And The Winner Is…

The results of the 12th Annual Connecticut Specialty Food Product Awards Competition were announced this morning. We are pleased to report that Sunset Meadow Vineyards in Goshen, CT was awarded 2013 Wine Product of the Year for their outstanding 2010 Midnight Ice.

"We are proud of our entire staff for all of their efforts and share with them the recognition for this achievement," stated George Motel, owner of Sunset Meadow Vineyards and vice president of the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association. "This is confirmation of the ability to create a quality wine that is also a genuine Connecticut product."

This was only the third year that Connecticut wines were included in what was formerly a food and non-alcoholic beverage competiton. All of the wines submitted were required to be made from 100% Connecticut grown fruit. The Connecticut Specialty Food Association (CSFA) received 28 submissions from 5 wineries.

"We applaud the CSFA for conducting the state's only competition that requires every wine to be made from 100% Connecticut grown fruit," said Motel, "and for recognizing the contribution of those wineries that work to produce these wines."

After participating in the judging last week, Renee B. Allen, director of the Wine Institute of New England, shared the four wines from among her favorites that she picked as likely to appear in the winner's circle. All four of the wines chosen were awarded first place finishes in their respective categories. To read Allen's impressions of these wines, visit http://wineinstituteofnewengland.com/judging-connecticut-wines-for-the-ct-specialty-food-association/

Analiese Paik, founder of the Fairfield Green Food Guide, served as a specialty food judge and was happy to see all of her picks for best products receive an award. For a complete list of food winners from the competition and to read about Paik's favorites, visit http://fairfieldgreenfoodguide.com/2013/04/02/2013-ct-specialty-food-award-winners-announced/  

And the wine winners are…

 

THE CT SPECIALTY FOOD ASSOCIATION’S

2013 PRODUCT AWARDS COMPETITION WINNERS:

2013 Wine Product of the Year

Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen, CT

Midnight Ice 2010

MidnightIce

 

Wine – Blush

 

1st Place             Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen, CT, Sunset Blush, 2010

2nd Place            Bishop’s Orchards Winery, Guilford, CT, Amazing Grace

 

Wine – Dessert

 

1st Place             Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen, CT, Midnight Ice, 2010

 

2nd Place            Taylor Brooke Winery, LLC, Woodstock, CT, Corot Noir, 2011

 

3rd Place             Taylor Brooke Winery, LLC, Woodstock, CT, Woodstock Valley Red, 2010

 

Wine – Dry Red

 

1st Place             Jones Winery, Shelton, CT, Cabernet Franc, 2010

 

2nd Place            Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen, CT, St. Croix, 2008

 

3rd Place             Jonathan Edwards Winery, North Stonington, CT, Cabernet Franc, 2011

 

Wine – Dry White

 

1st Place             Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen, CT, Cayuga White, 2010

 

2nd Place            Taylor Brooke Winery, LLC, Woodstock, CT, Wine Dog 1, 2011

 

3rd Place             Taylor Brooke Winery, LLC, Woodstock, CT, Woodstock Hill White, 2011

 

Wine – Fruit

 

1st Place             Bishop’s Orchards Winery, Guilford, CT, Hyland Red

 

2nd Place  TIE    Bishop’s Orchards Winery, Guilford, CT, Celebration

              Bishop’s Orchards Winery, Guilford, CT, Honey Peach Melba

 

3rd Place             Bishop’s Orchards Winery, Guilford, CT, Happily Impeared

 

Wine – Other White

 

1st Place             Jones Winery, Shelton, CT, Woodland White, 2011

 

2nd Place            Bishop’s Orchards Winery, Guilford, CT, Hard Cider – Semi-Sweet

 

3rd Place             Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen, CT, Blustery Blend, 2010

 

Wine – Rosé

 

1st Place             Taylor Brooke Winery, LLC, Woodstock, CT, St. Croix Rosé, 2011

 

2nd Place            Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen, CT, Rosé, 2011

 

3rd Place             Jones Winery, Shelton, CT, Rosé of Cabernet Franc, 2011

 

You can visit the Connecticut Food Association at www.ctfoodassociation.org

Press Release: Connecticut Wine Festival

 

FOURTH ANNUAL CONNECTICUT WINE FESTIVAL IS “GETTING

BETTER WITH AGE,” SAY PARTICIPATING WINERIES

 

More Music, More Entertainment, and More Wine at the Goshen Fairgrounds Saturday and Sunday, July 28th and 29th

 

Farmington, CT (July 18, 2012) –Connecticut wines will be on full display at the fourth annual Connecticut Wine Festival, Saturday and Sunday, July 28th and 29th, at the Goshen Fairgrounds, in Goshen, Connecticut. Featuring some of the finest, award winning local labels, thirteen participating wineries – all members of the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association (CVWA) – will be offering samplings of their many wines, while surrounded by music, artisan crafts, and wine lovers from all around the East Coast.

