Wine, food and more wine: Discover what the annual CT Wine Festival in Goshen has to offer
Summertime means warm weather, beach fun and of course – the Connecticut Wine Festival. The CT Wine Festival attracts wine lovers from across the Nutmeg state with the promise of plentiful wine tastings, unique food and the all-important stamp on the Connecticut Wine Passport. While the tastings are the main attraction, the festival has something for everyone. During the weekend affair, you’ll find variety of exhibitors and artisan booths, food trucks and specialty food, musical entertainment and even grape stomping. After a two-year wine festival hiatus (the horror!), my fiancé Jonathan and I finally made our way back on July 24, 2016 and it did not disappoint.
It was a beautiful, hot summer day perfect for wine tastings. Full disclosure – we’re in the middle of planning our wedding and we got to a late start on this year’s Connecticut Wine Trail. Every summer since 2009, we’ve visited at least 16 of the Connecticut wineries so this year is an anomaly. Since our weekends are full of nuptial-related meetings, the festival was the perfect opportunity to taste some of our favorite wines and catch up with wineries we have yet to visit this year all in one place.
Speaking of catching up, one the highlights from the festival was finally meeting our Instagram buddy and wine blogger, Christina from Threads and Vino. Our love of wine connected us on social media and it was so fun to meet her in person! Threads and Vino has some serious wine-cred so be sure to check out her blog and follow her on Instagram.
CT Wine Festival 101
Tickets can be purchased advanced online or at the door. If you plan on participating in the wine tastings, be sure to bring your Driver’s License. After you receive your tickets, you’ll be given a wristband. Designated drivers, expectant moms or non-wine drinkers can purchase tickets at a discounted rate.
Attendees can taste up to four wines from each of the participating wineries. Tickets also include a commemorative wine glass and fun wine tote bag that fits up to 6 bottles. Bottles and glasses can be purchased directly at the each of the winery booths.
Parking is free and there is plenty of it. When you arrive at Goshen Fairgrounds you’ll be directed to park on an empty grassy field. Once parked, you will cross the street and enter the fairgrounds.
The Wine Tastings
Wine tastings are held in two air-conditioned buildings. Your ticket guarantees you four tasting per winery. We were having such a good time, and being the social event that it is, we didn’t take very good tasting notes (sorry!). However, here is a list of all the participating wineries.
- Bishop’s Orchards Winery – Guilford, CT
- DiGrazia Vineyards – Brookfield, CT
- Holmberg Orchards & Winery – Gales Ferry, CT
- Hopkins Vineyard – Warren, CT
- Jonathan Edwards Winery – North Stonington, CT
- Jones Family Farm – Shelton, CT
- Miranda Vineyards – Goshen, CT
- Paradise Hills Vineyard and Winery – Wallingford, CT
- Priam Vineyards – Colchester, CT
- Savino Vineyards – Woodbridge, CT
- Sharpe Hill Vineyards – Pomfret, CT
- Sunset Meadow Vineyards – Goshen, CT
- Taylor Brook Winery – Woodstock, CT
- White Silo Farm & Winery – Sherman, CT
The CT Wine Passport
If you’re participating in the Connecticut Farm Wineries Passport program, the Wine Festival has it’s own page. Be sure to grab this stamp if you want to submit your Passport for prizes! Individual wineries cannot stamp your passports for visiting their booths at the festival. You must plan to visit their winery on another occasion. Luckily, many are close to Goshen Fairgrounds, including: Sunset Meadow Vineyards and Miranda Vineyard in Goshen, Haight-Brown Vineyard in Litchfield, Connecticut Valley Winery and Jerram Winery in New Hartford, and Hopkins Vineyard in Warren.
Now you that you know the facts, here are some tips on how to best enjoy the festival.
Tips on Attending the Wine Festival
Buy your tickets early and online. The advantage is that the tickets online are offered at a slightly discounted rate.
Get there before or after peak time. Yes, it’s a two-day affair but it gets packed fairly quickly. We arrived around 3pm on a Sunday, which afforded us a great parking space and shorter tasting lines. The downside was that we missed the grape stomp and some of the musical acts. Also, one winery ran out of one specific wine as well. That’s how busy they were!
Read the brochure, plan your attack, pace yourselves and eat. After we wrapped up our tastings in the first building, we made our way to the food trucks for some sustenance. There were a ton of great concessions but we opted for pulled chicken sandwich from Zach and Lous’s Barbecue (YUM). We finished our lunch with booze pops from Popcentric. You read that right – booze pops.
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Heels have their place but I would be remiss not to warn against it. Between the grass parking lot, dirt and gravel grounds and alcohol consumption, you may find yourself in an unfortunate situation. Better off to wear flats, sneakers, sandals or even espadrilles. Regarding outfits, the festival is held in July so shorts, maxi dresses and other summer-like clothes are a must. to beat the heat. I’d also bring a rain coat or umbrella to be prepared for a chance of rain. While the tastings are held in air-conditioned buildings, you can’t escape from sweltering temperatures.
Play nice and #winedown. At first glance, the lines appear long but don’t be discouraged. While you may have to wait a few minutes before getting your first drop of Cabernet or Chardonnay, the turnaround is fairly quick as each winery can only serve four tastings.
TIP: If you’re traveling as a duo, find another pair to share a tasting with. It’ll cut the time spent in line and you may make friends!
Take pictures. Since wineries are limited to serving four tastings per person, the lines move pretty quickly. As a result, you don’t have much time to take down tasting notes. Instead, use your smartphone to snap pictures of your favorite wines. This is a quick and convenient way of remembering what wines and wineries you enjoyed most. Don’t forget to tag @ctwinetrail21 and #MyCTWineTrail if you share photos on social media!
Have a Designated Driver. Let’s face it, even if you didn’t intend to over do it, it can be easy to consume a little too much vino. After all, it is a wine festival. If you’re traveling in a group of friends, it’s a good idea to pick a designated driver. Sweeten the deal by buying their ticket, a bottle of wine to take home or repay the favor next year. If you didn’t appoint a friend as the designated driver and are incapable of driving, call a taxi or request an Uber. Also, if you’re commuting across the state, think about booking a local hotel room in advance.
Above all, have fun! This event is intended as a celebration of the hard work and dedication the Connecticut Vineyard and Winery Association have put forth to make this region one of the fastest growing in the United States. Cheers!
Share with us: Did you attend the CT Wine Festival? If so, what was your experience? What were your favorite wines and why? Besides the wine tastings, what was your favorite part of the festival? Leave a comment and let us know!