Grape Gratification

Hopkins Vineyard grapes in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Hopkins Vineyard grapes (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Growing grapes isn’t just for those in California and France my dears, oh no, we in the harsher climates can also indulge if we choose . . . Or, we can hike on down The Connecticut Wine Trail and partake of a wide assortment of wines made right here in chilly New England.  Connecticut is one of the fastest growing wine regions in the U.S., with a vast selection of 25 individual vineyards scattered across some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the country.  The Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association is responsible for developing the trail system to help guide people to various wineries in Connecticut.  Please visit:

Blackberries at White Silo Farm in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Blackberries at White Silo Farm (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Connecticut’s cooler climate promotes a refined flavor development, accommodating a range of taste preferences from robust reds to dry whites.  Several wineries use other locally grown fruits such as pumpkins, pears, blueberries, raspberries and rhubarb to offer an interesting alternative for dessert wines.  No matter where you decide to travel, there is sure to be a New England wine to satiate any connoisseur!

** Here are other fruits you can grow in the colder New England climate: Juicy Fruits and FIGS ~

Hopkins Hilltop Vineyard in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Hopkins Hilltop Vineyard (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

The morning sky was crystal blue as I turned into the parking lot of the Hopkins Vineyard, a National Bicentennial Farm owned and run by the Hopkins Family for over 225 years. The Hopkins Vineyard (est. 1979) has a reputation not only for its welcoming, friendly staff and beautiful atmosphere, but also for producing award-winning whites, reds and sparkling wines from 11 varieties of grapes.  And did I mention the stunning views overlooking Lake Waramaug from both the first and second story bars?  My friend and I sampled several wines while chatting with the staff, and were graciously invited to walk through one of the vineyards situated on a hilltop overlooking the lake.  We made our purchases, stashed them in the car and quickly headed up the road to one of the most spectacular views of the lake, as well as row after row of lush grapes.  This was about as close to heaven as one can get on earth. Please visit:

Grape Arbor at DiGrazia Vineyard in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Grape Arbor at the DiGrazia Vineyard (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

I met with Dr. Paul DiGrazia of DiGrazia Vineyards as he lunched under the grape laden arbor at his Brookfield store.  As we talked, it quickly became clear that this was a man very involved with the chemistry of wine making.  Dr. DiGrazia explained that their vineyards are at three different locations: Brookfield, Greenwich and Amenia, New York, and that they grow eight different varieties of hybrid and native grapes.  Their oldest vineyard is 35 years old, and Dr. DiGrazia feels that a vine doesn’t truly mature and produce the best flavor until its 30th year. The chemistry aspect comes into play with Dr. DiGrazia’s focus on their exclusive sulfate free wines as well as increasing antioxidant content, of which he developed a way to boost the levels from 1200 milligrams per liter to 3000 milligrams per liter. Founded in 1984, the DiGrazia winery offers over 15 wines, ranging from dry to sweet, using grapes and a wide variety of local fruit and honey. Please visit:

Ripe Grapes at White Silo Farm in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Ripe grapes at White Silo Farm (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

And even in my small hometown of Sherman; the White Silo Farm & Winery is a family operated winery specializing in small batch fruit (rhubarb, blackberry & raspberry) and grape wine produced right on the premises. As you drive in, you’ll notice stone steps leading to cozy outdoor seating areas, patches of rhubarb mixed with flowers and herbs, a rustic red barn contrasted by a stately white silo (hence the name) and a friendly staff greeting you as you walk inside.  I sampled the Dry Rhubarb Wine, the Semi-sweet Blackberry Wine and finished with a few sips of their own Sangria-yum!  It was hard to decide, but I chose the Dry Rhubarb for now, as I plan to visit again soon.  Visitors are welcome to walk around, so I walked down the blackberry lined driveway (I swear those ripe berries were calling out to me-but I resisted) to the four year old vineyard beyond, where rows of green and purple-black grapes hung waiting for harvest.  As I reluctantly turned back and headed to the car a few butterflies crossed my path before fluttering off to a nearby flower. Yes, just another day in paradise.  Please visit:

Ripening Grapes at Hopkins Vineyard in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Ripening grapes at Hopkins Vineyard (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Even if you’re more of a beer drinker (like me), visit your local vineyard and sample some wine, walk around and enjoy the scenery, talk to the owners and staff about the science, skill and creativity behind wine making, and most importantly, please support your local wineries. Cheers~

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