Daily admission to the CT Wine Festival is $25 in advance, available until July 21st at participating CVWA wineries, online, or by phone; $30 at the door.  These tickets include free wine tastings, a commemorative festival wine glass (for the tastings) and a tote bag. Guests under 21 and Designated Drivers can attend for a reduced admission price of $10.  Photo ID with proof of age is required for the wine tasting.  Hours of the Festival are 12:00 Noon to 7:00 PM, Saturday, July 28; and 12:00 Noon to 6:00 PM Sunday, July 29.  More information and a complete list of participating wineries can be found at www.ctwine.com.

Among the special events at the Festival is a wine class on Saturday, July 28th, conducted by Renée Allen, founder and Director of the Wine Institute of New England, which promotes wine appreciation and education at every level.  Renée is a Certified Specialist of Wine and a member in good standing of the Society of Wine Educators, the internationally recognized accrediting organization. "We are looking forward to Renée joining us this year and are excited about the wine expertise she brings to the attendees," says Sherrie Palmer, Festival Manager.

 

Connecticut Wines – Winning Friends, Influencing People

Connecticut wines are making their marks in the world and growing in popularity.  Last year’s festival drew a record number of attendees, including one special visitor, Governor Dannel P. Malloy.  This year, a representative from the Governor’s office will be on hand to receive a special “Certificate of Appreciation” for his ongoing support of the local wine industry and its important contribution to the state’s tourism effort. 

“The CVWA is proud to be recognized by Governor Malloy as a contributor to Connecticut tourism through our CT Wine Trail and CT Wine Festival, as well as through the individual efforts of the many participating wineries and vineyards whose award-winning labels are ‘putting Connecticut wines on the world map,’” said George Motel, Festival Chairman and owner of Sunset Meadows Vineyards.  “The Festival is a great place to see what all the excitement is about.  From Chardonnay to Merlot, attendees can taste some of Connecticut’s best wines from 13 participating vineyards.”

 

Purchasing Tickets

Tickets can be purchased in advance until July 21 at: Bishop’s Orchards Vineyards, Gouveia Vineyards, Jones Winery, Hopkins Vineyard, Miranda Vineyard, Sharpe Hill Vineyard, Sunset Meadow Vineyards, and Taylor Brooke Winery. Advanced tickets are also available at Adams Hometown Market, a Platinum Sponsor of the Festival.

Proceeds from the Festival will go toward promoting the CT Wine Trail and the Connecticut wine industry.  The CT Wine Trail is a state approved winery and vineyard awareness program that provides visitors with route suggestions to all participating members of the CVWA.  Visitors enjoy special wine tours and tastings, and can have their CT Wine Passport stamped at each winery along the trail for the possibility of winning prizes – all while enjoying the beautiful Connecticut countryside. 

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit a participating winery or log on to www.ctwine.com.  You can also email info@ctwine.com or call (860) 677-5467.

 

Participating Wineries

The following wineries will be present at the Connecticut Wine Festival.  They are all members of the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association, and are dedicated to promoting Connecticut as a wine-producing region.

Bishop’s Orchards Vineyards – Owned by Keith B. Bishop, this unique winery is located in the historic town of Guilford. Winner, Gold Medal, 2010 Grand Harvest Competition; and Gold Medal: 2009 International Eastern Wine.  Log on to: www.bishopsorchardswinery.com/

DiGrazia Vineyards – Founded in 1978 and owned by Paul DiGrazia, DiGrazia Vineyards produces over 15 different wines, ranging from dry to sweet.  Located in Brookfield, DiGrazia is known for offering a wide variety of unique wines, including Connecticut grown pear dessert wines.  Log on to: www.digrazia.com/

Gouveia Vineyards – Owned by Joe and Lucy Gouveia, located in Wallingford, Gouveia offers 11 different wines.  Voted Best Rose in Connecticut 2010 by the Specialty Food Service Awards and Gold Medal Stone House Red winner at the 2008 Big E Wine Competition, Gouveia offers 11 different wines.  Log on to: www.gouveiavineyards.com/awards.html

