Located in the quaint town of Wallingford, Connecticut, The Crush Club gives visitors the opportunity to make their own wine. Grapes are sourced from across the globe?from Chile during the spring and from California, Washington, and Italy during the fall. Over the course of a year, students crush and press grapes, clean their barrels, then bottle, cork, and custom label the resulting wine before taking it home with them. During blending experience classes, participants taste five different wines, learn about the winemaking process, and experiment to create their own blend, custom labeling and bringing home one 750mL bottle.
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.?
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.
As a boy, Manny Miranda participated in father-son bonding activities that were a lot cooler than catch. He worked alongside his father and grandfather at their family's winery in Portugal, where he busied himself each Autumn crushing and pressing the grapes, then preparing and casking the juices that would transform into wine.
As an adult, he hoped to recreate the verdant hills of Portugal in the states. That dream led to Miranda Vineyard, where Manny worked with his own sons to perfect the old-world techniques he remembered from his childhood. The vineyard is now the birthplace of hand-crafted and complex wines, from the bright, summery ros? to the lush, full-bodied farmhouse wine. What's more, every single varietal in the Miranda Vineyard family boasts at least one award, and many can lay claim to three or more.
Sharpe Hill Vineyard may sit in the sleepy town of Pomfret, but that hasn't done anything to diminish the winery's international profile. Its wines have racked up more than 250 medals over the years, and with good reason. The Ballet of Angels vintage alone has won 15 awards; critics far and wide have spoken highly of the semi-dry white's citrusy blend with notes of peach, pear, and grapefruit.
But that's just one of the vintages crafted by winemaster Howard Burnsen, who draws on 25 years of experience to create an eclectic variety of wines. The rich Cabernet Franc, for instance, pairs nicely with chocolate desserts and chocolate-covered vegetables, while the St. Croix, a dry red, pairs best with beef and lamb. Try out any of these pairings at the winery's own Fireside Tavern restaurant.