Best New England Wineries: Plan a Vineyard Hopping Trip

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Kim Knox Beckius

New England wineries produce an eclectic array of vintages, from coastal Chardonnays to the apple and blueberry wines of Maine, from sweet, viscous ice wines to red wine infused with chocolate. Even better, many of the region's vineyards welcome visitors to not only taste their wine selections but to view and learn more about the grape-growing and wine-making process. As the number of wineries in New England has grown dramatically, the competitive environment has inspired new offerings at these picturesque destinations: Everything from concert series to art exhibitions to special dining events. At Verde Vineyards in Rhode Island, you can even volunteer to help harvest and crush grapes in the fall.

Whether you're hoping to visit one winery while you're vacationing in New England or planning an entire itinerary around "vineyard hopping," this guide will point you to some of the best wineries to visit in all six New England states. You're least likely to find wineries open during the winter months, although many stay open year-round. The fall foliage season is a splendid time of year to plan a winery-themed tour of one or more of the New England states.

Here's a quick look at must-visit New England wineries, state-by-state, featuring some of our personal favorites.

Best Connecticut Wineries

In Connecticut, you can follow the Connecticut Wine Trail and even have your special passport stamped for a chance to win prizes. Of the two dozen wineries in Connecticut that welcome visitors, a few you are sure to adore include:

  • Lost Acres Vineyard in North Granby, CT, which hosts revolving art exhibitions and special events like farmers markets and musical performances.
  • Arrigoni Winery in Portland, CT, which—in addition to whites and reds—offers specialty wines like Chocolate Love, Smashed Pumpkin (made with real pumpkin) and Sugar House (infused with maple syrup).
  • Sharpe Hill Vineyard, which is worth the drive to Pomfret, CT, to taste award-winning wines and to savor a meal at one of New England's best places to dine fireside.

Best Maine Winery

Maine is known for its "vineless" wines made with apples and other native fruits. A few intriguing stops include:

  • Cellardoor Winery in Lincolnville, ME, where you won't want to miss C’est de l’or: A dessert wine made with syrah, brandy and local maple syrup.

Best Massachusetts Wineries

In Massachusetts, the Wine & Cheese Trail offers dual delights. Wineries we really like include:

  • Furnace Brook Winery in the Berkshires in Richmond, MA, where you can pair wines with cider donuts since this is also home to Hilltop Orchards. Rent snowshoes (or bring your own) and explore their trails in the wintertime, then warm up by sipping Old Vine Zinfandel.
  • Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton, MA, which is a lovely destination for picking your own peaches, nectarines, and apples in season, too, and home to J's Restaurant (reservations required), which serves farm-to-table fare and the vineyard's wines.

Best New Hampshire Winery

New Hampshire does Massachusetts one better with a Wine, Cheese, and Chocolate Trail. Don't miss:

  • Moonlight Meadery in Londonderry, NH: Sample an array of the more than 80 meads (honey wines) handcrafted at this innovative maker of ancient beverages. All of the creations have fun names like Coffee in Bed, Truth Bee Told, and Warm & Fuzzy.

Best Rhode Island Wineries

Tiny Rhode Island is home to wineries we love for their stories including:

  • Verde Vineyards in Johnston, RI, where retired biology professor Jim Verde makes award-winning wines like St. Croix entirely with solar power.
  • Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyard, which is off the beaten path in Little Compton, RI, and one of the prettiest vineyards you'll encounter in New England thanks to the touch of owner Carolyn Rafaelian (founder of jewelry company Alex & Ani).

Best Vermont Winery

Yes, even in Vermont, winemakers have found fertile ground for producing unique wines. Find your favorite to pair with Vermont's famous cheeses at:

  • Shelburne Vineyard in Shelburne, VT, which is ideally situated on the shores of Lake Champlain and consistently wins awards for its cold climate wines.

Keep in mind, too, that when you buy and bring home bottles of New England-made wine, you'll be able to relive your New England vacation memories at the twist of a corkscrew. Why not splurge on a case?

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