Hopkins Vineyard – Located in the heart of Litchfield Hills, Hopkins Vineyard has been making wine for over 30 years. With more than eleven different varieties of award winning wines, Hopkins Vineyard has received gold, silver, and bronze medals in National and International competitions, alike.  Log on to: www.hopkinsvineyard.com/

Jonathan Edwards Winery– Located in the quaint village of North Stonington, the winery is owned by the Edwards family. With vineyards in both Connecticut and Napa Valley, it prides itself on having “New England Charm and Napa Style.”  Log on to: www.jedwardswinery.com/

Jones Winery – Spanning 150 years and six generations of the Jones family, owner Jamie Jones carries on the tradition in the White Hills of Shelton. Connecticut Magazine said the Jones Winery had “the Best Connecticut Wine” in 2010 and 2011.  Log on to: www.jonesfamilyfarms.com/

Miranda Vineyard – Owned by Maria and Manny Miranda, Miranda Vineyard uses the perfect blend of Old World wine-making techniques with modern techniques to keep any connoisseur happy.  Gold Medal winner at the 2010 Amenti del Vino International Wine Competition for its Vinho Fino.  Log on to: www.mirandavineyard.com/

Priam Vineyards – Founded in 1998 by Gloria Priam and Gary Crump, Priam Vineyards has quickly become a favorite in New London County.  Producing wines styled after Northern France and Germany, Priam Vineyards’ Late Harvest Riesling was a Double Gold Medal winner at the 2011 International EasternWine Competition.  Log on to: www.priamvineyards.com

Sharpe Hill Vineyard – Located in the historic town of Pomfret, Sharpe Hill Vineyard features a Zagat-rated restaurant and boasts over 250 medals in International tasting awards. The winery is just minutes from the scenic Route 169, as well as the Putnam Antiques District. Log on to: www.sharpehill.com

Stonington Vineyards – Established in 1987 by Nick and Happy Smith, Stonington Vineyards has become known for producing quality, European-style table wines. The winery is best known for its barrel fermented Chardonnays and its proprietary blends Seaport White and Triad Rose.  Log on to: www.stoningtonvineyards.com/

Sunset Meadow Vineyards – Located in the scenic town of Goshen and owned by George and Judy Motel, Sunset Meadow is among New England’s largest producing vineyards. It was voted “New England’s Best Family Winery” by Yankee Magazine and has been featured in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Seven different wines have won Gold medals, including its 2010 Chardonnay, which took home the Gold in the 2012 International Eastern Wine competition. Log on to: www.sunsetmeadowvineyards.com.”

Taylor Brooke Winery – Located in the quiet northeastern part of Connecticut, Taylor Brooke Winery, which started as a hobby, grew into one of Connecticut’s favorite wineries.  Owned by Richard and Linda Auger, Taylor Brooke is winner of Raspberry Rendezvous – 2009 Big E Wine Competition Silver Medal. Log on to: www.taylorbrookewinery.com

White Silo Winery – Known for being a small specialty winery, White Silo was established in 1990 and housed in a 19th century dairy barn.  Owned by the Gorman family, it has received awards such as the Big E: Gold; Silver awards. Log on to: http://whitesilowinery.com/

For more information and to purchase tickets, log on to www.ctwine.com.  You can also email info@ctwine.com or call (860) 677-5467.

 

# # #

 

Editorial Contact:

Mario Almonte

212-616-1190, ext. 267

malmonte@herman-almontepr.com

 

It’s Back…The Connecticut Wine Festival!

 

This just in: The dates for the Fourth Annual Connecticut Wine Festival have been set and tickets are now on sale. WINE had the pleasure of attending this event last year and it was an incredible success. For coverage of last year's event, visit http://wineinstituteofnewengland.com/discovering-connecticut-wine-at-the-connecticut-wine-festival/

 

CONNECTICUT WINE FESTIVAL

Saturday and Sunday, July 28 and July 29, 2012

 

You’re sure to “have a grape day” at the Fourth Annual Connecticut Wine Festival, which returns to the Goshen Fairgrounds in Connecticut this summer.  Featuring fine wines, specialty food vendors, artisans, and live music, it is the perfect summer activity for both the amateur and sophisticated wine connoisseur. The festival enjoyed a record number of guests last year, and this year, organizers are promising “more music, more excitement, good food, and lots of great local wines.” Sponsored by the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association, adult guests can sample the finest wines Connecticut has to offer from many of the state's top wineries – all included in their “tasting ticket” price.  They also receive a free tote bag with a commemorative wine glass to use for the tastings. More information and a complete list of participating wineries can be found at www.ctwine.com.

