Monday, August 21, 2006

Detroit Free Press Raves About Connecticut Wine

Everything but the grapes
Connecticut fruit winery part of a growing national trend
Detroit Free Press
August 20, 2006

SHERMAN, Conn. -- White Silo Farm and Winery isn't very big or elaborate.

There are no 300-gallon fermentation bins, no oak barrels for aging, no fancy corking or bottling machinery.

In fact, there are no grapes. Not one single grape.

Instead, there are raspberry and blackberry bushes, black currant shrubs, cherry trees and rhubarb plants.

That's because the small, family-owned business is a fruit winery, tucked away along the border of Connecticut and New York. And in the past five years, it has become part of a sharp growth of specialty and traditional wineries across the nation.

The number of wineries in Connecticut has more than doubled in the past six years, from 11 to 27, according to the National Association of American Wineries. There are some 4,280 wineries in the United States, up from 3,820 in 2005.

The White Silo Farm and Winery jumped on board around 2001. It is one of an estimated 50 to 100 specializing in fruit wine around the country.

The old red barn it's housed in overlooks nearly 90 acres of lush meadow. Visitors can watch cows and horses grazing in the pastures.

Inside the barn, an art gallery displays works from local artists. Small tables face the doors for a calming view of the orchards.

The winery produces sour cherry, rhubarb and raspberry wine. Black currant and blackberry wine are also available.

The house specialty in the summer is a blackberry sangria made with dry rhubarb wine, sweet blackberry wine and orange juice.

In the winter, visitors are encouraged to go for a black currant wine, a dark, full-bodied wine that Ralph Gorman, the winery's owner, says goes well with spaghetti and meatballs.

Nestled in Litchfield Hills, the specialty winery is part of the Connecticut Wine Trail, 16 wineries promoted together to lure tourists. Gorman says business has steadily grown since his business joined three years ago.

Though Connecticut isn't Napa Valley or Bordeaux, the specialty winery offers a unique, appealing getaway.

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