Having finally finished writing up my notes from my various summer excursions, it’s time to turn our attention back to Connecticut. I’m actually getting very close to completing my tour of Connecticut Wineries.
I started out following the Connecticut Wine Trail – first the wineries of the Western Trail situated primarily in the Litchfield Hills, and then on the Eastern Trail where most of the wineries fall along the coast. Along the way I discovered that the Connecticut Wine Trail is not comprehensive – in fact, there are about 10 wineries in the state that aren’t listed on the Wine Trail. Turns out, inclusion on the wine trail requires a monthly membership fee, one which some of the newer and smaller wineries have opted not to pay at this point.
That’s the case for today’s winery, Cassidy Hill Vineyard. During general conversation, I learned that membership in the Connecticut Wine Trail runs about $200 per month, and in Cassidy Hill’s case, they weren’t yet convinced that the Wine Trail website drove enough extra traffic to member wineries to justify the expense. All wineries, whether they are part of the Wine Trail or not, are listed as part of the Connecticut Farm Trust and included in the Passport program which the Trust runs every year. Which also explains why there were more than 30 wineries listed in the 2009 Passport but only 26 listed on the Wine Trail website.
Located in Coventry, Connecticut – about 20 minutes from Hartford and close to the University of Connecticut’s main campus at Storrs, Cassidy Hill is tucked away down a long country road. Surrounded by farmland and vineyards, the tasting room and winery is a log-cabin inspired building with a shape that evokes the tobacco barns that still dot the central areas of the state. A long patio stretches 1/2 way along the front of the building and has outdoor seating for a good 10-15 people.
Inside the space is light and airy with wood-paneled walls, high oak beams along the ceiling and a welcoming mix of comfortable chairs and bistro tables for guests who want to relax and stay awhile. A large L-shaped bar is tucked into the back corner of the main room; the bar could hold 12-15 people and the tables set up around the room could easily hold another 30 or so. That afternoon I had managed to entice Christy back onto the wine trail with me, and as we entered we greeted by a very friendly staff who, despite the fact that they were fairly busy that afternoon gave us the option of having our tasting at the bar or at one of the tables. That was a pleasant surprise – many of the other wineries aren’t able to accomodate tastings at the tables unless the winery is absolutely dead that afternoon. But not only was it an option, but the staff was able to keep up with the demand and as far as I could see no one had to wait long in between the individual pourings.
The afternoon we visited the tasting menu included 6 wines, 3 whites, 1 blush and 2 reds. The tasting, which includes all six wines, is $5 and you can purchase the logo glass for an additional $3. Glasses of wine are $5 and the the winery provides a 10% discount on a case of wine. For details about the wines we tasted that afternoon, check back here on Christmas Eve.
Since we’ve stopped by in early September, they’ve added some new wines to their menu, including a Late Harvest Vidal, and have 3 new wines scheduled for 2010 release. Definitely worth a trip back, particularly given Coventry is practically my backyard!
If you’re planning a trip to Cassidy Hill, I also recommend a stop at Dmitri’s restaurant, also in Coventry – a Greek-American bistro, it’s quickly become one of my favorite restaurants in Connecticut, and they have the best gyros I’ve had outside of Chicago’s Greektown. If you’re coming from Hartford or points west, Dmitri’s is right on the way.
Look for “The Wines of Cassidy Hill” here at Vino Verve on 12/24.
Cassidy Hill Vineyard
454 Cassidy Hill Road
Coventry, Connecticut 06238
Tasting Room Hours: Friday, Saturday, Sunday 11:00 am – 5:00 pm