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.?
As the aroma of fresh baked cookies, pies, and cakes wafts through the air at Hannah’s Catering & Bakery, one might wonder where the eponymous baker is. However, the person responsible for the appetizing scent is not Hannah, but rather Margaret Jacobs—Hannah’s great-granddaughter. Surrounded by her great-grandmother's Irish cooking, Margaret learned the ins and outs of the kitchen at a young age—including how to avoid getting locked in the fridge—and developed a deep passion for cooking, a passion she later transformed into a career. In 1989, the Culinary Institute of America grad opened up her own shop in Torrington, naming it in honor of her biggest motivator, Hannah. There, she churned out decadent baked goods for two decades before moving her bakery, café, and catering shop to Litchfield.
Today, Margaret fills boxed lunches or sticks and bindles with hearty chicken-salad, roast-beef, and vegetarian sandwiches, each stacked atop marble-rye, white, or wheat bread. She creates soul-warming soups and chowders, fresh-from-the-oven pot pies, and hearty platters of mac 'n' cheese. For dessert, a glass bakery case showcases freshly baked and elegantly decorated cakes—such as red velvet, mocha raspberry, and classic carrot—and tempts passersby with cream puffs, fruit-filled strudels, and nearly 20 types of pies, from blueberry to mincemeat.
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.
More than 13,000 grapevines coil along fences at Sunset Meadow Vineyards, spanning more than 50 acres of rolling fields atop Litchfield Hills. The vineyard's keepers prune those vines by hand, harvesting grapes to make award-winning wines such as a chardonnay that took home a gold medal in 2012's International Eastern Wine Competition. Visitors can drop by to sample pours paired with cheese, smoked meats, and chocolate, or attend one of the vineyard's many events, such as the annual Harvest Festival. While the vineyard does not allow outside beverages, it does welcome outside snacks to complement purchases of its wines, and picnickers will be happy to discover that the breathtaking hillsides face west, giving a clear view of the sunset as well as the cowboys who ride off into it.
Shebeen is the Irish Gaelic word for illegal brewhouse, or speakeasy. But for Irish-born head brewer Rich, Shebeen Brewing is the formalization of 25 years of homebrewing. That's 25 years experimenting with unique flavors and ingredients; so in addition to classic styles such as irish pale ales and rye porters, Shebeen offers a rotating roster of specialty beers.
The brewery's most famous is the cannoli beer, made with vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and served with a dusting of powdered sugar and shaved chocolate. Like the cannoli beer, many of Rich's creations focus on sweeter or spicier ingredients as opposed to aggressive use of hops. This results in concoctions such as the bacon Kona stout, or the wine-like saison made with concord-grape extracts. But Rich doesn't shy away from bolder flavors?one slightly green-hued brew pairs the cooling flavor of cucumbers with hot wasabi. Customers can sample the range of creative beers during tastings or tours, or carry home growlers for a more fun, rewarding alternative to lifting weights.
With the exact same management, cooking staff, and emblematic painting since its founding in 1989, Mona Lisa Restaurant has had nearly three decades to perfect its Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. It was three decades well spent. Today, the eatery serves veal piccata, new york strip steaks, and a rack of lamb brushed with dijon mustard. They also serve rich pasta dishes such as penne ala vodka with prosciutto and light cream, the angel hair and shrimp adriatico with sweet peppers and a white wine sauce, and the Southern Italian sampler, made up of manicotti, ravioli, eggplant, meatballs, and sausage. The fine food is matched by an equally excellent drink selection, which includes dry, sweet, and fruity martinis, vintage ports and cognacs, and a top-tier scotch selection that includes Bordeaux-finished Bowmore and an 18-year Glenlivet.