The friendly enophiles at Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard take an interactive approach to wine education, guiding visitors through the ins and outs of the vintner process and offering sips of rich estate wines crafted onsite. Sojourners can venture to the winery to tipple glasses of chardonnay and merlot inside a rustic tasting room situated in a barn built in the early 1900s, or extend their stays with an annual membership to the vineyard?s unique Vine to Wine program. During the course of the year, program members take a hand in every part of the winemaking process, raising grapes from infancy before crushing and pressing them into adulthood at the vineyard?s custom-winemaker center.
The scenic North Fork vineyard is also home to Sannino's bed-and-breakfast, a single Tuscan-style suite that overlooks rows of growing vines and houses numerous amenities including a marble bathtub, 42-inch flat-screen TV, king-size bed, and spacious private living quarters. Complimentary beach passes and tasting tours await overnight guests, as does a full breakfast every morning. Remote wine-lovers can also peruse Sannino's wares online as they envision themselves traversing the verdant property and testing each bottle?s bouquet by closing their eyes and sniffing their computer monitor deeply.
With two locations and 140 acres of picturesque land, Duck Walk Vineyard remains a popular presence on the Long Island Wine Trail, having been voted in 2013 as one of the top wineries in Long Island by "Best of Long Island". Tastings of the winery's many vintages, including reds, whites, ice wines, and fruity dessert wines, draw crowds of visitors to both of Duck Walk's spacious facilities, where live music dramatically shatters listeners' emptied glasses. The festive atmosphere here also makes it a prime setting for weddings, rehearsal dinners, and other private events.
For more than 90 years, the same soft morning sunlight has poured over the fields of yellow sunflowers, tasseled stalks of sweet corn, and rows of grapevines growing at Rosedale Farms & Vineyards. In that span of time, five generations of Rosedales have tended to the farm’s fresh vegetables, fruits, and flowers, sharing them with the Simsbury community and even earning a nod in the Washington Post. It wasn’t until 2005, however, that the family produced its first vintage from its 4-acre vineyard of French hybrid grapes. Since then, the winery’s estate-grown vintages have earned several awards, including a double gold at the 2010 Vineyard & Winery International Eastern Wine Competition. Today, at the winery’s onsite bar, staff members pour samples of varieties such as the Simsbury Celebration, which distinguishes itself with a creamy structure, mineral overtones, and a penchant for hiding beneath lampshades. Additional events include fall farm fests that include free hayrides and corn mazes. Partnering with the Max Restaurant Group, Rosedale Farms & Vineyards also features chef-to-farm dinners, during which chefs prepare four- to six-course banquets using ingredients plucked straight from the fields.
Since opening in 1975, Haight-Brown Vineyard has churned out 2,000 cases of grape-based libations each year from its nearly 10-acre vineyard and welcomed visitors into its rustic, cottage-like wine house. Emphasizing vinifera and French hybrid grapes, the state’s first-established winery creates a selection of wines that include the Big Red, a bold syrah; the Morning Harvest, a rich malbec; and Honey Nut Apple, a traditional apple wine that incorporates local honey and cinnamon. Vintners share their time-tested expertise during regular classes that teach aspiring oenophiles about a variety of vintages and techniques for cheese and chocolate pairing. Amid the tasting room’s wood accents and crackling stone fireplace, customers sample vintages and attempt to describe taste sensations with adjectives such as “silky” or “very different from milk.”
Ballou’s Wine Bar revolves around three prized delicacies: chocolate, wine, and coffee. From those staples, dozens of indulgent dishes ensue, including chocolate, Nutella, and peanut-butter-chocolate fondues and homemade truffles developed by Debbie, half of the husband-and-wife team that runs Ballou’s. Her chocolate fondue and homemade truffles are so deliciously decadent that they’ve earned the wine bar a spot on the Best of New Haven Reader’s Poll list for best desserts. In addition to rich desserts and froth-capped cups of cappuccino, guests can order wines from local and international vineyards, as well as a wide selection of pastas, sandwiches, and flat breads.
Named for a small archipelago off the Branford coast, Thimble Island Brewing Company began with the home-brewed concoctions of Connecticut Natives Justin Gargano and Mike Fawcett. Though they lacked formal training, the duo tirelessly spent nights and weekends tinkering with their recipes until they sold their first pint of American Ale to KC's Pub in Guilford. Today, American Ale is one of the brewery's three mainstay beers, which Justin and Mike craft along with specialty batches such as a dark pumpkin porter. The twosome keeps four beers on tap at Thimble Island's tasting room, where visitors can drop in to fill up a growler, buy a t-shirt, or take a tour. Outside the brewery, Justin and Mike's beers grace many local establishments, including pubs and grocery stores.