I love my job at the winery, it’s such a special place that everyone who sets foot on the property is touched in some way by its magic. It may sound a little cheesy, I get that, but this is the truth. Every shift – every single one – I hear, “I want your job” from a visitor to our tasting room. I smile because I know how lucky I am. Saltwater Farm Vineyard is a space of beauty, talent, and love. From the grounds, to the wines, to the staff and owners – I don’t know that I’ve seen anything else like it. You should come visit, if you haven’t.
This summer I have finally been able to get out and visit some of the other wineries on the CT Wine Trail and beyond. We get lots of great feedback in the tasting room, but with limited mutual days off with my husband, we decided to hit the ones I hear about most.
Our first stop: Gouveia Vineyards in Wallingford, CT
Coming from the very flat and coastal SE corner of CT, it was a pretty drastic change of scenery. From the parking area, you are greeted by this massive (and quite beautiful) outdoor seating area. The pergola provides a shady spot to sit and sip some wine while taking in the view.
I met a family from Colorado last weekend while working the tasting room, they were in town visiting their daughter and her wife who lived locally. I asked them how they were enjoying the area and their response struck me. They made some comments I expected but then added that it felt a little claustrophobic, not being able to see further than the wood line. That’s not something that’s ever even crossed my mind. I probably looked at them cross-eyed but after giving it some thought, I can see how they felt that way. It was refreshing to see out in the distance over some rolling hills, we don’t have that vantage point at home.
We went through a tasting in the Stone House at their busy bar, the wines were simply poured and varietal announced. For $8.00 they offer four pre-selected wines and one of your choice from their list, including the glass to take home. It sounded like a great deal and it is if you are not there for an educational experience.
When asked about their rose’, we were told it was most comparable to a White Zinfandel which sent chills up my spine… not in a good way. I’m sorry but that is the reason why most people won’t go near the likes of a rose’, that stuff is a lame excuse for wine. Too harsh?
Ok, that’s just my personal opinion so don’t get mad.
Neither one of us was blown away by any in particular but we wanted to sit outside and relax for a while before heading over to Paradise Hills. The sun was relentless, clouds minimal, so we both wound up with a glass of chilled Chardonnay to help quell the heat. Steel for him and Oak for me, an unlikely choice any other day. The veranda spills out onto an open stone terrace where there is also plenty more seating. This is where we found a table as the veranda was all taken. All in all, we had a good experience and would return with a different level of expectation.
My recommendation is to come here with a picnic, and spend some time enjoying the 360-degree view with friends.
A little piece of vineyard history, just think how many grapes passed through this press.
Second stop: Paradise Hills Vineyard also in Wallingford, CT
We almost passed this winery up, almost.
They are located at the end of a residential cul-de-sac, seriously. It’s a beautiful neighborhood, and you would never know what was at the end of the long driveway if it weren’t for all the signage. This Tuscan style winery is family owned and operated, a lack of labor they have not. This was an interesting realization for me, you see, my very first vineyard experience was in Tuscany; how spoiled was I? This was one of the few excursions I went on while studying abroad at the American University of Rome my junior year of college. In retrospect, I can’t believe I didn’t fork over the extra Euro to ship some of that wine home. Needless to say, I have a soft spot for most anything Italian.
Once through the door, we were greeted by a friendly, “Welcome to paradise” from a man behind a hammered copper bar. His name was Albert but he told us his friends called him Al.
We joined in with another group of people who were also ready to start a tasting. Al gave us a summation of the vineyard history and their wines with plenty of personality to go along with it. We enjoyed his relaxed company, the underlying tone was that of hospitality and gratitude for what they had created together as a family to share with us. Their wine was not complex, it was not perfectly balanced, and it didn’t knock our socks off. Instead, it reminded me of the homemade table wine I’d become familiar with, exactly what they were going for. If you are looking for anything else, this winery is not for you.
During the tasting, the glasses were swapped out between red and white pours, all of which were generous. That’s one thing that really stands out between the wineries, I’m not there to get bombed but I’d like more than a dribble please.
We took home one bottle of red and white. The Presidents Choice was not part of the tasting but it was said to be their best.
This is Waffle. Waffle the Frenchie, the urban doggie weekending in the countryside, the vineyard hopping pup, loved and owned by a young couple from NY. Thank you for sharing her with us even though I immediately started babbling and loving all over her like a goon. How did I forget to ask how she earned the name Waffle?!
One more just because ~
And of course, a proud display of flags along the rustic rose studded drive.
More to come in Part II ~ Maugle Sierra and Preston Ridge.