The Connecticut Wine Festival

Wine Institute of New England

presents

A Free Wine Tasting & Seminar

at

The Connecticut Wine Festival

at

The Goshen Fairgrounds

Saturday, July 22, 2017

at 2:00 pm

Sixth Annual Connecticut Wine Festival

Wine Institute of New England 

to present free wine appreciation seminar

at

The 6th Annual Connecticut Wine Festival

Goshen Fairgrounds

Saturday and Sunday, July 26th & 27th

Hands Holding Wine

"Have A Grape Day"

The Connecticut Wine Festival will be returning for a sixth year of showcasing Connecticut’s wines, a reflection on the growing popularity of our local wines. 

“From international gold medals to ‘people’s choice’ and ‘Best in Show’ awards, Connecticut wines continue to win fans and impress connoisseurs from around the world,” said George Motel, Festival Chairman and owner of Sunset Meadow Vineyards.  “The Connecticut Wine Festival is a true showcase for introducing wine lovers to much of our state’s home-grown offerings.  We look forward to another record year, and the opportunity to prove that our wines are truly the ‘hidden gems’ of the industry, as The Wall Street Journals calls them.”

The Festival will be staged again at the Goshen Fairgrounds in Litchfield County. Sponsored by the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association (CVWA) and presented by the CT Wine Trail, the Festival features fine wines from a wide variety of local vintners, making it one of the “must attend” events of the summer.  The Festival also features wine classes, specialty food vendors, artisanal crafts, and a variety of live musical entertainment.

Renée Allen, Director of the Wine Institute of New England, will be conducting a free wine appreciation seminar at this year's Festival.  Renée, a Certified Specialist of Wine, will cover wine tasting techniques and varietal information, and will debunk some common wine myths.

The specialty food vendors are primarily members of the Connecticut Specialty Food Association, an association that is part of the Connecticut Food Association. They feature local foods made in Connecticut.  Adams Hometown Market, a Platinum Sponsor of the Festival, will also sell advance tickets at its stores throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Daily admission to the CT Wine Festival is $25 in advance, available through July 20th at any participating CVWA winery, online, or by phone, and $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 for the Festival are 12:00 Noon to 7:00 PM, Saturday, July 26; and 12:00 Noon to 6:00 PM Sunday, July 27.  More information and a complete list of participating wineries can be found at www.ctwine.com.

Festival proceeds are used to promote the CVWA Wine Trail and the Connecticut wine industry.  The CT Wine Trail, a state approved winery and vineyard awareness program, features trails that wind their ways through some of the most scenic and historic regions of Connecticut.

“The Connecticut Wine Festival is a great place to come and enjoy the day, taste some local wines, some great food and relax,” said Sherrie Palmer, the festival director. “Cases of wine will also be available at a discount, so guests can easily make back the price of admission in great savings. What more can you ask for?”

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.

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

 

Sunset Meadow Vineyards ~ Born of a Vision

Although Sunset Meadow Vineyards has a long list of numerous awards for outstanding wines produced in the scenic Litchfield Hills of the Western Connecticut Highlands, it is one of their most recent accolades in which owner and winemaker George Motel III takes the greatest pride. Yankee Magazine’s Travel Guide to New England named Sunset Meadow Vineyards New England’s Best Family Winery in 2010 after only having been open for two years. Mr. Motel attributes this honor to the efforts of his staff. Respected by both his employees and his peers, our August Connecticut Corker George Motel plays a prominent role in the Connecticut farm winery industry by virtue of both his wine and his wisdom.

George Motel III of Sunset Meadow Vineyards

George Motel is more than a winemaker or a vineyard owner. He is more than a businessman. George Motel is a visionary. One of his visions materialized in 1995 when he serendipitously drove by the property in Goshen that is now home to Sunset Meadow Vineyards. The vision? Running a farm. Although firmly entrenched in a corporate lifestyle, Motel was not a total stranger to farming, having had a friend with a dairy farm as a child growing up in Seymour, Connecticut. The beautiful piece of property that caught his attention had been a dairy farm in the 1970s. And so Mr. Motel worked his day job and then worked the land at night and on weekends raising beef cattle and providing hay to dairy and horse farmers. It was Grace Nome, President of the Connecticut Specialty Food Association for 26 years, who initially put the bug in Mr. Motel’s ear about growing grapes on his property. Motel was intrigued but not convinced. The very night of Ms. Nome’s prescient suggestion, Mr. Motel returned home from a hard day of corporate work to find a bull in the middle of his driveway. The cattle had broken out and were scattered around the property. Clad in his business suit, Motel spent the evening trying to lure the escaped herd with a pail of grain and a special cattle call in an attempt to restore order. Bovine intervention. It was time for a change.

