“Women Winemakers of Connecticut Collaborate to Create a New Culture” – The American Wine Society Journal

Thank you to the American Wine Society for featuring my article about the Women Winemakers of Connecticut! We truly appreciate your support and look forward to collaborating more in the future ❤ #GirlsMakeWineToo #GirlPower

Read more below on how you can join the American Wine Society! 🙂

 

What is the American Wine Society?

A non-profit, educational, consumer-oriented organization for those interested in learning more about all aspects of wine.

What are the benefits of joining the AWS?

The AWS is all about making wine knowledge exciting and fun!

Members explore wine together, through relaxed chapter tastings, a magazine, national tasting events and much more. The AWS has a great rep in the wine industry, with remarkable relationships with winemakers, wineries and wine-related businesses around the globe that give members access to incredible wines and experiences.

When you join get excited for…

How can you join the American Wine Society?  

Click HERE for Membership info

Personally, I can’t wait for the Riedel – The Wine Glass Company Tasting this weekend with the American Wine Society, Hartford, CT Chapter!! If you are in the Connecticut area and would like more information about the AWS and how to join feel free to email me at threadsandvino@gmail.com. I hope you join this great organization and look forward to seeing you at the next event. Cheers! 🙂

Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery Wine & Tapas Pairing Dinner at Pacífico Restaurant in New Haven, CT

I am a BIG fan of the Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery (as you’ve probably already noticed). They are an amazing family bringing delicious wines to their community. It’s not uncommon for you to see the newest addition to the family, Marcelo Jr, running around the tasting room greeting customers. You’ll probably also spy their very own winery dog Otis greeting patrons while they take in the vineyard sites. So when I heard about their wine and food pairing dinner I knew I had to check it out.

When you walk into Pacífico restaurant you are surrounded by an instant glow of chill, beautiful, Latino vibes. From the decor to the menu you are transported to another world that encourages you to relax and enjoy the Pacífico experience.

Everyone who attended the event was greeted by winery owners Margaret and Marcelo. Margaret’s father is one of the original founders of Paradise Hills. It was great to see the next generation taking a commanding role in the winemaking and winery business. They both took the time to come over and speak to each table about the food and wine they were being served. And the pairings were amazing!

First we started off with a “Ceviche de Atun” – Yellowfin tuna ceviche, mango, pineapple, red onions, and citrus juices. This course was paired with their 2015 Washington Trail White Wine, an estate grown Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc blend. The combination of the ceviche and wine evoked bright flavors on your palate – a refreshing and tantalizing way to start off the wine and food pairing dinner.

The second course was a Pork Tenderloin with sugar cane skewers and roasted corn chimichurri paired with the Nostra Tradizione. The Nostra Tradizione is one of my all time favorites! The pork and wine worked perfectly together thanks to a little bit of extra spice on the palate with notes of strawberry and cherry. This wine can definitely handle a bold dish.

The third course was a Pan Seared Sea Bass perched atop a mound of couscous, with sweet plantains, roasted pepper, orange, and coconut jalepeno ginger mojo. This was paired with their 2016 Sauvignon Blanc –  which *Spoiler Alert* –  is a limited edition vintage released on April 25th! Make sure to get your hands on this wine before it’s too late. The Sauvignon Blanc is like summer in a glass, and paired with the sea bass was knock out of a combination. Talk about bright citrus flavors merging with a little spice and salt. Super delicious.

The forth course was a Grilled Skirt Steak with yucca fries and aji amarillo chimichurri paired with the 2015 President’s Choice – a Bordeaux Style Red Wine. My goodness was this awesome! The President’s choice is the Winemaker’s Private Blend (not even some of the family know what is in the blend!). Accompanied by the steak, the flavor explosion in your mouth was insane. Blackberry, currants, black cherry, and cedar woke up your palate. This wine was definitely worth the wait.

The fifth and final course consisted of a Passion Fruit Flan and Paradise’s 2015 Connecticut Cayuga White Wine. Another bold pairing of flavor. The passion fruit was ignited even more by the bright citrus and crisp acidity of the estate-grown Cayuga. An insanely delicious dessert pairing.

I couldn’t get over how well everything was paired and how each course pairing got better and better. It was clear that both Paradise Hills and Pacífico Restaurant took a lot of time to make sure every course and wine complimented each other perfectly. I want to give a big Thank You to Margaret and Marcelo of Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery and Pacífico Restaurant for putting on this amazing event. I can’t wait to see what next year’s event will have in store for us!

Also, I want to give a shout out to Manny Vargas Photography for providing the incredible photos. He really captured the amazing ambiance and atmosphere.

