Connecticut through the Grape Vine

Wine yesterday, coffee today, beer tomorrow. Well, the wine was actually about two weeks ago on the Saturday before we left for Miami, but it was part of a fun afternoon that deserves mention in this blog.

That day actually started bright and early as we traveled to Meriden, CT for their annual Daffodil Festival. This two-day celebration has been a regular event for Meriden for the last 37 years and it heralds in spring with “food, flowers, fireworks and fun.”

Hubbard Park, where the festival is held, reportedly has more than 650,000 daffodils that bloom for the festival each year. I wasn’t about to count each one, but the hills and valleys were all sprinkled with tons of the blooming yellow flowers, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they were close.

Like most festivals, visitors can spend the day winding through alleys of tents featuring local artists and food, as well as get their thrills on fair rides, including a Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, miniature train and more.

We went for the parade since Matt’s dad was playing the trumpet in it with the Connecticut Hurricanes Alumni marching band that morning.

The theme for the year was Dr. Seuss, so the parade featured everything from The Cat in the Hat and Whos to colonial soldiers and Little Miss Daffodil. Even the Ghost Busters made an appearance.

After living in the South for so many years, it was interesting (though not surprising) to see nods to the American Revolution instead of the Civil War. That and the very chilly weather reminded me I was in Connecticut and not at one of the many festivals in Atlanta.

Following the festival, we made our way to the Gouveia Vineyards in Wallingford. The beautiful stone and timber winery sits atop a hill overlooking its 32 acres of vineyards, as well as the surrounding fields and woodlands.

According to the website, the founder grew up in Portugal and, when he got to Connecticut, wanted to bring the strong values of community so important in his birth country to his new one. So he and his wife established the Gouveia Vineyards and encourage their guests to come with family and friends to build memories (as well as their relationships) over beautiful scenery and a good glass of wine.

Inside, the winery is beautiful and open, with several big rooms filled with plenty of tables at which to sit and drink, as well as numerous large windows letting in lots of natural light and providing breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

We brought lunch (bringing food is actually encouraged at this winery–which is a big plus) and met one of our friends there. We each got a glass of wine to enjoy with our sandwiches (Matt got the Chardonnay Steel and I opted for the Chardonnay Oaky, while our friend picked the Stone House Red) and cozied up at a long table in a room opposite the bar. Though I wouldn’t put their Chardonnays in my favorite category, they were enjoyable (I enjoy a good glass of wine, but am no snob by any stretch of the imagination) and a good compliment to our lunch and conversation.

After lunch, we decided to do a tasting. For $10 you can taste five wines and take home a souvenir glass (four pre-selected wines and one of your choice). We also opted to taste the Epiphany Reserve for an additional $2. Though I’m not typically a fan of really sweet wines, the Epiphany turned out to be my favorite. I could imagine drinking it (in small amounts) with a great piece of dark chocolate.

We decided to fully embrace the spirit of the winery and got a bottle of the Stone House Red to enjoy over further conversation. As the non-driver, I was (fortunately? unfortunately?) recruited to drink the majority of the bottle, so I took one for the team as best I could. Where are my wine club girls when I need them (Miss you ladies!)?

Though it was too cold for us to sit outside that day (my blood is still thin from living in the South), I was told that in the warmer months people flock to the vineyard for picnics and the hill becomes blanketed with people eating, drinking and enjoying the sun.

According to the FAQs on the website, the winery does not do weddings, but you can take engagement photos there if you call ahead. It also sounds like you can volunteer to help with the harvest in late September/early October.

Interested in giving it a try? Visit: http://gouveiavineyards.com/ for directions and contact information.

At the beginning of my post, I mentioned beer tomorrow. Matt and I are going to be touring Olde Burnside Brewery after he is done with work on Friday. Stay tuned for a review next week!

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