Sun Dappled Cayuga Vines

Motel enlisted the help of Dr. Richard Kiyomoto, member of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and well-known advisor to Connecticut grape growers. Dr. Kiyomoto advised Motel to test his site with vines. In 2001, the first grape, cabernet franc, was planted at Sunset Meadow Vineyards (SMV), with chardonnay following closely behind. Motel planted 1,400 vines that first year, choosing seyval blanc, Cayuga and St. Croix, in addition to the chardonnay and cabernet franc. These were followed the next year by another 1,300 vines, vidal blanc, chambourcin, lemberger, riesling, and more chardonnay and cabernet franc. Year three saw the addition of Frontenac, landot and merlot, as well as even more chardonnay and cabernet franc into the sandy loam soil. People were beginning to take notice. An active member of his community through his volunteer basketball coaching, Motel was known around town to the other parents. One year at a New Year’s Eve party, a woman spotted him across the room and sought him out to ask him a question. “Are you the guy planting all those grapes?” she queried. Motel affirmed he was indeed that guy. “Nothing but hay grows in Goshen!” she insisted. 30 acres and 14,000 grape vines later, Motel begs to differ. He still owns more acres that he wants to plant and, with an eye toward the future, he has leased additional acreage nearby. It has gotten to the point where local farmers are approaching him with offers to lease their land.

The transition from cattle to grapes has been a successful one for Motel. A longtime lover of wine, Motel is a big believer in the health benefits associated with drinking it. The merging of his passions for both farming and wine has been a dream come true for him. Having early on determined that the quality of the wine could best be controlled by making the wine himself, Motel enrolled in the UC Davis Enology program. George, his wife Judy and son George IV do everything from growing and harvesting to bottling and selling. “I want to control the whole process.” George explains. “I want to know what’s in the wine.” What is in the wine are Motel’s own estate grown grapes, for the most part. It is Motel’s goal for his wine to comprise 100% estate grown grapes in two years, and he is very close to that goal now. In addition to controlling the process, Motel derives another benefit from doing the winemaking himself. A former musician, Motel views the winery as an opportunity to express himself. “The winemaking aspect of this business allows for some creative expression, expression you don’t get in the business world or in other aspects of the wine business.” As part of creating a healthy environment in which to grow his grapes, sustainable farming methods are utilized and surrounding natural wildlife encouraged. The property is home to many birds including hawks, eagles, bats and owls for which the Motels maintain nesting boxes. No pesticides are used on the vines. If necessary, Japanese Beetles, the only real insect pests in the vineyard, are hand removed. Motel allows the vine canopy to grow higher than he might otherwise because the beetles eat from the top down. He has determined that this is an acceptable sacrifice. Herbicides are used in only the rarest of circumstances and when they are, it is usually a home grade Roundup. Mr. Motel keeps a close personal eye on what transpires on his property. On any given evening or weekend, Motel might be found either walking the vineyards with rescue dog Churchill by his side, or traversing the many acres of grapes on his ATV.

SMV's Vineyard Dog, Churchill

Motel’s commitment to exceptional quality is carried over from the fields to the winery where he employs such methods as racking instead of fining to slowly precipitate out the unwanted solids in the wine. Racking, George believes, better maintains the integrity of the wine. This integrity is preserved by the finest quality cork closures, while also allowing the consumer the traditional uncorking experience. The building that houses the fermentation tanks, barrels and bottling equipment has no air conditioning but is designed to stay cold all year long by use of a louver system. Hot water is instantaneous, heated only when needed, which is both energy efficient and responsible to the environment.

As a visionary, Motel has a keen eye for the bigger picture. He knows that, although the quality of his wines is paramount, there is more required to run his business successfully. The Motels make hospitality and the consumer’s overall experience at their winery priorities. Opened for business in 2008, the spacious tasting room with indoor and outdoor seating, wine-related gifts and friendly staff members enhance visitors’ experiences. The Motels’ attention to detail and customer satisfaction is clearly paying off. 95% of SMV’s total wine sales is attributable to tasting room traffic. In another effort to increase wine sales while facilitating customer convenience, Motel has just added an online shopping cart allowing customers to purchase wine directly from the SMV website. With 13 wines from which to choose, it may be hard settling on just one. I asked Motel which wine is his favorite. “I make all of our wines as if they’re my favorite. Having said that, my passion has always been dry red wine so I guess I enjoy our dry reds the most.”


