favorite Holmberg Orchards wine and enjoy the day. You might want to dry off the seats though, unless you’re a frog, in which case you shouldn’t be drinking wine at all.

Next week – Lost Acres Vineyard

Best of Connecticut Wineries for 2011

Seeing as I have just started to get to the wineries on the CT Wine Trail I thought I would review the thirty wineries I visited last year in the “best of” categories before I get too involved with visiting the thirty-two wineries on the wine trail this year.

The wineries/vineyards involved in this fun “best of” stuff include Bishops Orchards, Cassidy Hill, Chamard, Connecticut Valley, Dalice Elizabeth, DiGrazia, Gouveia, Haight-Brown, Heritage Trail, Holmberg Orchards, Hopkins, Jerram, Jonathan Edwards, Jones, Land of Nod, Maugle Sierra, McLaughlin, Miranda, North Winds, Paradise Hills, Priam, Rosedale Farms, Saltwater Farms, Savino, Sharpe Hill, Stonington, Sunset Meadow, Taylor Brooke, Walker Road, and White Silo. Choosing the “best of” for Connecticut was much more difficult than choosing the “best of” of Rhode Island due to the fact CT has five times the amount of wineries.

Again, a number of the categories were as a result of the readers of this blog, so here goes:

Winery most like Napa Valley – Chamard (honorable mention – Jonathan Edwards but with a New England flair)

Most expensive winery (avg price of wine offered) – Dalice Elizabeth

Least expensive winery (avg price of wine offered) – Holmberg Orchards

Best fruit wine – Holmberg Orchards for their Russet & Cortland Hard Ciders (honorable mention – Bishops Orchards for their Apple Raspberry Blush & Jones Farm for their Strawberry Serenade)

Best winery name – Dalice Elizabeth has a certain ring to it (honorable mentions – Taylor Brooke, Land of Nod, Cassidy Hill, North Wind, Sunset Meadow)

Best winery staff – Haight-Brown (honorable mention – Taylor Brooke)

Best stories – DiGrazia for the “California story” among other great stories (honorable mention – Taylor Brooke for “bud break”)

Most rustic winery – Maugle Sierra  (honorable mentions – Sharpe Hill & DiGrazia)

Most passionate winery – Taylor Brooke (honorable mention – DiGrazia)

Best white wine – Tie between Saltwater Farms for their Sauvignon Blanc & Sharpe Hill for their Ballet of Angels (honorable mention –  Taylor Brooke for their Green Apple Riesling)

Best red wine – Haight-Brown for their Picnic Red (honorable mention – Stonington for their Cabernet Franc)

Best Rose – DiGrazia for their Anastasia’s Blush (honorable mention – Miranda for their Miranda Rose)

Best Chardonnay – Sharpe Hill for their Reserve Chardonnay (honorable mention – Chamard for their Reserve Chardonnay)

Best summer wine – Taylor Brooke for their Summer Peach (honorable mention – Miranda for their Woodbridge White)

Most unusual wine – Sharpe Hill for their Pontefract (honorable mention – Cassidy Hill for their Summer Breeze)

Friendliest winery –  Connecticut Valley Winery (honorable mention – Haight-Brown, Stonington, Taylor Brooke, Cassidy Hill, Saltwater Farms, DiGrazia, & Priam)

Best wine selection – Taylor Brooke (honorable mention – Bishops Orchards)

Wine that knocks your socks off – Taylor Brooke for their Chocolate Essence (honorable mention – Connecticut Valley for their Black Bear Port)

Best view – Tie between Gouveia for the mountains & Saltwater Farms for the ocean.

