A visit from uncle Russell and his friend Dana this weekend was reason enough to head over to the McLaughlin Vineyards to enjoy a picnic and some live music as part of the winery’s summertime jazz concert series.
It’s hard to believe you can find grape vines growing deep in the woods here, but we’ve got the photos to prove it. The family-run winery is actually part of the Connecticut wine trail, which includes 19 vineyards across the state.
Set on 160 acres of scenic landscape along the Housatonic river, the McLaughlin family (we met one of them at a party this weekend, by the way) produces a few thousand cases of wine each year from the grapes grown here. They also bottle their own maple syrup from tapped maple trees on the property, which means year-round good times.
Aside from the homemade potions, the vineyard is also known for its hiking trails that maze through a 50-acre wildlife area home to a bald eagle sanctuary. Every year in mid-December, the majestic birds stop over on their annual pilgrimage south and park themselves along the river to take advantage of the local fish population. The winery hosts sight seeing tours that promise a glimpse of the eagles, although we’ve been lucky enough to see them flying up the river valley from our back deck.
For a less blurry version of the above photo, click here.
Thanks to Connecticut’s outdated Blue Laws, you can’t buy alcohol on Sundays (or evenings and holidays, for that matter), but the vineyard isn’t prohibited from selling wine and it’s one loophole that’s worth taking advantage of.
So we packed up the beach chairs and the picnic blanket, stopped by Subway for a few footlongs, and set up camp on the vineyard’s grassy meadow to enjoy a bottle of Chardonnay.
Grapes before and after.
It’s no Napa Valley, but for being only 10 minutes away, it will do just fine for us Yankees.