When it comes to wineries in the Northeast of the United States, those in the famed Finger Lakes region of New York often get most of the attention. However, neighboring Connecticut also boasts a number of exceptional wineries that produce unique, award-winning wines.
The following are two of the best wineries to visit in the Constitution State.
1. Sunset Meadow Vineyards
Located in Goshen, Connecticut, Sunset Meadow Vineyards is a premier vineyard in Litchfield County. Over the years, the winery has garnered a number of awards at prominent wine competitions.
Its Merlot has won two consecutive Silver Medals at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and a Bronze Medal at the Grand Harvest International Wine Competition. The most recent vintage of this wine was aged in American and French oak barrels and features a cherry flavor and hints of butter and black pepper.
Sunset Meadow Vineyards’ red wines also include the Twisted Red, which has been recognized not only at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition but also at the International Eastern Wine Competition. Aged in French oak barrels, this full-bodied wine is a blend of Cabernet, Lemberger, Cabernet Franc, and Chamborcin. It pairs well with steak and roast.
Sunset Meadow Vineyards’ white wines include the Cayuga White, which is made exclusively with grapes grown in Connecticut. Over the years, this wine has won nearly 20 awards. The vintage has flavors of melon, peach, and grapefruit and goes well with seafood and poultry. The winery’s other award-winning white wines include the Vidal Blanc, which is a mix of Vidal and Chardonnay. Aged in American oak barrels, this crisp wine features flavors of butter and nut.
Visitors looking for something different can also try Shades, a sparkling wine with a pomegranate color and strong berry notes, or Midnight Ice, an ice wine with flavors of passion fruit, papaya, and mango.
In addition to offering tastings of its wines, Sunset Meadow Vineyards hosts a variety of events throughout the year. These include Chocolate and Wine Pairings and holiday wine events. To learn more, visit SunsetMeadowVineyards.com.
2. Paradise Hills Vineyard
Founded in 1997, Paradise Hills Vineyard is located in Wallingford on the George Washington Trail. The winery sits in a valley where its vines benefit from rocky, gravelly soil with excellent drainage perfect for growing high-quality grapes.
Dedicated to sustainability in viticulture and winemaking, Paradise Hills Vineyard employs environmentally friendly practices and renewable technology. The winery even features a geothermal heating and heating system and uses a variety of recyclable materials.
The winery’s premier red wine is the President’s Choice, which features blackberry flavors and soft tannins. This award-winning, full-bodied wine also has hints of cedar and currant and offers a bold finish. Red wine lovers should also try the Washington Trail Red, a dry, medium-bodied wine with aromas of light berries and a zesty finish.
Paradise Hills Vineyard’s red wines also include the Riomonte, a ruby-colored blend with spicy pepper and plum flavors. Another red blend is the TRIO, which offers spicy flavors of plum and berry and pairs well with lamb, spicy dishes, and grilled meat.
Paradise Hills Vineyard’s white wines include Temptation, which is one of the winery’s highest scoring wines at 88 points. Produced with locally-grown apples, Temptation has a delicate structure and is ideal for including in a summer picnic. Another highly-ranked white wine is the Traminette, an 86-point wine with floral aromas and flavors of melon, lime, and white peach. The Traminette pairs well with a shellfish or seafood dinner.
White wine enthusiasts should also try the Chardonnay, which was produced with hand-selected grapes grown on-site, as well as the Vino Bianco del Paradiso, an award-winning wine that earned 87 points. A white blend, this semi-sweet wine is packed with fruit flavors and has a hint of citrus. Finally, Paradise Hills Vineyard’s currently available white wines also include the Washington Trail White, a medium-bodied, fruit-forward wine with citrus and apple flavors.
Visitors can sample these and other wines in the winery’s Tuscan-style tasting room. It offers a welcoming atmosphere with a wood-burning fireplace and views of the vineyards below. In the summer, Paradise Hills Vineyard’s opens its outside bar for visitors to enjoy a glass of wine or purchase a bottle to enjoy with guests.
In addition to offering tastings, the winery hosts concerts throughout the year for guests to enjoy the music of local musicians while sampling outstanding wines. To learn more, visit ParadiseHillsVineyard.com.
The above two wineries offer an introduction to Connecticut wine country. Before visiting, be sure to check online for updates on new vintages and upcoming tastings and events. You may find that the wines produced in the Constitution State become some of your favorites and pique your interest in sampling more vineyards in this small, but fertile, state.