In recent years, Connecticut vineyards have exploded in population, making the state something of a wine destination. Despite recent advances in the winemaking scene, however, since many of these vineyards are relatively young, their wines tend to follow suit. Don’t get me wrong, I like a sweet chilled Cayuga as well as the next gal, but something about most of the Connecticut vineyards carries a fun fruity easy drinking vibe that can alienate the more “serious” or seasoned wine drinker. This is why it was such a treat to happen upon Walker Road Vineyards in Woodbury Connecticut. These wines had all the depth and balance of a good Napa Valley Cabernet, and can please novice wine drinkers and seasoned connoisseurs alike!
The 13 acre vineyard at Walker Road is a sight to behold. The tasting room is in a rustic yet upscale remodeled barn, with high vault ceilings and a large open air window in the back overlooking the grape vines growing Marquette, Seyval blanc, Traminette and St. Croix varietals. When grapes are ripe, you will often find a bowl of the fruit on the counter being offered to guests. Walker Road offers two wines, one red and one white. The menu includes either bottles to be enjoyed on premise or taken home, or a sample tasting of both wines. When available, a third wine is often offered, my personal favorite made of 100% estate grown Marquette.
Another thing that sets Walker Road apart are the proprietors, Jim and Bruce Elizabeth Frey, who years ago resigned from their traditional professions and set out to actualize their dream of making wine. My favorite story the Freys shared was a story about the picture that graces the bottle of the white wine, Gertrude’s Garden. There is a historic home and garden in Woodbury, the Gertrude Jekyll estate and garden. Shortly after the inception of Walker Road vineyard, the estate keepers of the Jekyll garden sought out the Freys for a collaboration. The Freys named the wine Gertrude’s Garden, in honor of the historic Jekyll estate. But it turns out there was another Gertrude in Jim Frey’s life; his mom. He had a picture of her from the 1950s, taken by his father. She is smiling radiantly. This very picture was used to create the label you will find on every bottle of Gertrude’s Garden.
The White blend, Gertrude’s Garden is predominantly Seyval Blanc, which is grown on site. Estate grown Traminette and imported California Sauvignon Blanc round out the blend. This white wine is so refreshing! Not too sweet and not too dry. The red blend features estate grown St. Croix, with the addition of California Cabernet and Sangiovese. It is robust and complex with very balanced, subtle tannins. There is also a small batch production of Marquette available from time to time. Marquette is a relatively new grape, arising from crossbreeding from other varietals, and if you have not yet tried a Marquette wine, I strongly suggest you do so, as it is absolutely delicious.
Walker Road Vineyards is currently open Saturdays and Sundays between 12-5pm.
http://www.walkerroadvineyards.com // 203-263-0768