A Guide to Wine Tasting in Connecticut

Connecticut is one of the 13 colonies and home to Yale University. The falls are effervescent with bright oranges, browns, and yellows.

A broad spectrum of attractions includes visiting the Mystic Seaport Museum and riding the ferry to Gillette Castle. The state also offers many activities, from golfing to hiking to wine tasting.

Wine tasting in Connecticut includes over 40 vineyards and wineries across the region. If you live in Connecticut or visiting for a week or weekend, try some wineries.

Common grape vines are native to Central Europe and the Mediterranean region, and hybrid grape varieties you’ll find grown in Connecticut. Well-known wine grapes in the state are Vidal, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Saint Croix and Chardonnay.

Winemakers use Vidal grapes to make sweet wines that grow in Connecticut, and locals enjoy them. You must try the sweet or semi-sweet wines while visiting the region.

Northern Connecticut is cold and snowy in the winter, with ultra-warm and humid summers. Far southern and coastal regions have cold winters with rain and periodic snowfall, including ultra-hot and humid summers.

Thanks to the extremely warm summers and accompanying humidity, it’s a challenge to grow certain grape varieties, which are prone to pests and diseases. In fact, hardy grape varieties, as mentioned above, are common and more suitable for Connecticut’s hot, humid summer climate.

Here are some wineries that best reflect Connecticut’s hospitality and excellent wine tasting.

Where to Go for Wine Tasting in Connecticut

1. Paradise Hills Vineyards

wallingford

An Italian-American family owned and run vineyard and winery, Paradise Hills Vineyards carries the tradition of old-world winemaking.

Here, you’ll find some of the best wines of Connecticut based on the Ruggiero family’s commitment to creating the finest, handcrafted wine you’ll ever taste.

You’ll appreciate the Tasting Room since it’s Tuscan-inspired with a custom-made copper bar. Along with the warm wood-burning fireplace, you’ll feel nice and cozy.

Or, in the summer, walk outside and view the picturesque vineyard where the tasting bar awaits you. With a flight, glass or bottle, find a table, sit down and relax and enjoy your wine.

The winery does not take reservations, so it’s first-come, first-serve. Bring a picnic, share with your favorite bottle of wine, and eat inside or outside with plenty of tables.

Make sure you get a flight to try some extraordinary wines. The award-winning Chardonnay has a delicate palate with notes of oak.

Try the Notte di Amore, the winery’s National acclaimed Prosecco, extra dry with zingy citrus. Founding members supervised the production of Founder’s Reserve, a concentrated wine with deep ruby color with sophisticated tannins. A silver medal winner that Tastings.com highly recommends.

It’s a Bordeaux Varietal Blend that won’t let you down. The Annual Volunteer Harvest is an exceptional event you’ll want to experience at the vineyard. It starts at 7:45 AM and ends at 1 PM with a traditional Italian lunch.

2. Hawk Ridge Winery

wallingford paradise hills

In Watertown, Hawk Ridge Winery is a family-operated and working farm tucked away from the hustle and bustle as a peaceful farm setting.

Fifty-eight acres of rich land surround the winery, designating four acres for grapevines. The remaining acres are for farm animals, beehives, crops, and hay.

Come by and take in the expansive grounds and farm setting, providing a calming atmosphere for you to unwind. The Tasting Room offers an eye-catching walnut oak bar filled with comfy seating, including cozy couches. All make your visit relaxing with an excellent glass of wine.

Tastings are by the flight, glass, or bottle, and you can order food, from gourmet cheese and jams to salads and pizza.

Sip their Momma Hawk, a Chardonnay with toasted hazelnuts and vanilla notes, finishing with fresh apple. The Riesling is refreshing, with notes of orange blossoms and sweet apricots, finishing with toasted almonds.

For red wine, the Trooper’s Red Barrel Select will do, with fruit and berry notes, including raspberry, plums, and Bing cherry. Or you can have their wine slushie of the month as a refreshing change to the hot summer months.

Open seven days a week, starting at noon, and weekends usually include live music events. Other weekdays have special occasions, like Paint and Sip, Teacher Appreciation Week, and Charcuterie Making Class.

3. Hopkins Vineyard

Resting in the stunning hills of Lichfield County with majestic views of Lake Waramaug is the Hopkins Vineyard, a National Bicentennial Farm. Rich with history, the farm started in 1787, growing tobacco and then becoming a dairy farm.

Today, the 225-year-old and family-owned farm is one of the first vineyards in Connecticut. The winery has produced award-winning reds, whites and sparkling wines, growing 11 varieties of grapes.

