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.
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.?
M.E.L.T. Fitness Studio's trainers see each body can be defined and molded with the appropriate exercises. Rather than a standard group workout for all their clients, they provide what they call group personal training, modifying and accentuating various exercises to the ability level of their students. They stick to a theme each day, reserving Tuesdays for fat-burning blasts, Fridays for abdominal work, and Saturdays for m.e.l.t.ed cardio, which burns as much fat as possible while building cardio endurance. Within that theme, they provide personal variations for each client to accommodate fitness level or injuries, very often naturally relieving chronic pain by carefully strengthening muscles around the affected area.
Within the stately Litchfield Inn, Bantam Bistro's executive chef Jonathan Gyles lends Italian flair to gourmet American dishes crafted from local and organic ingredients, such as mushrooms from Mountaintop Mushrooms and cheese from Cato Corner Farm. The expansive menu includes dazzling charcuterie platters, fillets of Atlantic salmon and tails of Maine lobster, and pastas such as bucatini and agnolotti. Barkeeps pour sips of more than 118 wines and muddle peaches into Bantam's signature take on the classic old fashioned, whose amber tones glow in the flickering light of tabletop candles in leaf-etched votives. The dining room’s brick-lined fireplace gives chefs a cozy place to store canapés shaped like Christmas stockings, and sparkling chandeliers twinkle above Sunday brunch dishes nestled inside pristine silver chafing dishes.
You might describe Downtown Cafe's dining room as enormous?that is, until you see the burgers, which redefine what big can be. These juicy behemoths are served alongside saucy wings, slabs of smoky, fall-off-the-bone ribs, and a full menu of drinks from the bar. In warmer months, head up to the 1,700-square-foot rooftop patio, where live musicians provide a fun and casual soundtrack to meals.
New to the area, chef Hector Avila prepares small plates and entrees inspired by the cuisines of Spain, France, and Italy at Le Bistro by Avila. He dresses fresh turbot or tilapia with beurre blanc sauce and enhances the flavors of roasted pork tenderloin with a chunky apple-cranberry relish made on-site. Desserts such as Belgian chocolate mousse or caramel-draped crème brulee provide a sweet finish, and servers pour wine atop a polished granite bar.