At ShelaLara Vineyards & Winery, vintners work with modern equipment to produce more than 20 different wines. Using grapes and fruit imported from California and other sun-soaked regions, the enophiles fill tanks with sweet elixirs including their in-house specialty wine slush. The glacier wines, fruit essences, and vintage wines run a colorful gamut from the off purple of the sky just after sunset to the hue of warm honey. ShelaLara’s winemaking process, including fermentation, bottling, and 21-gun salutes following spills, all takes place in Rhode Island.
At City Steam Brewery Cafe, the owners concoct some of the area’s finest beers, scoring “best of” awards from Hartford magazine and Connecticut Magazine. They also brew potent batches of laughter inside their 200-seat comedy show-room theater. Ensconced in the historic Brown Thomson and Co. building, which was the state’s largest department store in 1877, Brew Ha Ha once was known as the Last Laugh Comedy Club, where fledgling unknowns such as Ray Romano and Kevin James vied for laughs in the smoky rathskeller of a restaurant.
Reborn in 1997 under a new moniker, the standup speakeasy keeps its calendar packed with nationally touring comics and local joke slingers. During shows, guests can toast with mugs of handcrafted beer and make edible sculptures of their favorite comedian using menu’s custom burgers, pizzas, and omelets.
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.
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.
As the sun rises and falls on the Connecticut River Valley, its rays streak across the trellised vineyards of Arrigoni Winery. The winery creates a variety of crisp whites and luscious reds, both characterized by their soft, approachable fruit flavors. In addition to these traditional offerings, the vintner also makes wines blended from orchard-fresh apples, tart cranberries, and even maple syrup. After enjoying a glass of wine on the scenic outdoor patio, visitors are encouraged to peruse the onsite gift shop’s collection of Yankee Candles, wine-themed presents, and baby photos of budding grape clusters.
Specializing in the art of chardonnay, Chamard cultivates varietal grapes on 20 acres of gently rolling vineyards, unleashing an assortment of palate-pleasing wines. Bring a guest and relish the ambrosial aromas and mouth-uplifting flavors of chardonnay, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, merlot, and cabernet franc blends created with time-honored winemaking methods and state-of-the-art graping equipment. Grasp a Riedel glass and try five wines while overlooking the pond on the deck, warming up by the tasting room's fire, or hiding in one of the cellar's wine barrels. After sampling fermented grape serums, customers can activate the power of a 15% discount to purchase a bottle of wine ($12.99–$24.99) for enjoying at home or christening a new caravel.