 

DATE: Saturday and Sunday, July 28th and 29th

TIME: Saturday, 12 p.m. – 7 p.m.; Sunday, 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

LOCATION: Goshen Fairgrounds, Route 63, Goshen, Connecticut 

 

ADMISSION: $25 in advance at any participating CVWA winery, by phone or online; $30 at the door. Guests under 21 and Designated Drivers can attend for a reduced admission price of $10.

Contact: info@ctwine.com or (860) 677-5467

 

2012 CT Specialty Food Association Product Awards Competition

The CT Specialty Food Association (CSFA) held it’s eleventh Product Awards Competition on Thursday, March 8, 2012, at the Aqua Turf in Plantsville. 203 specialty food items from Connecticut-based manufacturers were entered into 36 categories, with hopes of receiving the prestigious honor of CSFA Product Award Winner 2012.

A panel of 21 judges consisting of local media personalities, food writers, chefs from the CT Department of Agriculture’s Farm-to-Chef Program, and wine specialists scored products on overall taste/flavor, consistency/texture, appeal, and color. Each judge was assigned to specific categories, responsible for evaluating an average of approximately 35 different products.

Categories included breads, cheese, confections, CT Grown, gluten-free, organic, pasta sauces, salad dressings, savory condiments, snack foods, and many others.The wide array of food products featured fresh breads, cheeses, many varieties of sauce, jams, relishes, flavored seeds, oils and vinegars, syrups and much, much more.

“It is always amazing to see the diversity and high quality of the foods and beverages made by producers right here in Connecticut,” said Tricia Levesque, CSFA Director. “This competition showcases the best of the best in the state. Each year we seem to find additional entrepreneurs looking to showcase the outstanding products they produce. Not only are these products perfect for everyday meals and parties, they also make wonderful gifts. There is always something for every member of the family.”

“Purchasing products from Connecticut companies helps to fuel our local economy and create jobs here in our state, which is so important in today’s economy,” Ms. Levesque continued. “It really is a win-win for everyone – consumers get the best quality foods available and Connecticut companies stay strong.”

Consumers looking for CT specialty food products can visit www.ctspecialtyfood.org and ask for them at local markets and grocers.

Last year Connecticut wines were included in the competition for the first time. A variety of wines produced here in Connecticut were entered again this year. All wines were required to contain 100% CT grown fruit. New also this year were three of the four wine judges. Returning judge Renee Allen, Director of the Wine Institute of New England, helped CSFA put together an experienced team of wine tasters that included Brian Mitchell, Director of Wine & Beverages for Max Restaurant Group, Daniel Chong-Jimenez, Director of Culinary for ChefDesigned, LLC and Nicholas Paris, Public Relations Manager for E. & J. Gallo. Although the wine judges may not have seen eye to eye on every wine tasted, all of the judges agreed that Connecticut wines have shown remarkable positive growth over the last several years. Sunset Meadow Vineyards from Goshen, CT had a particularly strong showing, taking first place in four of the seven categories. The list of wine winners appears below. For a complete list of all winners from the competition, please visit www.fairfieldgreenfoodguide.com.

From left to right: Nicholas Paris, Brian Mitchell, Renee Allen, Daniel Chong-Jimenez

Wine – Blush

1st Place

Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen, CT Sunset Blush 2010

Wine – Dessert

1st Place

Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen, CT Midnight Ice

2nd Place

Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen, CT Pyrrha’s Passion 2008

