Category Archives: Bucket List

Jonathan Edwards Wine Festival


About a month ago a few friends and I made our way to the Jonathan Edwards Wine Festival, which was of course at Jonathan Edwards Winery. The wine festival was so much fun!! For $20 you get a glass and a tasting ticket which was good for a variety of different wines.  At the festival there was live music, a wine-themed arts and crafts fair, and tons of great food.  We walked around for a while, saw the sights, got delicious caprese sandwiches from the food truck, had lots of wine, and finished off our day with some fresh oysters from the Behan Family Farm.  Though it was a HOT HOT day, it was lovely inside the tent.  The live music was fantastic and we had a wonderful time relaxing!

Address: 74 Chester Main Rd  North Stonington, CT 06359

Cost For Tasting: I’m not sure how expensive the tasting is, but the Wine Festival was $20, which included live music, and the tasting.  food was extra, but it was delicious, and I found it quite worth it.

Ranking:  8 –  I feel like I’d really have to go back for just a tasting to get a feel for the vineyard in a more laid back setting.  The festival was awesome, and I enjoyed the wine but I wasn’t able to get a feed for the inside of the winery.  I’d definitely like to go back again!

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New Hartford Wineries 2 of 2: Connecticut Valley Winery


The Connecticut Valley Winery was the third stop on our 3 stop wine tour a few weeks ago. The tasting station was pretty busy, and we had already done a couple earlier in the day, so we decided to just get a bottle of wine and enjoy it with our snacks.

Address: 1480 Litchfield Turnpike New Hartford, CT 06057

Cost For Tasting: $8, however we just purchased a bottle for about $14.

Ranking: 6 – wine was good, however the tasting room was small and there was limited seating outside. It also seemed that there was a large banquet area. So, it may be a nice place for a wedding reception or large party, but for a small intimate setting..ehh…

Tastings are offered on Saturday and Sunday from 12–5 pm. During Wine Trail Season (May–November), tastings are offered Thursday–Sunday from 12–5 pm. We chose one of their red wines: Black Tie Cabernet Francm which as stated on their website, is “an elegant and sophisticated red table wine, robust with a dry, silky finish”.

CT Valley Winery

winning wines

Kate

the spread

the vineyard

New Hartford Wineries 1 of 2: Jerram


On the same day that we went to Arrigoni Winery, my sister and I made our way over to Jerram Winery.

Address: 535 Town Hill Rd  New Hartford, CT 06057 – (860) 379-8749

Cost For Tasting:  $6, which includes 6 different samples, along with your choice of a stemmed or stemless wine glass.  I chose the stemless because this is actually the first winery in CT I’ve been to where they offer stemless!

Ranking:  7 – good wine, but very little seating, and strange smell.

The setting of this winery was much better than our first stop!  At least you couldn’t see the road from the tasting room!  I thought the wine here was pretty good, and the gentleman doing the tasting, Jim Jerram, seemed like he really knew what he was talking about.  Jerram Winery was only established about 15 years ago in 1998, but even at that they grow several varieties of grapes including Marechal Foch, Seyval Blanc and Vignoles.

Personally, I thought it was pretty cool that you could choose between a stemmed wine glass or a more trendy/modern stemless.  Though the wineglasses are very small, they are still really nice.  The one thing I found kind of funny/entertaining about this vineyard was that the bathroom in the tasting room was a FULL bathroom, including a shower.  That’s something I have not encountered at another vineyard thus far.

There was only room for about 4 people to sit inside, but on a nice day, there was a full deck and lots of grass that people could sit on.  If it were nicer out, and if we didn’t have plans to get to the next vineyard, I would have been happy to hang out there for a while!  I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to suggest a trip back out to Jerram, but if invited I wouldn’t decline.  🙂

Sign

winery

stemless glass

telling us about wine

vineyard

Arrigoni Winery: A small wine bar within a HUGE gift shop


My sister got a groupon for Arrigoni Winery in Portland, CT and asked me to go along with her to check it out.  Now there’s two things I’m not going to turn down:  Wine and Free Stuff, so I guess you can say this was the perfect storm for me…or so I thought.

Address: 1297 Portland-Cobalt Rd, Portland, CT 06480

Cost For Tasting:  I think my sister paid $10 for the groupon, but a regular tasting is $7, which includes 5 wines.  You can add on additional wines for $1 each.

Ranking:  2.  This was definitely my least favorite by far.

So you arrive, and its totally cheesy outside the winery including a bigger than life Santa Clause that stands outside all year round…hmm ok.  Then you walk into the winery, but are a bit confused because you basically are in a gift shop and the tasting bar is tucked in the back, not even visible from the front door.  On top of that, the location of the winery is less than ideal.  Its right on the road of Route 66, which is a very busy road.  Usually you go to a winery for some relaxation and the  peace…if that’s what you’re looking for, don’t go to Arrigoni.

