Step into summer at Stonington Wine & Food Fest

Sharma Howard

The picturesque fields of mid-summer Chardonnay vines makes for a tranquil and relaxing ambiance at Stonington Vineyard’s Summer Annual Food & Wine Festival, a summer celebration that precedes the fall wine season.

The popular festival, which draws about 1,500 people from as far away as Maine and New Jersey, has created a loyal following for the mix of food, wine and music under a tent away from the hustle and bustle, but near enough to area attractions.

“It’s really casual; you can have a nice, relaxed time and just throw a blanket on the ground and have the kids run around,” said Sara Ross Clark, the vineyard’s publicist.

With so many recent movies featuring wine tastings and vineyards, outings to the 60-acre vineyard has increased, Clark said.

“Everyone wants to try wine and find a wine that’s their own,” she said.

The vineyard is open weekdays, and allows people to enjoy the perennial gardens and view, and picnic. But coolers aren’t allowed the day of the festival.

There is no entry fee, so festival goers don’t have to stay a certain length of time to feel they are getting their money’s worth, Clark said. There will be wine tasting all day — with the vineyard releasing five different wines for sampling: a 2006 Sheer Chardonnay, some dry wines and Seaport White, which is slightly sweet. Also included will be 2006 Triad Rose, which is a blend of three grapes, a dark rose that is completely dry. A much-anticipated 2007 Cabernet Franc also will be released.

“They are all wines that are good for summer, chilled or not. They are nice and crisp,” Clark said.

Tours of the wine cellar will be ongoing, so visitors can learn how wine is produced.

Four different food vendors will be offering lunch — Voodoo Grill, Pizzetta, Jeff the Chef and The Purple Pear.

Voodoo Grill serves up Cajun fare with a pulled pork sandwich, and Pizzetta offers Italian style pizza baked in granite ovens. They will be serving their popular “Pesto Splash,” which features diced tomatoes, fresh garlic Pesto and mozzarella and asiago cheese.

“That finds a warm welcome when mated with wine,” said owner Christopher Owens.

The festival is one of Owen’s favorite venues, and he said it gives him the opportunity to get outside and out of the kitchen.

Sampling and sales of New England products is another highlight of the festival, and will include gourmet specialty items, from olive oil to mustard, as well as goat cheese and tea.

“With all the vendors people can taste things so they can decide if they want to buy it,” Clark said.

Caricaturist Elaine Mills will show her serious side at the vineyard’s gallery with a collection of oil paintings in “Conversation in Color.” The exhibit will include quilts by Judith Larzelere.

Local musician Vince Thompson, with a California-style sound, will begin festivities Saturday morning. The Kevin Crandall Band will also perform Saturday, and have what Clark described as a “bluesy, western swing.”  Smoking Gun is also slated to play.

Norwich Bulletin


What: 8th annual Summer Wine & Food Festival.

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.

Where: Stonington Vineyards, 523 Taugwonk Road, Stonington.

Price: Free.

For more information, call 535-1222, or visit