Winery: Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery (Visit)

Location: 15 Wind Swept Hill Rd, Wallingford, CT, 06492

Tasting Hours: Monday-Saturday: 11am-8pm and Sunday: 11am-6pm. Please call to set up private/group tastings (Info)

Tasting Options: Tastings are $10/person for 6 pre-selected wines or $15.00/person for 6 pre-selected wines and a logo’d glass.

Purchase Wines from the Event: HERE

Event Location: Pacífico Restaurant (Visit)

Experience Paradise Vineyards & Winery:

When you visit Paradise Vineyards you are greeted by friendly tasting room representatives and a delicious list of 6 wines to enjoy. Most of the tasting room staff either works in the vineyard or in the winery. They are very fun and knowledgeable. No matter if you are new to wine or consider yourself a connoisseur you can always learn something new while enjoying a great glass of wine at Paradise Vineyards!

The tasting room is cozy and inviting. There is a roaring fireplace in the winter time you can snuggle up to, or when the weather is warmer you can  sit out on their patio overlooking the vines.

PS- Check out more more photos from the event below and more information about Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery! Cheers! 🙂

SkinnyPop, Paradise Hills Vineyard, & Scandal = The Perfect Thursday Night Pairing


il_fullxfull-752341730_2ec7

{card via nocturnalpaper}

In honor of my obsession with Scandal I wanted to put together a “Netflix & Chill” kind of post Olivia might be proud of. So I decided to pair some of our local CT Wine Trail wines with SkinnyPop popcorn (because it’s my fave). Olivia is always pairing her vino and popcorn no matter if she’s happy or sad. So I thought, why not pair her two of her favorite things and watch her kick butt in DC? #Wouldn’tOliviaPopeDoThis?

Below are some of my favorite pairings from Paradise Hills Vineyard & Winery in Wallingford, CT. Maragret Ruggiero Mena, the Owner & Winemaker at Paradise, was kind enough to sit down with me and test out these pairings. Needless to say it was a fun Tuesday night 😉

Jalapeño SkinnyPop & The Washington Trail White:

img_9175-3

The Washington Trail White is a lovely fruit forward, medium bodied wine with notes of crisp apples, bright citrus, and soft fruity flavors with a delicate off-dry finish. The bright acidity brings out the jalapeño flavor in tasty and balanced way. The low alcohol and balanced residual sugar/acidity offsets the spicy burn. This is a great pairing for someone who has a spicier palate.

Washington Trail White: $19.98/bottle

SkinnyPop Jalapeño: $13.86 for a 12 pack

Original Style SkinnyPop & Temptation Apple Wine:

img_9177-3

The Temptation Apple wine is a semi-sweet wine made from 100% Connecticut Grown Apples. The crisp acidity from the wine balances out the “cheesey” notes of the Original SkinnyPop flavor. A delicious pairing for a sweet little girls night in.

Temptation Apple Wine: $15.50/bottle

Original Style SkinnyPop: $16.82/ 6 pack

Sea Salt & Pepper SkinnyPop and Trio Blend: 

img_9179-3

Paradise’s “International Style” is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Carmenere. The elegant creamy mouthfeel stands up to the pepper and sea salt, creating a rich and flavorful compliment. Personally this is my favorite pairing because of the flavor explosion that happens between the pepper and fruit. I highlight recommend this pairing for anyone who loves a good steak with a Cabernet.

Trio Blend: $27.50/bottle

Sea Salt & Pepper Popcorn: $25.99/ 6 pack

White Cheddar SkinnyPop and Nostrada Tradizione:

img_9180-3

The Nostradamus Tradizione is a Chianti Style wine, so naturally matching this blend with a cheesy popcorn is a delicious combination. The acidity in the wine offsets the creamy cheese notes balancing out your palate with well rounded flavors. Hints of cherry and raspberry are complimented by the creamy white cheddar notes.

Nostradamus Tradizione: $27.50/bottle

White Cheddar: $20.45/ 6 pack

So there you have it! Lots of delicious combinations from one of my favorite CT Wineries and SkinnyPop popcorn. Thank you Olivia Pope, Kerri Washington, and the Scandal team for introducing me to this amazing food group. And Thank you to Margaret from Paradise Hills Winery for not thinking I was totally crazy for pairing her delicious wines with popcorn!

Other Wine & Popcorn Pairings Chart via SkinnyPop popcorn:

skinnypop-wine-2

Women Winemakers of CT Featured in Winemaker Magazine

Finally! Now everyone can access our article in Winemaker Magazine! So excited to have been able to create this article and highlight these amazing winemaking ladies.

