Cold, snow, leaves changing color, New York City, Martha's Vineyard....most of you out there might think    there's just a lot of preppy talk going on up here in New England. What many people don't know is that Connecticut, despite it's continually changing weather, beaches along the Sound and clam bakes, we're toting almost 40 different vineyards, 26 which are active wineries! It might be strange to think of Connecticut as a state where one would go winery hopping, but the diversity of micro-climates, rocky soil and rolling hills make it a prime grape-growing region.
Two main wine trails make up the coveted land along winding back roads: The Western (Highlands) & Eastern (Shoreline) Trail. The major grape varietals found in this coastal state are: Cabernet Franc, Cayuga (Riesling's sister), Seyval Blanc (similar to Sauvignon Blanc), Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc (think Muscat).

Hopkins Vineyard

One well-known vineyard on the map is Hopkins Vineyard up in the beautiful hills of Litchfield County. This winery, owned and operated by Hillary Hopkins, has been active for 30 years and is the first established winery in the state. The family-owned property dates back to over 200 years, originally as a tobacco and dairy farm. Around 30 acres surround the estate with over 10 different varietals planted. It's the only winery in the state to produce it's own Sparkling Wines, one of which is made with Estate-Grown Pinot Noir & Chardonnay in the traditional method and the only traditional Ice Wine (wine made from frozen Vidal Blanc grapes, because it does get that cold around here).

Wine To Look For

Hopkins Vineyard - 'Westwind'
100% Cayuga grapes, steel fermented. A lovely nose of grapefruit and lemon, semi-sweet flavor and mouthfeel of nectarines, apple, melon

Hopkins Vineyard Website

Priam Winery

This past weekend took me out to the eastern side of the state where I generally don't venture. Once such stop on the trail was Priam Winery. A 40-acre estate on a tucked away, shabby chic barn house in the quiet town of Colchester. The vineyard welcomed me with a gorgeous array of free-spirited gardens, a covered patio terrace to sip on your favorite glass of wine and chat with a friend. The highlight grape at Priam is the St.Croix grape; a grape from Minnesota! The flavor is earthy, yet with a floral aroma and a light fruity flavor, similar to Merlot or Chambourcin. DO add a chocolate pairing to your tasting...your taste-buds will thank you.

Wine To Look For

'Salmon River Red'
A traditional Bordeaux style blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon barrel-aged one year. Blackberry on the nose, black pepper, black currant and leather on the palate. Finishes with oak and tannin. Very smooth medium-bodied wine! Wonderful with a good piece of dark chocolate!

Priam Vineyards Website

Gouveia Vineyards

Gouveia (Goo-Vay-ah), 140-acre hilltop winery, where the noise spills out the door! This place is jammin' with a smorgasbord of people sharing their own family-style meals with live music. And what a view! The Gouveia family positioned the winery right at the top of a hill overlooking the vineyards, sheep grazing and small ponds. This vineyard was first planted in 1999 and opened to the public in 2004. They cultivate about 25 acres of all their own grapes, with only a few outsourced. The main grape leader here is Cabernet Franc, which is common state-wide. Secondly, Cayuga and Chardonnay.

Wine To Look For

'Stone House White'
A Semi-sweet wine that combines classic Chardonnay and crisp Seyval Blanc and Vignoles. Flavors of bisquity breads, light melon fruit that blend superbly from careful aging in mostly steel tanks.

Gouveia Vineyards Website

For a complete list of Connecticut Wineries and Vineyards, you can visit Ctwine.com. Hope you enjoy the Nutmeg State as much as I do! For more winery information and tales of grape stomping, please visit my blog - Kronick Wino. Cheers!