3rd Place

Gouveia Vineyards, Wallingford, CT Epiphany Reserve

Wine – Dry Red

1st Place

Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen, CT St. Croix 2008

2nd Place

Hopkins Vineyard, New Preston, CT Cabernet Franc 2008

3rd Place

Jones Winery, Shelton, CT Cabernet Franc Vintner’s Selection 2010

Wine – Dry White

1st Place

Jones Winery, Shelton, CT Pinot Gris Vintner’s Selection 2010

2nd Place

Gouveia Vineyards, Wallingford, CT Seyval Blanc

3rd Place

Jones Winery, Shelton, CT Stonewall Chardonnay

Wine – Fruit

1st Place

Jones Winery, Shelton, CT Black Currant Bouquet

Wine – Other White

1st Place

Hopkins Vineyard, New Preston, CT Westwind 2010

2nd Place

Gouveia Vineyards, Wallingford, CT Cayuga White

3rd Place

Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen, CT Cayuga White 2010

Wine – Rosé

1st Place

Sunset Meadow Vineyards, Goshen, CT SMV Rosé

2nd Place

Gouveia Vineyards, Wallingford, CT Whirlwind Rosé

3rd Place

Jones Winery, Shelton, CT Rosé of Cabernet Franc Vintner’s Selection 2010

CSFA is a subdivision of the CT Food Association and is a non-profit organization that represents small food businesses based in the state. To learn more, visit www.ctfoodassociation.org or email ctfood@ctfoodassociation.org.

WINE to Present at Putnam County International Wine & Food Fest

The Wine Institute of New England will be presenting a Wine Appreciation and Tasting Tips class at the First Annual Putnam County International Wine & Food Fest on Sunday, August 14th, 2011. The festival will be held at Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park, Carmel, New York on August 13th from 10-7 and August 14th from 10-4. Some of New York’s finest wineries will be represented, as well as local and international retailers, food vendors, and arts & crafts vendors. For more details on this event, please go to the following website: http://www.putnamcountywinefest.com

First CT Farmer’s Market Wine Permit Issued!

In June 2011, AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE SALE OF CONNECTICUT WINE AT FARMERS’ MARKETS AND ESTABLISHING A FARMERS’ MARKET WINE PERMIT was signed into law. Keith Bishop of Bishop’s Orchards Winery, our June Connecticut Corker, was instrumental in bringing about this critical legislation. (For more about Keith’s involvement, click here: http://wineinstituteofnewengland.com/bishops-orchards/) Therefore, it seems only fitting that Bishop’s Orchards Winery is the one to obtain the very first Connecticut Farmer’s Market Wine Permit. Following is the press release with the details of this exciting milestone:

Some of Bishop's Orchards Winery's Award-Winning Wines

Wine Sales Start at Milford Farmers Market

August 2, 2011

For Immediate Release:

Toast your local Farmers Market! Buy a bottle of CT Farm Wine and raise your glass.

Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market & Winery just obtained CT Farmer’s Market Wine Permit #1 to sell wine at the Woodmont Farmer’s Market every Wednesday afternoon. Now wine can be bought direct from the 140 year old family farm at the same time you get flowers, vegetables, fish, fresh baked goods, cheese and more at the weekly Farmers Market held at the Robert Treat Farm on New Haven Ave in Milford from 3.30-6.30 every Wednesday.

Winemaker Keith Bishop, Treasurer of the CVWA’s Wine Trail worked with the CT Legislature and Farm Bureau to put Connecticut on the same footing as NY and MA that allow their Farmer’s Markets to sell wine. The Governor signed PA 11-164 on July 13 and Bishop’s permit was issued July 27.

24 Wineries make up the CT Wine Trail and are showcased at www.ctwine.com. Ct Farm Wineries typically sell direct at their farms, with few large enough to bear distribution costs to wholesale their products. Being able to sell at Farmers Markets will benefit wineries and consumers: opportunities for new customers, and less travel to repeatedly visit the winery and support local farms and keep land in viable production. Liquor regulations are still complex, and the wineries take their roles seriously for age verification and patron safety. Local regulations will prohibit some Farmers Markets from allowing Wineries to sell, as some zoning or local ordinances don’t allow alcohol on city property, such as New Haven.

Bishop’s Orchards Winery makes fruit wines and Hard Cider exclusively from fruits grown on their 313 acre farm. Apple Raspberry Blush, HAppley ImPeared, Celebration and Stone House White are among their selection of 18 wines made. Stone House White was awarded a Gold Medal at the 2011 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, and HAppley ImPeared was awarded a Gold Medal at the 2011 International Eastern Wine Competition. In all, Winemaker Keith Bishop earned 53 medals in 4, 2011 International Competitions, including 4 Silver Medals for Apple Raspberry Blush.

The 5th Annual Shoreline Wine Festival will be hosted by Bishop’s Orchards on August 13 & 14 and feature top CT Wineries, food, seminars, entertainment, tours and sales of wine by the bottle and case. Tickets and information is at shorelinewinefestival.com.