14317537_1101948256565032_14429862775373760_n

Check out what The Women Winemakers of Connecticut are all about HERE. You will probably see some familiar CT Wine Trail faces so make sure to support your local Winery and Winemaker. 🙂

12994359_1003373003089225_6206625515501241941_n-2

If you are interested in joining the Women Winemakers of Connecticut please contact me at cmusto@juicegrape.com.

13775824_1062746130485245_6605998096342230054_n

Cheers!

Winemaker Interview: Gouveia Vineyards

In this week’s “Winemaker Interview,” Maryann talks about how her Grandfather’s  winemaking influence and  her love and care for the vineyard help create delicious Connecticut wines at Gouviea Vineyards. 

Winemaker: Maryann Houde

Winery: Gouveia Vineyards (Visit)

Location: 1339 Whirlwind Hill Road, Wallingford, CT 06492

Tasting Hours: OPEN Monday – Saturday from 11:00AM-8:00PM, Sundays 11:00AM- 6:00PM

Tasting Options: Enjoy your wine with a view! 

Why did you become a winemaker? What first attracted you to winemaking? 

maryann in vineyard image

I’ve been making wine for 5 years. I wanted to follow the tradition of my grandfather. As a kid, I remember crushing grapes in the backyard and making wine in the cellar. This was very intriguing to me.

I have fond memories of Sunday dinners sitting around the table at my Noni and Papa’s house eating delicious pasta and sauce. My brother, sister and I were only kids but my grandfather would let us have a little wine mixed with soda. I remember how everyone wanted to nap after dinner!

How were you introduced to winemaking in Connecticut?

view of gouveia vineyards through the trees image

We had heard about a vineyard that just opened in Wallingford back in 2004 and my husband and I wanted to check it out. Gouveia Vineyards was the first vineyard we had ever gone to. We were amazed that this beauty was in our home town. I got a job in the tasting room in 2010 and that is where it all began for me.

What are the biggest challenges for a winemaker in Connecticut?

merlot grapes at gouveia image

I would say that most winemakers in CT have a hand in growing the grapes for their wine. Maintaining the vines that you grow on your own vineyard is very challenging due to the climate and susceptibility to disease.

What makes Connecticut wine so great? What makes CT wine so different?

The great thing about CT wine is that our vineyards and wineries grow and make wine from a lot of grape varietals that are different from other regions.

Tell us about your harvest process.

gouveia harvest grapes image

Towards the end of August we start checking sugars in the vineyard. This helps us to determing an estimate for harvest. We’re busy cleaning and tuning up our equipment. When the grapes are about 22 Brix, we pick a date, and we’ll put the word out and gather our team of volunteers to help us pick.

We start crushing the same day that we harvest. The grapes are trucked in from the field, weighed and go right into the crusher. The winemaking begins.

How does your wine making approach differ from other winemakers? What is your general winemaking philosophy?

Wine makes itself. You crush the grapes and they’re going to become wine one way or another, good or bad. I want to care for the vines as best we can during the growing season so when harvest comes, I can make sure the grapes become the best version of what they’re supposed to be.
A lot of times, the circumstances are not ideal in the vineyard or the cellar so you must work with what you have and not be afraid to take a different and sometimes unorthodox approach if necessary.

How do you know you’ve got a good vintage?

sunrise at gouveia image

I know the vintage is good when I see smiles on peoples faces who come and visit the winery. When I listen to their comments about the wine, and see how much they’re enjoying it, I know the vintage is good. If it’s making people happy, It’s a good vintage.

What is one aspect of your job that might surprise people?

How messy it is. You get dirty! It’s not uncommon to take the occasional wine shower!

What do you like best about your job?

seyval blanc

I like the variety. Everyday is something different. One day I could be in the vineyard, the next in the cellar and the next giving a wine tour and talking to customers.

What is your favorite wine that you’ve made and what makes it your favorite?

My favorite wine that I made is my 2012 Petite Syrah. It was the first year I made wine at home the old fashioned way. The grapes were stomped with our feet. It’s my favorite because my family made it together. It came out really nice, too.

Who are your favorite winemakers and why? OR What is your favorite wine and why?

I read the memoir of Robert Mondovi and that was very inspirational. He really forged the way for the California wine region. He was a risk taker and a visionary and wanted to make the best wine for every level of wine consumer. Through personal account, Joe Gouveia. I connect with his philosophy because it reminds me of the old-world style of winemaking back in the days of watching my grandfather crush grapes in his backyard.
You don’t need to do a lot to make a good wine.

Is beer ever better than wine?

