Holiday Spirits in the Litchfield Hills Last Updated 12/20
What better way to get into the holiday spirit than with...holiday spirits? It’s the perfect time to venture out and discover Connecticut’s growing number of next-generation craft distilleries, wineries and breweries which are gaining followings and racking up awards. Many are right here in the Litchfield Hills, offering on-site tours and tastings. Some serve upscale fare to elevate the experience. You’ll find many of them on the Connecticut Spirits Trail; just be sure to check their websites before you go, as hours and offerings may change due to COVID-19.
In Litchfield, Haight-Brown Vineyards, Connecticut’s first established winery in the state, grows vinifera and hybrids including Chardonnay, Chardonelle, Marechal Foch, De Chaunac, Marquette, and Seyval Blanc. Not just a winery, they also offer a variety of classes, host and participate in events throughout the year.
Aquila’s Nest Vineyards in Newtown is the newest winery to open in our region. The name draws its meaning from the Mediterranean culture, family origins and personal interests of the vineyards' owners. This 40-acre estate provides visitors with immersive experiences that embrace each of the five senses. The focus is on offering a selection of the finest Connecticut grown wines while connecting visitors to the breathtaking scenery of northern Fairfield County. Tours are available by appointment. Outdoor seating with fire pits and space heaters keep sippers toasty as they savor these wonderful new wines.
Located in Danbury the Charter Oak Brewing Company is a craft brewery specializing in beers for northeast drinkers. The brewery has a passion for and commitment to brewing only the most flavorful beer with the freshest barley, choice hops and the purest water – in small batches to ensure the freshest beer possible. The styles range from six flagship year-round brands: Wadsworth India Pale Ale, Royal Charter Pale Ale, 1687 Brown Ale, Stubborn Yankee Lager, and their newest Little Charter Session IPA, as well as more complex and robust seasonal brews – plus a wide variety of rotating special releases. Visit the taproom and grab a pint, growler or keg – or a six-pack of newly-released cans!
In 1978, accomplished medical doctor and wine maker, Paul DiGrazia (1932-2019), planted 45 acres of grapes in Brookfield. In 1984, DiGrazia Vineyards and Winery opened with an initial release of four wines. Today, over 15 estate bottled table wines are available, from dry to sweet, including a no-sulfite wine, late harvest, pumpkin wines, white and ruby ports, as well as Connecticut-grown blueberry and pear dessert wines. Check out DiGrazia Vineyards for their unusual and innovative wine-making flair.
The Litchfield Distillery makes its home in an old knitting factory in the northwestern Litchfield Hills. Specializing in exceptionally distilled spirits handcrafted from the highest quality, regionally harvested grains and ingredients, their “Batchers’” series includes five handcrafted, premium spirits: Bourbon Whiskey, Double Barreled Bourbon Whiskey, Bourbon Whiskey Port Cask Finish, Vodka and Gin. The bourbon and gin were awarded silver medals in the 2016 World Spirits competition. Tours and tastings are on hold for now due to COVID-19, but you can still visit their distillery store and order online. The distillery asks that customers order ahead.
Hawk Ridge Winery in Watertown is NOT your father’s vineyard; although when you tell him about it, it will be. How does an Apple Caramel Wine Slushy topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce sound? What about a Smooth Landing Rosé infused with edible glitter? And just because they are innovative doesn’t mean they aren’t serious winemakers. The Giannetto and McHugh families are extremely proud of their award-winning wines, currently offering a selection of 8 Reds, 9 Whites, two Rosé and a Port; and have won medals through the Amenti del Vino international competition as well as the American Wine Society. Did we mention their delectable menu of go-with plates to accompany their wine tastings? You might enjoy their oven-roasted, Twisted 2 Fisted gigantic pretzel, brushed with butter, topped with sea salt and served with their famous Hawk Ridge cabernet cheese dip and a side of savory mustard sauce. For now, reservations-only for inside visits.
Mine Hill Distillery in Roxbury is brimming with a rich history dating back to 1872 and is truly a 19th century landmark destination. Founder Elliott Davis instilled a dedication to craftsmanship, authenticity and Yankee ingenuity; and pride in sourcing their grains locally and using their own spring water to create spirits with a sense of place and Still Made in Connecticut.™ Their Classic Dry Gin is crafted with the unique addition of eastern white pine and other botanicals inspired by the fields and forests around Mine Hill to achieve a spicy earthiness and a smooth finish. Their Classic Vodka is distilled from their own wheat base in a single run to achieve a clean, crisp character inspired by the waterfall at Mine Hill.
“Brew with Wonder, Drink with Joy” pretty much sums it up at Nod Hill Brewery in Ridgefield, founded in 2017 by David and Robert Kaye, Kyle Acenowr and Sarah Zitnay. They strive to craft expressive, balanced and unique hop-forward American ales, traditionally-minded European styles and both clean and mixed fermentation oak-aged beers. The facility is 100% solar powered. The Taproom and Biergarten are temporarily closed; but they are open for retail to-go sales.