Farm-to-table wine dinners provide another way of introducing consumers to SMV wines. I recently had the opportunity of participating in the “Sunset in July” Farm to Table Wine Dinner at Sunset Meadow Vineyards which included SMV wine paired with food prepared by the Litchfield Saltwater Grille, as well as a tour of the winery. A bout of uncooperative weather forced the festivities indoors. Luckily, SMV is equipped to house an event of this nature inside their tasting room. The long, family style banquet tables used for outdoor gatherings were abandoned in favor of more intimate seating indoors, with only one elongated table set up for a large party that had arrived together. Conversation was possible between neighboring tables and guests had ample opportunity to mingle at both the raw bar and the tasting bar. The food was sourced from local, sustainable and organic farms and each course was specially paired with SMV wine. The pairings were all successful but the two that stood out for me were the SMV Riesling paired with miniature New England lobster salad rolls, and Cayuga White mated with Connecticut oysters. (More detailed wine tasting notes follow this article.) One of the highlights of the evening was a tour of the winery led by Mr. Motel. Not only were guests allowed a peek into the inner workings of SMV complete with informative and entertaining narration by Mr. Motel, we were treated to a taste of SMV Twisted Red, a cabernet sauvignon blend, straight from the barrel.

[Mr. Motel has consented to WINE publishing video footage of the winery tour conducted inside Sunset Meadow Vineyards the evening of the “Sunset in July” wine dinner. WINE would like to thank Mr. Motel for allowing its readership this exclusive opportunity to gain insight into the workings of a first rate farm winery in a more personal and animated way. The footage is presented below in two parts.]
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When he is not pruning vines or bottling wines, Mr. Motel spends time in his official capacity as Vice President of the Connecticut Vineyard & Winery Association working to further the interests of the Connecticut farm wine industry as a whole. This includes keeping a watchful eye on the industry, working on beneficial legislation, and doing marketing and promotional events. Motel was involved in the recent passage of the legislation authorizing the sale of Connecticut wines at farmers’ markets and he is working to get legislation passed that would allow Connecticut farm wineries a second festival each year. They are currently limited to just one, The Connecticut Wine Festival. Mr. Motel is Chairman of this Festival, an annual event promoting The Connecticut Wine Trail that saw more than 8,000 participants over the course of the last weekend in July this year.

So what is George Motel’s vision for the future? Organic grape growing, for one thing. Practically unheard of in Connecticut due to the challenging climate, Motel has targeted a block of his St. Croix grapes to grow organically. One year into the project, things appear to be going well. “We are encouraged by the early progress and results but remain cautiously optimistic,” reports Motel. What else is in SMV’s future? He’s not ready to reveal all just yet. But George Motel has a way of making his visions come true. I suggest we keep watching.

Sunset Meadow Vineyards Tasting Room

Sunset Meadow Vineyards is open Sunday, Monday & Thursday from 11-5 and Friday & Saturday from 11-6.
599 Old Middle Street, Goshen, CT 06756
860-201-4654

Wines to Uncork

Cayuga White 2010 – Exceptionally crisp and thirst-quenching, this dry expression of the Cayuga grape is acidic and well-balanced with the perfect hint of citrus and stone fruits.
Merlot – Soft and unassuming, this Bordeaux style merlot flaunts red berries with undercurrents of anise and a velvety smooth finish.
St. Croix – Smokey, sexy, dry and quite quaffable. I have yet to find a St. Croix I prefer more.
Twisted Red – A dry, big-bodied blend in the style of Bordeaux with dark red fruit flavors and a touch of spice.
Rosé – An elegant rosé in the style of Provence, luscious red fruits just barely peek through this delightfully dry salmon-pink beauty.
Pyrrha’s Passion – This beautifully bottled wine is a sweeter expression of the St. Croix grape perfect for accompanying desserts. Slightly nutty and hinting of caramel, the wine’s complexity is reminiscent of port.
Midnight Ice – This intoxicatingly aromatic ice wine boasts bold fruit aromas and flavors, especially honeydew melon and lychee. It has a honey-like viscosity on the tongue and is richly layered. Limited.

The 5th Annual Shoreline Wine Festival

Although driving rain may have discouraged some visitors from coming out to the 5th Annual Shoreline Wine Festival last Sunday, the Festival started off on Saturday, August 13, with blue skies and just a hint of autumn in the air. Upon entering the field at Bishop’s Orchards, host of the Festival, I was given a wine glass, a bracelet and a tasting ticket. The ticket listed the participating wineries and I was instructed to present it to each one I visited so that they could punch a hole next to their name. Guests were supposed to be limited to one visit per winery however, due to the absence of Jerram Winery, attendees were allowed two bonus visits to wineries of their choosing. Wineries were limited to serving five wines, with some opting to pour only four.

