This weekend has been absolutely GORGEOUS! This is unusual for me to say in the middle of January, since it’s cold and I’m a huge wimp when it comes to anything under 50 degrees, but I was definitely able to see the bright side this weekend as I did lots of walks, hikes, and wine tastes! Yesterday was an all-out adventure day for me and Taz and we had a fabulous time! We decided to knock of some Bucket List tasks, and I thought I could use some alone time. With the holidays, traveling and working a ton I don’t get too much of it. Trust me, I’m not complaining in the least – I LOVE being around people, but sometimes it’s nice to have a day for yourself!
We started out at Mount Tom, in New Preston, CT. This is, obviously, one of the hikes in my “50 Hikes in Connecticut” book, and I haven’t been there yet mainly because it’s about an hour and a half from where I live. I got there, and was shocked that I was the only one there (come on people! get off your couch and enjoy the wilderness!)! The trails were covered in snow and there wasn’t great markings on the trees, so after taking one trail to a dead ends, I decided to roll the dice and follow the path that had footsteps on it in the snow, hoping that it would lead to the famous tower at the top of the mountain. Though this hike was very short (just over a mile long) I thought it was great because of the 35 ft tower at the top that is open for people to climb and see amazing views of Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York! As can you can (kind of ) see from my picture below, the wooden steps inside the tower are narrow and extremely steep. Taz, who was not on a leash hung out at the bottom while I climbed to the top to snap a few pics, but got impatient quickly and climbed his way to the top as well…big mistake. Once he got to the top, he was terrified to try to go back down, and I can’t really say I blame him. I’m afraid of heights and wasn’t crazy about the idea myself. The top 4 steps are exposed and in addition to being very steep, they were also covered with about an inch of packed down snow and ice. After about 15 minutes of a pep talk, he finally agreed to carefully make his way down the steps. He was very brave. In addition to the actual hike, there is also a pond on the premise, Mt Tom Pond, where there was an ice fishing derby going on! I’m not an avid ice fisher or anything, but I have been ice fishing a couple times with my bestie Stef and her crew in VT and I got excited seeing this derby because I know just how fun ice fishing can be!
From Mount Tom, our next stop was Hopkins Vineyard Winery. This was a predetermined stop because both this winery and Mount Tom are close to each other, but not near anything else…literally. I figured, while I’m out in the boonies I mineaswell kill two birds with one stone, right?
Address: 25 Hopkins Road Warren, CT 06777 (860) 868-7954
Cost for a tasting: $7.50 for a regular tasting of 7 wines (6 are already chosen, and you get to choose you’re 7th), then for an additional $2.50, you can sample their “ice wine”. (this also includes their signature glass).
Ranking: 8 (in addition to the tasting room, there is also outdoor seating and an “wine bar” upstairs from the vineyard! Awesome!
I really enjoyed this vineyard. The inside is very nice, and the staff was extremely nice and knowledgable. Most of their wines are “Estate Bottled” which means that the grapes are grown on the premise and the entire wine making process happens there! The one wine that I loved was “Peach Wine”. The wine itself was made from fermented peaches, whereas most wines are made from grapes. I thought this was really interesting…and even more delicious! And, at $13.50, I thought it was only right to buy a bottle for a later date! As far as my tasting, of course I had upgraded to the “ice wine”. I’ve never had it before, and since this specific ice wine has won multiple international medals, including the “Finger Lakes International Wine Competition” (the Finger Lakes area has a HUGE wine country, so this is a big deal), I thought I better cover my bases and try it. My wine connoisseur also had me try a sip of their “Night Owl Dessert Wine”. It was probably because he was bored because no one else was there, but hey, I’ll take it. While we were talking, he mentioned to me the Litchfield Hills Winter Wine Trail. Its similar to the Wine Passport Program, but there is only 6 vineyards on it and it has to be completed between December 1 – April 1. Cool, I’m sold on the idea! After the tasting, Taz and I took a nice long walk around the vineyard. It was a gorgeous day, and the vineyard was beautiful, so we walked around their 38 acres for about and hour and took in the fresh air and magnificent views.
After Hopkins, we were on our way home, when I saw a blue “CT Wine Trail” sign. I thought to myself…I would be stupid NOT to stop. Afterall, it was only about 3:30PM and I had no immediate plans to tend to! So I followed the sign, not knowing where it would take me, and before I knew it I landed at Haight-Brown Vineyard.
Address: 29 Chestnut Hill Rd Litchfield, CT 06759 (860) 567-4045
Cost for a tasting: $9, which includes 9 wines and a signature glass.
Ranking: 6.5 (this vineyard was overly crowded and does not allow outside food to come in.)
I walked into the vineyard and was initally turned off. To be honest, I almost walked right back out. It was very pretty insides, but it was so packed you couldn’t even more. In fact, I had to put my name on the waiting list!! Since I was alone, they were able to squeeze me in at the counter pretty quickly, but sheesh! Once the tasting started, my wine connoisseur was telling me about the wines and about the vineyard itself. Haight-Brown, founded in 1976 is actually the first vineyard/winery in Connecticut, and the ONLY one that has stools to sit on while you do the tasting. The reason for this is that they got grandfathered in with the stools. Other wineries cannot have them because it changes the winery from a “wine tasting” to a “bar”…details, details. As I started observing my surroundings, I noticed something that caught my eye, the “Honey Nut Apple” wine. Over the summer one of my best friends went to the vineyard and brought this bottle home and we drank it together as a regular white wine, where it really should be drank in small quantities as a dessert wine…whoops! haha. I enjoyed the wine here, but more than that I enjoyed the people I met! Carol and David, who found this winery the same way I did, were from New York and were probably in their late 50’s. They were super nice and we chatted for about an hour, until I was ready to go. Again after this vineyard, Taz and I took a walk around their beautiful property (which included plenty of outdoor seating for the warmer wether, and enjoyed the last bit of daylight before our trek home.
I guess all in all you can say it was a successful day! Not only did I cross THREE items off my bucket list, but I also spent a beautiful day outside enjoying the nice weather, with my dog, and got to try some amazing wine while I was at it! I’m pretty sure Taz had a great time too, minus the heart attack at the top of the Mount Tom Tower, because when I was ready to leave my parent’s house last night, he was sitting outside in the dark cold next to my car hoping I’d bring him home with me! 🙂