Thursday, July 27, 2006

Hartford Courant Showcases Jones Winery in Connecticut

Summer Wine Tours & Tastings
Jones Winery, Shelton
July 16, 2006
BY KATE LISCINSKY, Special to ctnow.com

Enjoy a scenic drive through the winding White Hills of Shelton on your way to Jones Winery, a historic 400-acre farm that's part of Connecticut's Wine Trail.

For just $5, you can partake in the farm's wine tasting festivities, held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the summer months. The place surrounds visitors with a peaceful, quaint country atmosphere, filled with empty wine barrels, old garage barns, antique tractors and pick-up trucks.

Make your way to a large, rustic red barn, previously used as a dairy barn. Enter the old milking parlor and take your place next to a long, imposing wood countertop. The countertop was fashioned from one of the farm's largest trees planted by the original Mr. Jones - Philip Jones, a Welsh-Irish immigrant who began farming the land in the 1870s. Here, the Jones' wine tasting experience begins with a question: "What do you like about wine?"

Photographs depicting the winemaking process line the perimeter of the tasting room. The images show grapes being harvested from farm's 25-acre Pumpkin Seed Hill, as well as the bottling process, all done on-site.

Soothing background music and the friendly staff provide a comfortable vibe. The staff, consisting mostly of Jones family members, efficiently explain the sampled wines to guests, whether they be novice drinkers or aficionados. Jones Winery is also accommodating to families with children. A small play area stocked with toys and videos is set-up within view of the wine tasting area.

The farm's summer tastings feature six Jones Winery creations:

Stonewall White, a dry white wine with hints of citrus and green apple;

Ripton Red, a dry, medium bodied red wine in the European Rosso style complements;

Woodlands White, a blend of white grapes producing a refreshingly crisp wine with a lightly sweet finish;

Dawn's First Blush, a sweet blush wine made from apples, pears and black currants;

Black Currant Bouquet, a dessert-style wine with a berry taste and bouquet; and

Strawberry Splendor, a sweet wine made from the farm's famous strawberries.

More than 80 percent of products used to create the Jones family wines are Connecticut grown.

All wine tasting participants receive a complimentary wine glass. Then it's on to the winery's gift shop where visitors can purchase the wines they tasted that afternoon along with the other bottles that are not "in season." Bottles range from $11.25-$18.75. The gift shop also features a variety of collectibles meant to enhance the serving of food and wine, such as a large display of salt and pepper shakers.

Visitors to the winery should also check out the farm's pick-your-own fresh seasonal produce, including strawberries, blueberries, pumpkins and Christmas trees.

Tastings and tours are held on weekends from May to December, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, go to www.jonesfamilyfarms.com.

Learn more about the Connecticut Wine Trail at www.ctwine.com.