Connecticut

Connecticut Wine Overview

Connecticut, like most New England states, has a long history of agriculture and family farming. Some of that tradition still exists today, as large pastoral farms are found spread throughout this relatively small state. Dairy farming is prevalent here, as are fruit orchards. And, Connecticut is particularly known for producing crisp, delicious apples.

The proximity to the Atlantic Ocean provides Connecticut with a maritime micro-climate not unlike Bordeaux with a long and relatively cool growing season.

Not to be outdone, grape-growing has always been a Connecticut staple, too. Connecticut’s climate is surprisingly mild, tempered by its close proximity to Long Island Sound along the southern border. Because the state is so small geographically, the marine effect of the Sound extends across Connecticut and neighboring Rhode Island. The result is rich and fertile farmlands and somewhat milder winters than one might expect in an area this far north.

Connecticut — like most of our 50 states — has a long farm winery tradition and history, and here in New England, many of the wineries and vineyards stand on family farms which have existed for generations.

Vineyards and wineries are located throughout Connecticut. Most are family-owned farm wineries, meaning you’ll typically find the vineyard on the grounds. A surprising number of grape varieties thrive in Connecticut, so the styles of wine being produced are quite diverse. Among the grapes growing well here are Chambourcin, Riesling, Frontenac, Chardonnay and Chardonel, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon. As you visit Connecticut’s wineries, you’ll also notice numerous fruit-based wines, which are made with fruit other than grapes. Peaches do well in Connecticut, as do raspberries, pears, and more.

Some of the best table whites we’ve ever tasted were at wineries we visited in Connecticut and neighboring Rhode Island. We would honestly classify ourselves more as wine travel lovers vs. wine critics, but we do feel we’ve tasted and enjoyed enough wine to know what’s well made and what isn’t. We were really pleased with the depth, complexity and taste of just about all the Connecticut wines we tried.

Connecticut Wine Trail

Connecticut has one wine trail, and it’s somewhat unique in the respect that it has two distinct branches — the eastern branch and the western branch.

Sharpe Hill is very proud of their recent “Award in Excellence” from Zagat, and also for being the official wine for the U.S. Coast Guard Tall Ship Eagle.

All told, there are 24 wineries in Connecticut, and as mentioned, many are family-farm wineries. The beauty of the Connecticut Wine Trail is the distances between wineries are fairly close. It’d be accurate to say that from anywhere in the state of Connecticut, you’re no farther than 35-40 miles from one of the wineries.

The roads on both trails are very easy to navigate. Hartford is a good base from which to explore either branch. We would suggest you allow two separate weekends, or maybe even three, to explore the entire Connecticut Wine Trail. You’ll definitely want to explore some of the charming and historic towns along the route, and soak in the rolling Connecticut scenery.

At Stonington’s Vineyard learn firsthand why this Connecticut corner provides a perfect maritime microclimate.

In fact, we feel traversing the Connecticut Wine Trail is the most comprehensive (and most fun) way to experience the entire state. There are wineries located everywhere, from the far northwest corner in New Canaan to the southeast edge near Mystic. Mystic is a great place to explore, and you’ll find five Connecticut wineries just a short drive away.

You can find a link to each of Connecticut’s 24 wineries at CTWine.com, the state’s official wine site.

Travelogue:Connecticut Wine: Meandering in the Nutmeg State

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