Jesus didn’t turn water into beer…

I want to give a big Thank You to Maryann Houde from Gouveia Vineyards for giving us a peak into the day in life of a Connecticut Winemaker. Make sure to stop by Gouveia Vineyards in Wallingford, CT for some delicious wines made by a passionate Winemaker! #MyCTWineTrail #DrinkLocal

The Gouveia Vineyards Tasting Experience:

gouveia barrels

Visiting Gouveia Vineyards is like visiting your favorite mountain getaway. You enter the driveway and are immediately transported to a peaceful, beautiful, vineyard property with rolling hills and gorgeous views. The tasting room is open and airy creating a relaxing tasting experience. You can enjoy a tasting of 4 pre-selected wines and a fifth taste of your choice. Each tasting is $12.00/person and you can keep your wine glass.

Once you finish your tasting you can sit down and enjoy a bottle overlooking the vineyard or take your wine outside to the outdoor picnic area. Gouveia Vineyards is a great place for larger groups because they have a lot of space and allow you to bring food to their facility. Gouveia Vineyards is a great place to visit with family and friends. I hope you enjoy your tasting. Cheers!

 

Winemaker Interview: Chamard Vineyards

In this week’s “Winemaker Interview,” Kristen Parsons talks about how family tradition set her on her winemaking path. Through hard work, perseverance, and her passion for wine, Kristen was able to position herself to achieve her winemaking goals. 

Winemaker: Kristen Parsons

Winery: Chamard Vineyards: Winery & Bistro (Visit)

Location: 115 Cow Hill Rd, Clinton, CT 06413

Tasting Hours: OPEN Monday – Saturday 11:00AM – 9:00PM, Sundays 11:00AM – 8:00PM

Tasting Options: Enjoy a tasting & a snack!

Why did you become a winemaker? 

kristen filtering image

I grew up in an Italian family where wine was part of our celebrations. No one in my immediate family made homemade wine, but distant relatives and family friends did. I developed a palate for wine at a young age and fell in love with it. During my time at Babson, where I was focusing on the entrepreneurial studies of opening a vineyard and winery, I decided that I wanted to learn every aspect of the business. I took several internships during the summer and winter where I first studied the business end, marketing and finance, then hospitality, viticulture and enology.

After this, I found that I had a passion for working in the fields and in the cellar and crafting wine. I then went out and studied in Italy for a semester at Lorenzo de Medici and learned about Italian wines, just furthering my desire to make wine. Upon returning and graduating I decided to continue my education and went to school for Enology and Viticulture at Washington State University to realize my dream of making wine. Professionally, I have been making wine for close to seven years.

How were you introduced to winemaking in Connecticut?

chamard wines image

I was introduced to CT winemaking at Chamard Vineyards when I held an internship during my years at Babson College. Funny and wonderful how I ended up making wine here after all these years. I felt like I was coming home, and the crew that was here made it even better.

What are the biggest challenges for a winemaker in Connecticut?

The greatest challenge for a winemaker in CT is growing the grapes. It is a short growing season with a very humid climate. Wine is not just made in the cellar but is grown in the fields. The cost of growing grapes in CT is high and the yields are low. Grapes must be brought in to make enough wine to support the vineyard.

What makes Connecticut wine so great? What makes CT wine so different?

Bringing added agricultural production to the state. Making wine from CT grapes is difficult due to the terroir and crafting a quality wine from such grapes is more challenging. This forces CT grape-growers and winemakers to really study their craft and be extremely dedicated and resourceful.

Tell us about your harvest process

pinwheel in vineyard image

When harvest is nearing we begin testing the grapes for sugar and acid levels and then begin placing lugs in the rows of grape varietals that will be ready for harvest first. The grapes are hand picked into the lugs and collected into the back of the trailer pulled by a tractor. They are brought to the wine cellar where we have the destemmer -crusher and press cleaned, sterilized and ready to go. The white grapes are crushed and pressed into a pre-chilled tank. The red grapes are crushed and pumped into a vessel for fermentation on their skins.

How does your wine making approach differ from other winemakers? What is your general winemaking philosophy?

I cannot say how my wine making approach differs from others. I do make sure that any juice adjustments of acids, sugars or tannins are made prefermentation. I do not like adding any acids or tannins to the wine post fermentation because I feel that it negatively affects the flavors of the wine. I test, taste, and document the juice everyday through fermentation. I like to take my time and taste and test the wine the whole way through its life. My general winemaking philosophy is to try and make wine that is as much as posssible vin de terroir, that is to make the wine to express a sense of place rather than the stylistic efforts of the winemaker. I like to be as natural as possible and bring out the best of the grape. I learned this from a very inspirational winemaker, Randall Graham.

