A crisp and sunny fall Saturday just begged for a drive around Connecticut's wineries. So we grabbed our passports and headed to the southeast corner of the state to enjoy the scenery, sample a glass or two, and discover a place to grab a bite somewhere on the way home.
Our first stop was Holmberg Orchards and Winery. We made it the first stop so we could do some apple picking as well. The tasting room at Holmberg is quite small and it was crowded since everyone seemed to be copying our idea!!! They produce a few fruity wines, as well as some hard ciders, and for $5 (with a souvenir glass!) we got to taste three of each. Our favorite from the wines was the sweet-tart Apple Cranberry which had a beautfully dry cranberry finish. We also loved the zippy sparkling Cortland hard cider and took home a bottle of it to enjoy on our porch swing while we watch the leaves fall.
Next up was a stop at Dalice Elizabeth Winery, a small winery that imports grapes but do all the pressing, fermenting and aging here in CT. A tasting here costs $10 for 4 - the three wines they had available then a second tasting of your favorite. A glass is usually included, but unfortunately for us they had run out. Still, it was here that we enjoyed what may perhaps be the most unusual (in a good way!) wine we've ever had - a chardonnay with quite noticeable and long-lasting hints of almond flavor. Truly unique and delicious. They have cheese platters and other goodies for purchase, with cute little tables under a trellis and a pretty pond to view.
The third stop we made was to Stonington Vineyards. We had gotten a late start, so it was almost 4:30 when we arrived. They were having some live entertainment starting at 5 and had stopped their tastings, but offered us a glass of our choice of their wines and an invitation to stay for some music for $8 each. Amy went for the cabernet franc while Chris had the rose. Both were good enough but nothing we liked quite enough to buy more.
We had time for one more stop, only because one of the vineyards wisely stays open until 6, and that was our favorite of the day, Maugle Sierra Vineyards. The tasting room was warm and spacious, the server was gracious and welcoming, and the wines ($10 for a tasting of 6 wines - 3 whites, 3 reds - with souvenir glass) were fantastic. Several are made with the St. Croix grape, and the reds (particularly the Ledyard Sunset Red) went wonderfully with chocolate (yes, truffles are available for purchase).
Hungry now, we asked if there was an interesting restaurant nearby, and the fine folks at Maugle Sierra handed us a cork and pointed us in the direction of Valentino's, a casual Italian place that offered us a discount in exchange for the winery's cork - a nice little bonus, we thought! They seemed to specialize in pizza and grinders, but we went all out with a couple of pasta dishes. Satisfied and growing tired, we headed back home, having enjoyed a perfect fall outing.