OK, so we’ve covered the atmosphere…on to the wine.  I suppose if the wine was good we’d be able to forget the atmosphere (after a glass or two).  But unfortunately the wine was also no bueno.  My sister decided it would be best if we made our way to another winery in the area…the only problem was that there are no other wineries in the area!  So, we made an hour trek to New Hartford where we did find a few others.

The thing I found most off-putting about Arrigoni is that they don’t have any wine that they make from their own grapes.  None.  Not even one.  Ok, I get it, we don’t live in Napa Valley, and I know that most wineries in Connecticut only make a select few wines from their own grapes, whereas most others are made from grapes (or other fruit) that is imported.  But come on, if you’re a winery on the CT wine trail, you should have at least one wine to offer that is made from your own home-grown grapes!  Am I right?  In their defense, apparently they are so new that their grapes are just not ready yet.  That’s fine, but maybe you consider that and stay off “the trail” until you’re ready!

The Vineyard

The Vineyard – with the premature grapes

The wine that we eventually poured back into the bottle and moved on...

The wine that we eventually poured back into the bottle and moved on…

This is how Katie felt about Arrigoni

This is how Katie felt about Arrigoni

Sisters

Sisters

I forced Kate to get in this picture with me, but I think secretly she's happy she did. :)

I forced Kate to get in this picture with me, but I think secretly she’s happy she did. 🙂

I also forced Kate to get in this picture.  She refused to hold the wine bottle as well, but I put it in front of the barrel.  Who's laughing now??

I also forced Kate to get in this picture. She refused to hold the wine bottle as well, but I put it in front of the barrel.
Who’s laughing now??

 

 

 

 

A Beautiful Day for a Glass of Wine


Along on our voyage, Taz and I stopped at Priam Vineyards, which is part of the CT Wine Trail, thus, part of my Bucket List for 2013.  Since it was very close to the hikes I was doing that day, I decided I may as well knock that out at the same time.  We needed a break between hikes, we were due for a snack, and we were parched!  I really like this vineyard because it’s really dog friendly.  Taz, of course, did not come inside while I did the tasting, but that only took about 5 – 10 minutes, so I left him in the car to relax (and by relax I mean I let him freak out, thinking that I have left him for life) for a minute.  A  young guy guided me through the tasting.  I have actually been to this vineyard before with my sister and bestie.  Funny story:  it was at this vineyard that my sister told me and Liz that she “doesn’t even like wine”…oh how times have changed since then.

Address: 11 Shailor Hill Rd  Colchester, CT 06415 (860) 267-8520

Cost For Tasting:  $7 – $14.  For $7 you get a smaller glass and less variety of wine, for $14 you get a larger glass as well as a bigger variety of wines to taste. (It’s worth it for the larger glass – the small glass is kind of dinky and isn’t what you’d want to drink wine out of at home.  The larger one is really pretty and has a nice shape).

Ranking:  $10!!  The staff is SUPER NICE and friendly, and the vineyard itself is dog friendly!  Awesome!

How the tasting works at Priam is that there are 2 “levels”  of tasting.  (apparently there are actually 3 levels, per the website, but I was only offered two, so that’s all I’m going to talk about).  So Level one included a smaller glass and only a couple wines for $7, and level two included a larger wine glass and more of a selection.  I did level 2, but only because I did level two before, and this wine glass is my favorite, so I reallllyyyy wanted another one.   My favorite was the Blackledge Rose’.  I ended up buying a bottle, and I was happy about this particular purchase because this certain wine donates 15% of all proceeds to the Backus Hospital Breast Cancer Survivors Fund.  It also won the Bronze Medal at the 2013 International Easter Wine Competition!  Yumm!

I liked all the wine.  I feel like I’m actually learning things from going to these vineyards because I actually could pull out the flavors in the wine’s description many times before actually reading it.  How pretentious is that?  Anyways.  I was going to get a glass and go sit outside with Taz and have our snack, but I got talked into a bottle because a glass was $10 and a bottle was $17…so for only $7 more I got 3 more glasses.  Don’t worry, I only drank one glass there, but I’m sure the rest will not go to waste!  We sat for a little bit, then walked around the grounds and took some pictures, since it was a beautiful day!

This truck is on the corner of the street you have to turn onto to get to the vineyard - You can't miss it!

This truck is on the corner of the street you have to turn onto to get to the vineyard – You can’t miss it!

Welcome Sign

Welcome Sign

Sign directing you to the Tasting Room.  (I probably could have figured it out on my own, but it's always good to get extra guidance!)

Sign directing you to the Tasting Room. (I probably could have figured it out on my own, but it’s always good to get extra guidance!)