How do you know you’ve got a good vintage?

kristen with grapes image

A good vintage comes from a good growing season. On the east coast that is a long, warm and dry season with no rain around harvest.

Are there any new winemaking techniques or tools you’d like to experiment with?

A simple technique that I have always wanted to try is to ferment grapes on their indigenous yeast. I would like to try this wild, spontaneous fermentation to add a greater and diverse range of flavors and increase the aromatic complexity to the wine.

Which wine-growing region has had the most influence on you?

This is so hard to say! In Italy I experienced how grape growing and wine making was a way of life and how wine was a part of the culture. This began my romance with wine. I worked viticultural research positions throughout central Washington State during my time in college. This is where I fell in love with viticulture, the beautiful vineyards, the terroir and the resulting wines.

Upon moving back to the East coast, in VA and then CT I had to learn a whole new growing region and how to care for grapes in a new climate. This would be my first time growing grapes that I myself would be making wine from. Here I learned first hand that you grow the wine in the vineyard, that the viticulture is as important as the oenology.

What is one aspect of your job that might surprise people?

Wow, that is a hard question. Perhaps all the manual labor involved. Maybe the amount of time spent cleaning and sterilizing. Perchance the length of time (sometimes years) that it takes to complete a vintage.

What do you like best about your job?

kristin with wine glass

Everything! Especially guiding the wine through the whole process from start to finish, watching it evolve and mature, the changing tastes and aromas. To see how each growing season can affect the resulting wine.

What is your favorite wine that you’ve made and what makes it your favorite?

I guess that would be the first wine I ever vinted, not because of the varietal, but because of the memories and intricacy of the process, which produced a very complex and layered wine. It was an oak Chardonnay that I barrel fermented in French oak barrels ranging from brand new to 5 years old from several different forests. I used five different yeasts and surlies aged it over a year. It was vinted in 2007 and I have but one bottle remaining.

Who are your favorite winemakers and why? OR What is your favorite wine and why?

kristen and jeff image

One of my first inspirational winemakers was Randall Gram. He is the proprietor of Bonny Doon Winery in Santa Cruz, CA. From the beginning Randall was a leader in innovation in the wine industry from cyro-extraction to microbullage. He has always thought way outside the box. He embraced Biodynamic viticulture and producing wines of place.

Another of my inspirations is Charles Smith, the proprietor of K Winery in Walla Walla Washington, among many others to date. I studied near his winery in Washington when he was just beginning his venture into wine. He was a rock and roll manager and now a self-taught wine maker. He began with a love of Syrah, one of the great Rhone varietals, and he brought new and bold ideas and attitudes to the wine community. He worked on a label “The Modernist Project” with intent to create wines true to both the varietal and the vineyard that could be imbibed right away, which is the way wine is consumed today.

I will name but one more inspirational wine maker, Jef Stebbin (pictured above), a California winemaker, whose first harvest was with Opus One, with a UC Davis degree in fermentation management. He came to the east coast with his profound knowledge of chemistry where I got the chance to meet him and learn from him. He embodies the patience and passion of winemaker and teacher and has passed on to me some great information that I share with my fellow winemakers. Visit Jeff at his new winery, Maple Springs Winery in Bechtelsville, PA!

Is beer ever better than wine?

I have to say, after a hot, long day of harvest a cold beer is  what many winemakers reach for. I would have in the past, but have since discovered gluten allergies. I myself would enjoy a nice stout with roasted barley.

I want to give a big Thank You to Kristen Parsons from Chamard Vineyards for giving us a peak into the life of a Connecticut Winemaker. Make sure to stop by Chamard Vineyards in Clinton, CT for some delicious wines made from a very passionate Connecticut Winemaker! #GirlsMakeWineToo #MyCTWineTrail

The Chamard Vineyard & Bistro Experience:

chamard vineyard and fountain image

Visiting Chamard Vineyards is like taking a trip to the French country side.  Once you turn into the driveway you are surrounded by a myriad of beautiful grape vines and transported to a Chateau style winery. You can enjoy delicious wines while taking in the gorgeous views of a fountain and pristine vineyards.

A tasting includes samples of 5 wines and a Reidel glass which is your’s to keep. Each tasting is $10.00 per person. Chamard can accommodate parties of up to 10 people without a reservation. Stop in and sip on some tasty vino while you wait for your table at their Bistro.

The Bistro pairs delicious foods with the wines made on the property. Many of the vegetables and fruits that are sourced for the bistro are from Chamard’s on premise garden. Very much a farm to table atmosphere, Chamard Vineyards is a fantastic place to sip great wine and enjoy delicious food with family and friends. I hope you enjoy your visit! Cheers!

 

corporate events image