Stop by the historic wine bar inside the Hopkins hayloft, an eye-catching 19th-century barn offering a peaceful and casual atmosphere.

Try their award-winning wines by the flight, glass, or bottle, complemented with cheeses and pates served with fresh, warm bread.

If you’ve never tried ice wine, now’s your time. 2019 Ice Wine is sweet, refreshing with a honeyed nose and notes of ripe peach and apricot.

Or stick with something dry with a Chardonnay or Vineyard Reserve 2020. The Reserve comes from estate-grown Seyval Blanc and Traminette grapes. It’s crisp, dry, and clean with a pleasant fruit finish.

Try the Cabernet Franc 2020 Estate bottled, hearty dry red with mature berry, spice, and dried fig flavors.

Hopkins Vineyard hosts live music events every weekend and offer its property for weddings, bridal showers or life’s milestones.

The hours vary by the season, with May through October open seven days, November and December only open on weekends, and January through April open Wednesdays through Sundays.

4. Jonathan Edwards Winery

pouring wine into wine glass

Stop by Jonathan Edwards Winery about an hour before sunset, sipping wine and appreciating the spectacular ending of daylight with a gorgeous twilight.

Neatly manicured lawns and vivid flowers with lush bushes and trees surround the property. That way, you can unwind and relish the moment.

The Tasting Room has a modern appeal accompanied by an inviting patio and barrel room, where guests rent for weddings and other events.

For significant events, like 200 guests, the winery hoists tents, offering private access to the barrel room, patio, tasting room, and back deck.

Open seven days a week, visit the Tasting Room, where you can enjoy sipping some wine, have a glass, or open a bottle.

Try the 2020 Estate Pinot Gris for a refreshing and bright wine featuring aromas of lemon, fresh apple, and pear. 2020 Primitivo Rose with soft floral, strawberry aromas captures your attention, including its beautiful salmon hue.

The winery also uses grapes from California, making a Merlot that sells out, with dark cherry, plum, and mocha flavors. Same with the 2018 Lodi Cabernet Sauvignon for smooth and relaxed drinking, adding a nice gripped finish.

Tours of the vineyard and winery are on the weekends. No appointment is necessary.

5. Aquila’s Nest and Vineyards

wine barrels

Connecticut is such a beautiful state, and Aquila’s Nest Vineyards represents its beauty so well. The grounds and buildings are breathtakingly gorgeous.

A popular winery in the state, it has a remarkable portfolio of wines. It begins with the 10-acre vineyard with lots of indoor and outdoor space for you to sit and unwind.

They produce some worthwhile wines for eight varieties of grapes, including Chambourcin, Riesling, Marquette, Riesling, Baco Noir, and Cabernet Franc.

You can buy wine by flight, glass, or bottle in the Tasting Room. Even enjoy nuts, cheese, chocolate, and crackers. Some visitors bring their own blankets, lawn chairs, and picnics to appreciate the outside and stunning views.

Each wine is phenomenal, especially the Princess of Troy, a Merlot that’s rich and holds with aromas of black cherries, blackberries, and plums. Or sip Sibyl, a dry Sangiovese Rose with a sophisticated finish, including notes of strawberries, orange blossoms, and cherries.

Open Wednesdays from 6 PM to 9 PM, Thursdays and Fridays from 1 PM to 9 PM, Saturdays from 11:30 AM to 9 PM, and Sundays from 11:30 AM to 8 PM.

The winery hosts private events, like weddings, corporate events, and more.

6. Brignole Vineyards

Nestled in the heart of East Granby, Brignole Vineyards rests near the town covering 15 acres as a family-owned business. With the focus on crafting wines that reflect the regional charm, you’ll appreciate the hand-crafted wines.

Sip wine and marvel over the spacious grounds and lovely tasting room. Sit outside with your glass in hand, relaxing and admiring the views and vineyards.

The Tasting Room hosts many in-house events, from Trivia Night to food trucks to music.

Open daily with Mondays through Fridays, from 1 PM to 7 PM, Saturdays from 12 PM to 7 PM, and Sundays from 12 PM to 6 PM, you can try some of their award-winning wines. They also offer wine slushies during summer, including a wide selection of sangrias.

For a more traditional wine, let your palate savor one of the Barrel Reserves, such as Cabernet Sauvignon aged in French barrel heads and American Oak barrels. You’ll taste notes of black plum, currant and cherry. It’s smooth with tannins that are round and refined.

Pinot Noir has aromas of strawberries and raspberries with dry tannins. An explosion arrives as a bomb of raspberries and strawberries, with a silky-smooth finish.

Further Reading

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