Inside the tasting room - all the wines and awards!

Inside the tasting room – all the wines and awards!

A view from the picnic table I was sitting at up on the hill of the back of the vineyard's tasting room and patio.

A view from the picnic table I was sitting at up on the hill of the back of the vineyard’s tasting room and patio.

Blackledge Rose' - Delicious!

Blackledge Rose’ – Delicious!

Taz in front of the vineyard - not too many grapes yet...hopefully the weather will warm up soon!!

Taz in front of the vineyard – not too many grapes yet…hopefully the weather will warm up soon!!

Devil’s Hopyard, East Haddam, CT


Over this past weekend, me and Taz went on a nice hike over at Devils Hopyard State Park in East Haddam, CT.  The park was significantly further from my house than I expected.  For some reason I thought it was only about 25 minutes away, but really, it was an hour.  boooo.  Anyways, it was absolutely gorgeous out, about 50 degrees without a cloud in the sky.  Of course, being me, I always wish for it to be warmer, but hey, at least the sun was shining.

I had some major issues with this hike, which I’m sure does not come as a surprise.  I started out on the Orange trail (which for some reason in my head I thought was the Yellow trail, which could have been part of the problem), and things were going well for a while, but after I hit the scenic overlook (see pic below), things got hairy and I got lost.  Must have been those devils in the hopyard.  Anyways, Taz and I were hoping all over the dang yard…we kept thinking we were back on the path, but then the path would disappear again and we were basically just walking through the woods.

Eventually I came to this road, and decided to it was in my best interest to walk back on the street…We had already walked about an hour and a half to two hours and we had 2 more stops on our Sunday Funday Adventure before going home…and the way this was going, it really could have taken all day!  All in all, we had a great time though, see for yourself:

Taz posing by the State Park Sign.  What a handsome fellow

Taz posing by the State Park Sign. What a handsome fellow

Me and Taz taking a quick scenery break

Me and Taz taking a quick scenery break

Waterfall along the way

Waterfall along the way

Me and Taz at the waterfall.  He was a bit stressed.  I think it was probably because he fall in a waterfall as a puppy and was having terrifying fashbacks.  He was willing to take a quick picture near the falls, but only one! haha

Me and Taz at the waterfall. He was a bit stressed. I think it was probably because he fall in a waterfall as a puppy and was having terrifying fashbacks. He was willing to take a quick picture near the falls, but only one! haha

Bucket List: Case Mountain


Growing up around the corner from Case Mountain, in Manchester, CT, I can easily say that I’ve hiked there hundreds of times in my life.  Since this is one of the hikes on my Bucket Lists’ 50 Hikes in CT I decided this would be the perfect time to put a different spin on the hike.  Those of you who live in Connecticut know that the state has been closed down for the weekend but for those of you who don’t, we got between 24 – 40 inches that got dumped on us, depending on where you live, and it has really put a damper on this weekend’s activities!

snowshoes

I was actually supposed to do this hike with my pops yesterday, but unfortunately the roads were still impassable, so we couldn’t go.  I did go today, though, and was able to convince my seester to come with me.  Let me tell you – if you’ve never been snow-shoeing, it ain’t as easy as it looks.  We started out on the Carriage Trail and were the first people to pass this trail.  With over 2 feet of snow on the trail, it was ridiculously hard, especially going up hill.

Me and Taz towards the beginning of the hike

Me and Taz towards the beginning of the hike

We took turns being “the leader”, as the leader was basically doing all the hard work and the follower was basically just stepping in the other’s footprints.  When we were just about to hit the summit, we noticed that the Blue Trail, which also leads to the summitt, was packed down from fellow snow-shoe-ers. Since we had already spent over two grueling hours trudging through the deep snow, we decided to take this already-blazed trail.

Kate on the trail

Kate on the trail

Seriously, it was touch and go there for a while.  At one point I even said out loud – and completely seriously – “This must be what its like to climb Mount Everest”, OK, maybe I’m a little dramatic, but seriously, It was tough.  I guess it didn’t make it any easier for me that I fell more times than I’d like to admit.  Take it from me, if you fall, while wearing snow shoes, into 2.5 feet of snow, it’s not so easy getting up-especially when you have a dog that is trying to “help” you.  Katie didn’t have this problem, but watching me go through this process time and time again was all the motivation she needed to make sure she did not have the same fate as me.

Me and Taz towards the beginning of the hike

Me and Taz on the trail – getting tired!!

We were ecstatic to reach the top – we didn’t die!  Saa-weeettt! #bestworkoutever!

Me and my sister, Kate

Me and my sister, Kate

A hike that normally takes about an hour took us just over 2.5 hours, but it was an excellent workout, which is EXACTLY what we needed after been cooped up inside for the last 48 hours eating, drinking, and basically being lazy.   I’m so happy that I was able to get at least one productive thing done this weekend, and another check off my bucket list!  Hopefully some of you were able to do something fun through Nemo!

