A Trip to Connecticut Valley Winery
We closed out February with a visit to Connecticut Valley Winery on Litchfield Turnpike (Rte 202) in New Hartford, CT. The winery is easy to find with helpful signage on the highway, and the vineyard is visible as you approach the driveway entrance. Driving through a vineyard to reach a tasting room always sets the mood right to try some new wine, and that’s exactly what one does here. The building is huge, obviously used for wine making, and the tasting room is up the steep ramp and to the left.
Luckily a couple was just leaving as we entered, otherwise there wouldn’t have been a table for us! It’s cozy in the tasting room, with just a handful of tables and an inviting fire in the open fireplace. Light music plays in the ceiling speakers. The room is decorated with accolades of their past awards, and various wine related chotskies.
We were greeted upon entering, and given a menu of wines and an offer for a tasting, or a glass. Fifteen dollars to taste six wines, or add the two at the bottom of the menu for five dollars more. The tastings are small, so we got the flight of eight for each of us.
They have tasting paddles reminiscent of many breweries with little plastic cups for each taste. While I hoped for a little more of each wine, my wife was happy with the size, considering the number.
All of their wines are sweet. Some less than others, but none could be described as even semi-dry. We were encouraged to try them in order on the menu, and they were served in that order on the paddle, with the Dolce Vita and the Black Bear separate from the paddle. I appreciated the ease I had in knowing what I was tasting, though I would recommend to taste in order of sweetness, driest first, and that was not the order on the menu, so I’m not sure why we were given the recommendation we received.
The menu pictured above does a good job describing the wines, but there were a few I’d like to share my experience.
Midnight – I am fairly certain this is the first time I’ve tasted a Frontenac wine, and I’m blown away. While I prefer drier wines, the flavor profile of this was unlike anything I’ve ever had before. Cocoa, damp tobacco, black cherry. I went home with a bottle of this, and will search for a dry version in the near future. This may become my favorite grape.
Black Tie Cabernet Franc – Cab Franc is one of my favorite single grape wines, and a restaurateur friend of mine and I will often tell each other how it is the most under-appreciated wine grape. If you like sweet wines, this may be a good way to introduce yourself to Cab Franc. While this was one of their less sweet selections, I felt like the residual sugar masked the subtler notes of a Cab Franc that make it such a great wine.
Ole Sangria – The menu description lists cherry last, but I’d suggest that is the biggest flavor, and I love it for that. Very ‘fruit punch’ overall taste. I hope the winery would consider carbonating it and bottling it like a wine cooler. I’d take a four pack of those on every beach trip.
Dolce Vita – Connecticut Valley Winery’s version of ‘sweet’, so very sugary. But interesting enough to note pineapple in the flavor profile, which is rare in wine.
So if sweet wines appeal to you, and you want a cozy place to chill with a friend or two, this place is definitely worth your time. We enjoyed our visit.