As I’m closing in on my goal of visiting, at least once, every winery in Connecticut, I stopped recently at Holmberg Orchards in Gales Ferry to sample their fruit wines and ciders.
A fourth-generation family-owned working farm, Holmberg Orchards has been around since 1896, first as a vegetable farm, and then in the latter half of the 20th century moving to Orchards and fruit. The winery opened in 2007 producing fruit wines and ciders. The winery has done so well that the family planted their first grape vines in 2010 to expand their wine menu and harvested their first crop of Pinot Blanc in 2011.
In addition to the winery, Holmberg Orchards has pick-you-own fruit orchards, a bakery and a small retail shop that sits directly on the main road at the foot of a small hill leading back to the wine barn, a small small wooden cabin-like structure that sits at the front of the orchards.
The interior of the barn is cool and uncluttered – the space is dominated by a U-shaped tasting bar which occupies the middle of the room. There’s space around the edges of the room for people to move around each other, but not much space for mingling – on busy days, I imagine the overfill simply forms a line out the door. While there are no tables and chairs set up inside the wine barn, there’s a deck off to one side of the structure and plenty of open space on the lawns for those who want to bring a picnic lunch, grab a bottle of wine or cider, and spend a relaxing afternoon in the shade of the Orchards.
And if you didn’t bring a picnic lunch, a short drive or walk back down the gravel-lined lane brings you back to the farm store which has a great selection of vegetables, sandwiches, and other foodstuffs, much of it made or grown locally either by Holmberg Orchards or local farmers. While I didn’t stay for the entire afternoon, I did stop at the farm store, picking up some fresh locally-grown sweet corn and a freshly made tomato-spinach-feta quiche which was melt-in-your-mouth good ~ one of the best quiches I’ve ever had in my life.
The winery is open from May 1st through the first weekend in November, Saturdays and Sundays 12-5. Tastings are $6 and include the entire wine menu: four wines and three ciders served in a souvenir wine glass. Gales Ferry is only minutes away from the two casinos, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, and close to the Mystic/Stonington area and the wineries in the southeast corner of the state.
Holmberg Orchards Winery
12 Orchards Lane
Gales Ferry, CT