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.
Ed and Stephanie Raftery, founders of TrailHeads, donate 3% of their annual sales to charities including Guiding Eyes for the Blind after Ed was diagnosed with macular degeneration and declared legally blind. Instead of shelving his passion for athletics and the outdoors, Ed continues growing his sporting-apparel business with his wife, a clothing designer, running marathons, and even cycling. The tandem's inventive selection of headwear, gloves, and accessories was designed specifically for outdoor athletes. Headbands and hats have carefully placed openings to let ponytails swing about freely, and outdoorspeople can don gloves with small pockets to conveniently store keys, money, or minnows—but not trout.
The Tailgate-Music Valley Antiques Show and Vintage Marketplace have been going strong for more than 30 years and have offered inspiring design ideas to everyone from new homeowners to seasoned antiquers. The more than 140 vendors display a treasure trove of architectural and industrial items, fine and decorative art, furniture, and vintage and estate jewelry. On Saturday, February 16 at noon, expert designers will also host a hands-on decorating seminar. They'll share ways to incorporate vintage items into a traditional, contemporary, or industrial interior, such as pairing a modern coffee table with a 1920s-era lamp or stuffing a throw pillow with Federal Reserve bank notes.
Founded in 1928, Carr Hardware stocks more than 50,000 items that can aid in everything from DIY home-construction projects and lawn maintenance to automotive and party supplies. Shake down low-life weeds for lunch money with Roundup Pump 'N Go Weed & Grass Killer ($16.99), or surround them with positive role models by purchasing the 3.75-pound container of EZ Seed, a life-affirming combination of mulch, seed, and fertilizer ($13.99). Black or tan stack chairs ergonomically assist in lemonade consumption ($18 each), and children can wield 24-inch lawn-and-leaf rakes ($6.99) and glow LED flashlights ($3.99–$6.99) during lawn-raking raves. The 18-inch bamboo grill brush cleans cooking grates with dazzling fortitude and is amply suited to futuristic application as a robot loofah ($6.99).
In the late 1930s, two journalists from New York traveled to Litchfield, Connecticut, in search of a quiet vacation home where they could both focus on their writing. After transforming a small barn into their living space, however, William Harris and Jane Grant found themselves distracted from work by the surrounding countryside's rich foliage. They soon decided to devote themselves to horticulture, first in their own garden and later in the nursery that would become White Flower Farm. The couple's inquisitive and intelligent approach to gardening led them to seek out and educate themselves on new plant species, original design ideas, and modernized practices. As the couple developed a strong, local following of passionate horticulturists, their nursery business thrived, passing into the hands of the current owner, Eliot Wadsworth, in 1976.
Although its current staff nears 100 people, White Flower Farm still strives to maintain a personal touch with thoughtful customer service and the use of hands-on growing techniques. Five hundred varieties of plants grow in its 32 greenhouses under horticulturalists' constant care, and plants are packed carefully before they're shipped year-round to gardens across the country.
Brothers Daniel and Stanley found the perfect land for Taft Farms in 1961. Ever since then, the Tawczynskis have been maintaining pesticide-free sustainable agriculture there. Fourth-generation family members of all ages can still be found running the store and around in the fields. Visiting families can participate in hayrides, corn mazes, and pumpkin picking.