The wineries, vendors, and events were thoughtfully organized for easy traffic flow and accessibility. Two tents housed the wineries and most of the vendors, which included retailers, food vendors and charitable organizations. In honor of the day’s host, I began my tasting tour at Bishop’s Orchards Winery where a friendly staff member happily engaged in conversation about the wines being poured. Feeling comfortable and unhurried, a couple of fellow guests and I chatted amicably as we sipped through the samples. Bishop’s was pouring 5 wines, including one of my favorites, their Hard Cider. Made from their own apple cider, this wine has a delightful mild effervescence to it that just tickles my tongue. Mike and Mimi of Branford, Connecticut, my companions at the booth, were visiting the Festival for the second time since its inception. I convinced a skeptical Mike to try the Sachem’s Twilight, a sparkling wine made from Bishop’s own peaches. In addition to the misconception that fruit wines must be cloyingly sweet, I find that men are particularly resistant to trying wines that they perceive as just too pretty. My persistence was rewarded, somewhat. Mike agreed he enjoyed the bubbly beauty more than he had anticipated. Mimi and I, on the other hand, delighted in every last sip. (For more on Bishop’s Orchards Winery, visit http://wineinstituteofnewengland.com/bishops-orchards/)

Mike & Mimi of Branford, CT

It is no secret that I enjoy the wines of Sunset Meadow Vineyards (SMV) and my experience at the Festival was no

Happy Tasters at Sunset Meadow Vineyards

exception. Their Cayuga White has been one of my favorite “go to” wines this summer with just the right balance of fruit and acid. Crisp, thirst-quenching and citrusy with a hint of stone fruits, it pairs well with light summer fare, seafood and poultry, or can be enjoyed on its own. The SMV Merlot was tasting very well with notes of cherries, a hint of anise on the midpalate and a soft, elegant finish. I was happy to see that SMV had brought out one of their big boys, Twisted Red, an award-winning blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, lemberger and chambourcin. White Silo Farm & Winery presented a nice selection of wines made from their organically grown fruits such as rhubarb and blackberry. The Upland Pastures White, which is currently made with Cayuga grapes from the Finger Lakes, will be made with White Silo’s own Cayuga grapes next year as they become ready to harvest. Jones Winery had several favorites on hand including Strawberry Serenade and Woodlands White, but I was especially excited to try their limited production Rosé of Cabernet Franc made with 100% estate grown grapes. I experienced a delicate and dry wine with the essence of cherries. A young woman behind the table dispensed pairing advice while I enjoyed a taste of Ripton Red. Her advice for this wine? “Anything with tomatoes.” (For more on Jones Winery, visit http://wineinstituteofnewengland.com/jones-winery)

Hopkins Vineyard

Chamard Vineyards was on site serving chardonnays and merlots, contrasting their estate wines with those made from grapes from Long Island and Suisun Valley, California. And although I enjoyed all four wines, what caught my attention was an offering on their full wine list that was not at the Festival – a 2002 Estate Reserve Pinot Noir. My interest was further piqued upon hearing about another new offering – a pinot noir and chardonnay sparkling wine produced in the traditional champagne method. It looks like I will be taking a trip to Chamard in the very near future. Whereas Chamard was pouring grapes from both coasts, Jonathan Edwards Winery was showcasing California. Sauvignon blance from Napa, merlot from Calistoga, pinot grigio from Russian River Valley. The Stone Table Red had a wonderful nose of dark red fruits and the wonderful spicy notes expected from petite syrah, which accounts for 25% of this cabernet sauvignon blend. The wines from DiGrazia Vineyards offered up tastes of honey, apples, raspberries and pumpkin pie. Yankee Frost, a white wine made with vignoles, was complexly layered with honey, apples, cider spices and floral notes. Hopkins Vineyard made a strong showing with the very popular Westwind, a semi-sweet wine made from Cayuga white grapes, as well as a very earthy cabernet franc with a distinct ashiness. Sachem’s Picnic, a blend of French hybrid grapes perfect for cold weather climates, provided a lovely low tannin semi-sweet red perfect for summer meals.


Having successfully completed the entire wine circuit, it was time to find something for lunch. There were several food vendors at the ready, including a barbeque truck and Guilford’s own Naples Pizza. Off to one side of the field, I was pleased to spot Little Sister’s Grilled Cheese truck. I had seen them for the first time at The Connecticut Wine Festival in Goshen last month (The Connecticut Wine Festival), but the throngs of people kept me

The Gang from Little Sister's Grilled Cheese Truck

from getting a taste. Seizing an opportunity to approach, I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich made with honey and goat cheese dubbed the “Honey Bear.” It was delicious. As I made my way back to the parking lot, I came upon a tent set up with several rows of chairs facing a table in anticipation of an introductory wine tasting class. In the barn, Bishop’s employees were selling bottles of the wines being offered at the Festival. As I approached my car, I spied a group of people following another Bishop’s employee into a building for a tour of the winery. All in all, the 5th Annual Shoreline Festival provided an excellent opportunity for wine drinkers to experience some of what Connecticut has to offer in a very enjoyable atmosphere.

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