Advice from the Midwest


This will conclude my Iowan posts, but it may be the most important as it is a list of practical, unsolicited advice I received from my gramps over my three day visit. He’s been around the block a few times and I thought I should share these valuable tidbits with the rest of you! Also,even if you choose not to follow advice, there’s not harm in hearing it!

Never order Orange Juice Ina restaurant. Drink a glass before you go out. It’s far to expensive in restaurants. You gotta conserve where ya can!

Remember to give to charities. Donating to charities repents for a multitude of sins,

That being said…

Don’t donate more than you can afford because those who give all their money to the poor will soon live among them.

Make your will.

I’m only 26 and have about. $150 to my name but I was instructed to create my will ASAP because in the unfortunate occurrence of my untimely death, that $150 will definitely create rifts among my surviving family. I think I’m gonna let that one marinate for a few years, but its definitely something to keep in mind!

Don’t drink too much, smoke,or do drugs.

Yes, this is pretty much common sense, but nonetheless, good advice!

Become a Republican.

This is coming from the man who now takes his hearing aide out while his priest gives sermons because when my grandfather asked if it was a sin to Vote Democratic, the priest said “no”. “I can still hear the sermon,” my grandfather claims, “I just do it to prove my point.” Touché. (I think I’ll leave this one on the burner,as I don’t care to talk politics. I just can’t get over how comical that story is!)

My Prince Charming


I not-so-recently broke it off with a long time bow, and while usually my grandpa gives me grief about not being married in my old age of 26. Assuring me that all the good men are taken by my age and I’m going to grow old as an old maid. For whatever reason he had a change of heart while I was visiting last weekend. On my last night in Iowa, my grandpa calls me into the back room where he’s listening to his right-wing radio program and playing solitaire. He tells me he has news for me. As we sat there talking, he told me he had a vision of me working my second job, waitressing, and this guy comes in “he’ll be 33 or 34 with dark hair, with some prematurely gray poking through. He has a thin mustache. You are going to see each other and…boom (makes a shooting arrow jester) that little guy will poke you both with the arrow at the same time”.

As I said goodbye the next morning he gave me a hug and kiss and ended his goodbye by saying “he might not have a mustache, I haven’t decided yet.” Hmm…I’m not sure how accurately that story will pan out, but I will tell you one thing, it makes me more excited to go to work tonight! Who knows, maybe the old man is right, and my next trip to Iowa won’t be alone 😉

83 and Counting


One thing that is very important to me is family. A couple things to know about my family. 1. My family isn’t very big compared to most; 2. That doesn’t make it any easier to see and keep in touch with everyone. My immediate family lives in CT, but my extended family ranges from Ohio, to New York, to Texas and Iowa. I try to see, talk to, and write letters to my family as much as possible because if you dont make the effort to get to know your family while they are around, when will you ever get to know them?! (Slid logic, right?) I was able to make it out to Iowa this past weekend for a long weekend to visit with my grandpa, grandma and uncles, and it was awesome because I also got to celebrate my grandpa’s 83rd Birthday!! My grandpa kept saying he was glad I was there to celebrate his last birthday, but he’s been saying that for about 10 years now. So at this point he’s really not foolin anyone.

When I arrived on his birthday-eve we celebrated with his first cake. Yes, there were multiple cakes. I ate more care this weekend than I have in the past couple years…huh? What diet!? Then,the next morning, on his birthday we got up and left for breakfast at Sunshine. Sunshine is his Cheers…but better. He walks in and everyone knows his name. No, not just his name, also his order, down to the the nitty details of his strict diet and the fact that he drinks cola, not coffee, even at 9AM. We met up with a couple of his friends for breakfast, but even had we gone alone, we wouldn’t be lonely. Just about every table in the joint got up and came over to say hello at some point during the meal. Seriously, the man is a small-town celeb!

After breakfast we came home, watched some old-timey black and white movies and later in the afternoon my uncles braved the ice storm happening outside to come over for a birthday pizza party and, you guessed it, more cake. Having everyone together is a riot. My grandpa brings up for the millionth time “ok just tell me, who stole my car”. He’s talking about something that happened about 45 years ago, FYI,…then cracks himself up while quoting Hillary “after all this time, what difference does it make??” It really is quite entertaining!

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Starting at top left and going clockwise: Dubuque, IA monument in downtown, My Grandpa Joe, Grandma Rita and Me, My Grandpa with his birthday cards, Sunshine Restaurant, Me and My Uncle Mike (no he’s not really that short, he was scrunching down because my gram said his head wasn’t in the picture) hehe

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