Is there anything more serene, more sophisticated, and more comforting than a glassful of the nectar of the gods? The ancient Greeks got it right. Ahhhh, wine. It leaves an indelible mark on the senses. Whatever your pleasure—red, white, sparkling, rosé, fortified or dessert—wine has the unique distinction of being at the top of the list for many a connoisseur of libations.
To experience wine on the tongue and feel the velvety goodness as it cascades down your throat is one thing. To get an inside peek at the winemaking process is another. On a sunny but slightly chilly Saturday afternoon, that is exactly what I did. Pointing my GPS towards Brookfield, CT, I made the one hour drive from Stamford to DiGrazia Vineyards & Winery.
Located about ninety minutes from Manhattan and one of twenty-three wineries that make up the Connecticut Wine Trail, DiGrazia Vineyards is a small boutique winery that focuses on great wine first, with excellent customer service coming in a very close second. With 15-18 different wines available (depending upon the season), choosing a bottle that first whets the appetite then quenches the thirst is not an arduous task. Au contraire, the uncomplicated steps you take that will ultimately lead you to a splendid bottle of wine are an integral part of this inspiring joy ride.
A brief, ten minute tour of the production side of the winery is designed not so much to inform about the history of winemaking, per se, but rather does a very interesting job of giving tour-goers a glimpse into some of the benefits derived from the process of winemaking, such as DiGrazia’s practice of leaving a tell-tale white film on the grapes prior to the crushing/de-stemming process (that other wine makers strip) that contains a gene that purportedly promotes longevity. Did I understand all of the finer nuances of what was said? Of course not; I couldn’t even pronounce the name of the gene—I was far too busy daydreaming about the wines I was about to take pleasure in—but it made for interesting conversation nonetheless.
Once you liberate a paltry six dollars from your wallet and hand it over to the helpful and knowledgeable staff, you in turn will get a sampling—or a tasting, if you will—of six different wines of your choosing, including white, blush, red, specialty and dessert wine (most of which are on the sweeter side). Each of DiGrazia’s wines is an award winner, and at least one is reputed to have one of the highest levels of antioxidants of any wine produced in the United States. And being a doctor of medicine, Dr. Paul DiGrazia, the founder of DiGrazia Vineyards, should know.
Wild Blue, a brandy-infused blueberry dessert wine, has won various awards, including Best of New England, Best of Connecticut and Best of Exhibition, to name a few. The aromatic intensity of the wine is equaled only by the strength of the sweetness in the mouth. Wild Blue, like port wine, has a long shelf life which makes it an even nicer selection as it can be enjoyed longer once opened. However, as with all wines, the older the vintage, the sooner it should be consumed.
While my favorites among DiGrazia’s selection may have nothing to do with the cravings of your palate, I found the Fieldstone Reserve, a medium bodied red, to be balanced, not too heavy, and less dry than expected. Another favorite was the Honey Blush, a focused and light, semi-dry honey-grape wine. My favorite white of the group, however, was the Wind Ridge, a semi-dry Seyval Blanc that was well-balanced and crisp.
The quaint country gift shop serves double duty as the wine tasting area. There you will find an assortment of wine paraphernalia, books, wine bags, bottle tags and, of course, the wine. DiGrazia offers in-store discounts on purchased bottles as well.
It’s obvious that Dr. DiGrazia is proud of his efforts. And he has every right to be. When asked why he does what he does, his eyes softened and he spoke quietly, “To leave this for my family.” He scanned the room and his gaze fell upon his wife, Barbara, who is as much an integral part of the vineyard as he is.
The legacy that Dr. DiGrazia has built is one which is designed to stand the test of time. Wine drinkers—whether a casual indulger, an aspiring aficionado or a connoisseur of the highest order seeking to add to an already impressive collection—know a good wine when they find one. Even as tastes vary wildly from one person to another, there are still those who see the value in long-standing traditions. DiGrazia Vineyards offers the pleasures of the vine to those who appreciate it most—and that appreciation will be passed on to their children, and the children of their children, and hopefully their children, too.
Connecticut as a wine-producing region . . . who knew? Obviously, Dr. Paul DiGrazia did.
DiGrazia Vineyards & Winery
131 Tower Road