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.
While many brothers grow up as rivals, Paul and John Nunes instead became partners. With a love of wines and wide-open spaces, the two siblings decided to establish a winery rather than surrender 60 acres of family farmland to real estate developers. Today, their labor of love, Newport Vineyards, extracts an impressive roster of reds and whites from the trellises that crisscross the farm, spilling emerald floods of vines. The vineyard team nurtures the grape-heavy plants and keeps them from being recruited by gangs of raisins. The fruit eventually becomes wines such as the In The Buff chardonnay, which is fermented in stainless steel tanks to draw out a bouquet of aromas. The Gemini, one of John Nunes's favorite bottles, is a smooth blend of merlot and cabernet.
Most of the wines spend stints in French-oak barrels, which John points out as he leads tour groups across the grounds. At the rough-hewn wooden tables in the tasting room, glasses click together as the vineyard's staff shares anecdotes about each bottle's origins, aromas, and ideal food pairing. Newport Vineyards also carries a variety of holiday gifts, such as wine, wine accessories, and custom labels.
Thames River Greenery unites the fineries of several artisans in the New London community to festoon patrons' lines of vision with an intricate blend of floral arrangements and gifts. Brighten rooms and nourish pet honeybees with floral bouquets such as the spring oasis ($50+), which brings together tulips, hot-pink spray roses, purple mokara orchids, and seafoam statice in a glass cylinder vase. Boxed chocolates ($9.99+) and stuffed animals($9.99+) can be added to arrangements to provide flowers with comfort and sustenance during car rides to their new homes. In addition to plush and prismatic gifts, Thames River carries its own line of wine and spirits ($10+) as well as an array of imported cheeses ($8+). To complement meals with new and interesting flavors, customers can take home a tote of Stonewall Kitchen specialty sauces ($29.95+), including wasabi-ginger sauce, coffee-caramel sauce, and sun-dried tomato-and-olive relish.
Soft breezes skip off the shores of Amos Lake, rustling through trees and across the grassy acreage that surrounds Dalice Elizabeth Winery, where second-, third-, and fourth-generation Italian Americans share the secrets of their polished craft. Having dispersed its all-natural specialty foods and wines internationally, the winery's founding family continually impresses the palates of casual indulgers and contest judges alike, churning out grape-to-bottle chardonnays, merlots, and sauvignons that cannot be found on the shelves of local stores. In addition to tastings, the winery hosts winemaking and cooking classes, during which glasses clink between aspiring chefs and vintners as they learn to entertain houseguests or polite burglars with style and ease.
With a rich backstory and 15 years in the brew business, Cottrell Brewing Co. opens its brewery doors for free tours and tastings of its award-winning libations. Tours are available every half-hour on Friday’s from 3–6 p.m. and Saturdays from 1–5 p.m. Show respect for the flagship Old Yankee Ale, awarded an A+ by the founders of Beer Advocate for its citrus hop aroma and social skills around burgers and french fries. The brewery's merchandise includes the logoed pint glass ($5), a T-shirt ($15), and a sweatshirt ($25) perfect for soaking up any beer missed by the mouth. Cottrell Brewing Co. inhabits 9,000 square feet of a factory once owned by the brewmaster's great-great-grandfather, who ran a highly successful printing press and sub–4-minute mile.
A crack rings out from the jousting arena as armored knights clash in the pursuit of honor, while sword-swallowers thrill crowds with their death-defying art, jesters spin windy jokes, and townspeople in 15th-century garb roam the grounds tearing into turkey legs with their teeth. The Connecticut Renaissance Faire hosts these medieval-theme blowouts every year, including the Robin Hood Spring Festival and King Arthur’s Fall Harvest Faire. Under the themed umbrella of each gathering, actors caper about a constructed medieval village, engaging in Old English–flavored conversation and clapping games with fair-goers. In a tented marketplace, vendors sell beaded crafts, art, and tyrannical-king repellent alongside stands serving mead, beer, and other satisfying sundries. Although the shows and events vary at each fair, past spectacles have included archery displays, pub sing-alongs, and costume parades.