WALLINGFORD – Saturday marked the start of this year’s Connecticut Winter Wine Trail passport program, which includes two Wallingford vineyards.
The program, much like the summer passport program, encourages people to visit wineries across the state for a chance to win prizes.
The trail officially started Saturday and will continue through April 11. There are 14 vineyards participating throughout the state, including Gouveia Vineyards, 1339 Whirlwind Hill Road, and Paradise Hills Vineyards, 15 Wind Swept Hill Road.
“It's a wonderful way of seeing the Connecticut wine trail in the wintertime,” said Brenda Ruggerio, co-owner of Paradise Hills Vineyards
She said despite what most people assume, wine production and consumption continue to be busy throughout the winter months.
At their winery, the wood-burning stove is going and they often have live music, making for a cozy atmosphere.
She said it’s great to see how many wineries are participating, especially as the wine industry grows in the state.
“Every single winery in the state has a little niche and something special to offer,” Ruggerio said.
Gouveia Vineyards also boosts a “relaxing” atmosphere for family time, said wine server Tammie Cadett. People can bring their own food, and games, and hang out for a while.
They’ve participated in the passport program before, as a way to increase exposure.
"It's a wonderful way of seeing the Connecticut wine trail in the wintertime."
-Brenda Ruggerio, Paradise Hills
Participants have to hand in their passports with stamps from all 14 wineries to be entered to win the prizes. Prizes include two night stays at West 57th Street by Hilton Club in New York City, Westbrook Inn Bed & Breakfast, or the Vermont House in Wilmington. There are also one-night stay packages at Bluffs House in Mystic, Embassy Hilton in Glastonbury and Wallingford Victorian Inn.
You can also win two tickets to the Chocolate Decadence tour on the Thomaston Train, a Peace & Tranquility package at Serenity Salon & Spa in Wallingford and an eight-passenger limo trip for eight hours of Connecticut wine trail visits.
Other prizes include 15 various gift cards from $50 to $200 in value, for restaurants and spas.
Paradise Hills Vineyards & Winery is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Gouveia Vineyards is open Monday through Wednesday from 1 to 6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.,and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
No purchase is necessary to receive a winery’s stamp.
Other participating wineries include: Bishop's Orchards Farm Market Winery, DiGrazia Vineyards, Haight-Brown Vineyard, Hopkins Vineyard, Jonathan Edwards Winery, Maugle Sierra Vineyards LLC, Miranda Vineyard, Priam Vineyards, Sharpe Hill Vineyard, Stonington Vineyards, Sunset Meadow Vineyards, and Taylor Brooke Winery.