Since 1871, six generations of Bishop’s have been serving Connecticut with the best possible farm products. Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market is open all-year round and is a destination for the area’s finest food and wholesome family fun. Every season The Bishop Family offers new and traditional foods and experiences. From the large retail farm market to their Pick Your Own Fruit program June thru October to their winery that has tastings available 7 days a week, Bishop’s is the perfect destination for people of all ages. Bishop’s Orchards, 1355 Boston Post Road, Guilford, CT, 203-453-2338, www.bishopsorchards.com.

Contact:
Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market and Winery:
Keith Bishop or Sarah Dellaventura 203-453-2338
Woodmont Farmers Market:
Mary Treat (203)878-4270

The 5th Annual Shoreline Wine Festival

Bishop's and other Connecticut wines at Bishop's Orchards Farm Market & Winery

Feeling left out because you didn’t make it to the Connecticut Wine Festival? Or maybe you had such a great time there you really want some more? Well, you’re in luck. Bishop’s Orchards Winery will be hosting the The 5th Annual Shoreline Wine Festival on Saturday and Sunday, August 13th-14th at Bishop’s Orchards Farm Market and Winery, 1355 Boston Post Road, Guilford, CT. 10 of Connecticut’s finest wineries will be participating. And, if you act now, you can purchase tickets for $25 per person. That’s a $5 savings off of the door price. Hope you can make it!
For more information on the Shoreline Wine Festival, visit this site: http://shorelinewinefestival.com/

Discoveries and Rediscoveries at The Connecticut Wine Festival

It was a perfect summer day for the throngs of people who streamed into the Goshen Fair Grounds to partake in the third annual Connecticut Wine Festival this weekend. Over 8,000 attendees tread the grounds during the course of the weekend, a remarkable 50% increase from last year’s event, according to Festival Chairman, George Motel. Mr. Motel’s winery, Sunset Meadow Vineyards, was one of fourteen Connecticut wineries represented, all of which are members of the Connecticut Wine Trail. (http://ctwine.com/) Specialty food vendors, jewelers and musicians were also represented. Upon entering the grounds, friendly women clad in purple tee shirts handed out programs, wine totes and wine glasses etched with the words “Connecticut Wine Festival.” This would be the one and only glass I would use throughout the event so I made sure to baby it as I headed out on my wine quest. The wineries were set up inside two buildings, segregated by their location in the state – Eastern Connecticut and Western Connecticut. One hour into the event, and the crowds were already gathered four rows deep in front of every winery. Each winery was strictly limited to pouring only four of their wines. Most wineries opted for a combination of white and red wines, with the occasional rosé making an appearance. Water pitchers and spit buckets were at the ready. Friendly and knowledgeable people poured briskly, trying to keep pace with the eager tasters. Many of the winery owners, themselves, were pouring the wine and answering questions. If a taster found something she particularly cared for, she could opt to buy a glass of it for drinking right on the spot, or purchase a bottle to consume on the grounds or at home.

Jonathan Edwards Winery

Jamie Jones of Jones Winery

My first stop was Jonathan Edwards Winery where they offered pours of both Connecticut grown and Napa grape wines. Jones Winery brought crisp chardonnay and refreshing First Blush, a blend of apples, pears and black currants and the perfect antidote to the heat. Sunset Meadow Vineyards, always a crowd pleaser, had Sunset Blush and Cayuga White on hand. I was especially excited to visit their table after recently spending an evening at their vineyard for a beautifully put-together and well-paired farm to chef wine dinner. Other interesting finds included the Hungarian grape, bianca, and the pinot noir mutation, corot noir, at Land of Nod, a 100% riesling flavored with natural peach essence from Taylor Brooke Winery, and a lovely Alsatian-style riesling from Priam Vineyards, bottles of which were just flying out of the booth. I made sure to stop by Sharpe Hill Vineyard for a taste of

George Motel of Sunset Meadow Vineyards

Gary Crump of Priam Vineyards

their renowned Ballet of Angels, a semi-dry white that is a proprietary blend of 12-14 grapes. Most, if not all, of the wineries offered the off-dry to semi-sweet wines so popular in this state, with only the occasional truly dry wine being found. Bishop’s Orchards Winery and White Silo Farm, both fruit wine specialists, saw a steady stream of sippers.