Best wine logo – Saltwater Farms (honorable mention – Cassidy Hill)

Best tasting room decor – Haight-Brown (honorable mention – Jones Winery)

Best tasting room fee – Land of Nod

Best looking grapevines – Connecticut Valley (honorable mention – Sharpe Hill)

Best wine bar – Jones Winery

Best wine glasses – Heritage Trail for stemless (honorble mention – Dalice Elizabeth), Priam for stemmed (honorable mention – Saltwater Farms)

Best outdoor area – Saltwater Farms (honorable mention – Gouveia)

Best wine labels – Jerram (honorable mention – Hopkins)

Best average Witless Whiner wine rating – Taylor Brooke (honorable mention – Haight-Brown)

Best “cork value” winery – Taylor Brooke (honorable mention – Bishops Orchards, Holmberg Orchards)

Best winery to spend the afternoon at – Saltwater Farms

Best overall CT winery – This is really tough so I’m going to give you my top 6 wineries – Taylor Brooke, Connecticut Valley Winery, Haight-Brown, Cassidy Hill, DiGrazia, & Saltwater Farms



Best of Rhode Island Wineries for 2011

Seeing as I have not been able to get to any new wineries for quite awhile and given the price of gas here in New England the prospects of visiting the rest of the New England wineries I have not yet visited will have to be carefully planned out. So, instead I thought I would review the wineries of Connecticut and Rhode Island from last year’s visit of which I have been to at least the majority in each state. I have only been to about half of the wineries in Massachusetts and none in Vermont, New Hampshire, or Maine.

I decided I would have some fun and place the wineries into “best of” categories. The wineries/vineyards involved in this fun “best of” stuff include Diamond Hill Vineyard, Greenvale Vineyards, Langworthy Farm Winery, Newport Vineyards, and Sakonnet Vineyards. I tried twice to visit Shelalara but was unsuccessful in locating them so they are not included in the “best of” categories.

A number of the categories were as a result of the readers of this blog, so here goes:

Winery most like Napa Valley – Sakonnet

Most expensive winery (avg price of wine offered) – Langworthy

Least expensive winery (avg price of wine offered) – Diamond Hill

Best fruit wine – Diamond Hill for their blackberry wine (honorable mention – Newport for their Rhody Coyote Hard Apple Cider)

Best winery name – This was tough but I would choose between Diamond Hill and Sakonnet

Best winery staff – Diamond Hill because of the “stories” she told  (honorable mention – Greenvale also because of the”stories”)

Best stories – See “Best winery staff”

Most rustic winery – Greenvale (honorable mention – Langworthy)

Most passionate winery – Diamond Hill (honorable mention – Langworthy)

Best white wine – Sakonnet for their Vidal Blanc (honorable mention – Greenvale for their Rosecliff Pinot Gris)

Best red wine – Sakonnet for the Anniversary Claret (honorable mention – Newport for their Rochambeau)

Best Rose – Sakonnet for their Cabernet Franc Rose (honorable mention – Newport for their Rose of Cabernet)

Best Chardonnay – Sakonnet (honorable mention – Newport for their In The Buff Chardonnay)

Best summer wine – Greenvale for their Skipping Stone White (honorable mention – Newport for their Great White)

Most unusual wine – Newport for their Blaufrankish (honorable mention – Newport for their Tranquility)

Friendliest winery – Diamond Hill (honorable mention – Sakonnet)

Best wine selection – Sakonnet (honorable mention – Tie between Diamond Hill & Newport)

Wine that knocks your socks off – Sakonnet for their Reserve Port

Best view – Sakonnet (honorable mention – Greenvale)

Best wine logo – Greenvale (honorable mention – Sakonnet)

Best tasting room decor – Sakonnet (honorable mention – Greenvale)

Best tasting room fee – Diamond Hill (it was free)

Best looking grapevines – Sakonnet

Best wine bar – Sakonnet (the bar must fit a gazillion tasters at once)

Best wine glasses – Greenvale

Best outdoor area – Sakonnet (honorable mention – Greenvale)

Best wine labels – Sakonnet (honorable mention – Newport)

Best average Witless Whiner wine rating – Diamond Hill (honorable mention – Sakonnet)

Best “cork value” winery – Diamond Hill (honorable mention – Greenvale)

Best winery to spend the afternoon at – Sakonnet

Best overall RI winery – Sakonnet – based on the fantastic tasting room, gorgeous views, lots of picnic areas to sit and relax in, with a great wine list to choose from. (honorable mention – Diamond Hill – based on the fact they have a great porch to view their garden and relax with your favorite class of wine and listen to the owner’s stories)