Local wineries like Paradise Hills and Gouveia Vineyards, both in Wallingford, will be participating in this year’s Connecticut Farm Wineries Passport Program, which kicks off May 3.
The spring to fall program, run by the state Department of Agriculture, gives wine lovers a chance to explore 40 local wineries while collecting stamps in a passport booklet that they can later trade in for prizes. The booklets can be picked up at any participating winery.
“A number of people write little notes in them and they can rate their visit, as well as the wine quality,” said Rebecca Eddy, Marketing and Inspection Representative for the Connecticut Department of Agriculture.
This year the department is releasing a mobile app to give guests the opportunity to collect stamps on their phone. There will be also be a prize incentive for those that download the app.
“We’re hoping to capture a younger demographic,” Eddy said.
More than half of the wineries participating are considered “Connecticut Grown,” meaning 51 percent of the fruit in their product is grown in the state.
Wine varieties include Chardonnay Oak and Steel available at Gouveia Vineyards and fruit wine using fermented apples and pears made at Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford.
The Connecticut Wine Festival in Goshen — Saturday, July 20 and Sunday, July 21 – is also included in the passport program.
Last year, the state agriculture department introduced a new tier structure prize system. The prize categories are 12 to 17 stamps, 18 to 34 stamps, and 35 plus stamps. The more stamps the bigger the prize. A total of 65 percent of passports last year fell in the 18 to 34 collected stamp range.
For those who collect 35 stamps or more, the grand prize this year is a two-week trip to Spain.
Other prizes for fewer stamps include a limousine tour of the wineries in the state as well as local getaways and wine.
The program ends Nov. 3. Winners will be chosen December 5.
More information can be found at http://www.passporttoctfarmwine.com