As I navigated the lines from winery to winery, I stopped to chat with as many people as I could to find out where they had come from and what wines they were enjoying the most. All corners of the state were represented and every guest had their own wine preference – some sweeter, some drier, some fruit. Some guests seemed knowledgeable about Connecticut wineries, already professing a favorite from prior visits along the Connecticut Wine Trail, while others were discovering our state’s wineries for the very first time. One Connecticut resident out supporting local agriculture on Sunday was Governor Malloy, who made a personal appearance at the Festival and visited all 14 of the wineries. Apparently, he was so inspired by what he found that, after the Festival, he paid a visit to Sunset Meadow Vineyards for a tour, and returned to the Governor’s mansion with at least a few bottles in tow. Overall, the crowd was very young, comprising approximately 60-70% of the total guests. According to Mr. Motel, last year’s group comprised a similar makeup. I stopped to talk to two women taking a momentary hiatus from imbibing. Lynn Allen and Carrie Traverse, from Wallingford and East Haven, respectively, were visiting the Festival for the second year. And although they remarked, as many did, on the number of people present, it was clearly not an obstacle to an enjoyable time. They were especially appreciative of the appearance of the fans this year. Both women had previously been to the two wineries in Wallingford, Gouveia Vineyards and newcomer Paradise Hills Vineyard, and were hopeful to see Paradise Hills included in next year’s Festival.

Lynn Allen & Carrie Traverse

For those requiring some sustenance to get them through the afternoon, food vendors could be found both inside the

Homemade Potato Chips

buildings and elsewhere on the grounds. Lunch selections included chicken and beef on sticks, fresh potato chips, organic beef burgers and, of course, cheese platters. I noticed there was a constant crowd of people at Little Sister’s Grilled Cheese truck where one could get a variety of grilled cheese sandwiches, including goat cheese with honey, or tomato, mozzarella and basil. After bumping into winery owner, Eric Gorman, at the Blue Moon booth buying cheeseburgers for his staff, I was persuaded to head back inside to sample some rhubarb wine from his winery, White Silo Farm. I was greatly rewarded. The white rhubarb wine was delicate, slightly tart and quite pleasing.

Little Sister's Grilled Cheese Truck

Back outside, I came upon a tented section showcasing several specialty food vendors, including Ola! Granola, Cato Corner Farm and Peace Tree Desserts. I picked up a few items at each of these tables, including some heavenly Applejack Cajeta Caramel from Peace Tree. Owner, sustainable pastry chef, Robyn Eads, told me this authentic Mexican style caramel sauce was handcrafted with goat’s milk from Connecticut family farms. It was so delectable, I decided to bring home the Curry Cajeta Caramel, as well.

Robyn Eads of Peace Tree Desserts (right)

Although not a recreational activity for those shy of crowds, the Connecticut Wine Festival provides a wonderful opportunity to see and taste what Connecticut wineries are creating in a festive and friendly atmosphere, as well as sample some of Connecticut’s specialty food offerings. Will the Connecticut Vineyard & Winery Association be sponsoring a fourth Connecticut Wine Festival? Absolutely. As Mr. Motel explains, “This is a great event for (Connecticut wineries) to showcase our wines and create better awareness of the Connecticut Wine Trail.” Current plans are to keep the event at the Goshen Fair Grounds and to spread the wineries out a little more to better effectuate flow of traffic. I have no doubt that I will be heading back up to Goshen next year to participate in this fun and well-run event.

Taking a siesta under the perfect sky

Drinking Local and the Birth of a New Word

I recently became involved in Connecticut’s Farm to Chef Program, a wonderful group whose mission is to connect local culinary professionals with producers and distributors of Connecticut grown products. My involvement began as a result of my work with a few Connecticut chefs committed to producing menus based on locally grown and produced food, and our mutual interest in promoting local wineries. The following is the story of my local journey. It was published in the May CT Farm-to-Chef Newsletter.

On Becoming A Locabibe

I first heard of the Connecticut Farm to Chef program when a mutual acquaintance email-introduced me (the new rage) to Linda Piotrowicz of the Connecticut Department of Agriculture. This acquaintance thought she might be a good connection for me as I navigated the murky waters of beginning my own wine education business in Connecticut. During my course of study for the Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) examination, we had covered “other” regions, including the Northeast, but there was no mention of Connecticut wineries. A native New Yorker, I did not take the slight too personally, but it occupied a little space in the back of my mind. [Read more...]