Monday, September 25, 2006

Connecticut Wineries Hosting Fall Events This Coming Weekend!

North Haven Post ran this article on September 21, 2006, about this weekend's upcomming events at several area wineries.....

By Frederick Nevin

This Saturday marks the official return of autumn, complete with the promise that we will soon see leaves turning color and cooler temperatures.
The return of fall also is a special time of year for winemakers in Connecticut as the change of season comes in the middle of the yearly grape harvest.
To celebrate the bounty, two Connecticut wine farms will hold festivals this weekend and next.

In Litchfield county, the Haight Vineyard - the state's oldest winery - invites the public to get out and celebrate at the Litchfield Hills Harvest Festival scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Next weekend, the Stonington Vineyards, 523 Taugwonk Road, Stonington, will welcome the public to its 8th annual harvest wine and food festival from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Stonington festival will feature gourmet food, live music, wine tasting and a wine-cellar tour. There is no entry fee. You can learn more about the Stonington festival at www.stoningtonvineyards.com.
Meanwhile, the festival at the Haight Vineyard will be staging its 15th annual festival. The Vineyard has been producing wine grapes on 20-acres of land ever since commercial wineries were permitted by state law in 1978 with the passing of the Connecticut Winery Act.

The owner of the vineyard, Sherman Haight, was instrumental in passing the law, which he said, was written at the winery and presented to the state legislature. It took a few years to pass the bill, he recalled earlier in the week, because lawmakers did not believe wine farms could be successful here. Two good harvests convinced them otherwise, he recalled.

Currently, the Haight vineyard produces 45,000 bottles of wine each year.
"Eighty percent of it is white wine," Haight said. Growing grapes for red wine is coming along. But Haight said it is not yet where it should be. "We hope it will be a big success in a few years," he explained.

Climate is the biggest reason why vineyards have emerged so slowly in Connecticut. The cool, wet climate presents numerous growing problems.

As for the festival, Haight said, the event offers something for everyone and fun for all. The festival is in keeping with traditions in other more popular wine-growing countries where they are regularly held to "celebrates the grape harvest."
To give the festival that real wine flavor, the vineyard will offer a complimentary wine tasting, vineyard tours and an old-fashion grape stomping contest for kids at 1 and 4 p.m. each day. Other children activities include hayrides, pony rides, and tug-of-war contests at noon and 3 p.m. each day.

The event will also feature a number of artisans selling hand-crafted treasurers, gourmet food and other wares in an old-fashioned Yankee village setting.
Also, the wine garden pavilion will be open with a menu of hearty fare and Haight wines served by the glass. As an added bonus, state law allows the vineyards to sell bottles of wine to the public on Sundays, something retailers are not allowed to do in Connecticut.

To reach the Haight Vineyard, 29 Chestnut Hill Road, Litchfield, take Route 8 to exit 42. Follow Route 118 for approximately 3 miles and turn left onto Chestnut Hill Road.

The cost is $5 for adults and $4 for seniors. The event is free for children 12 and under.