In May (for my mom's birthday, actually), we were at the beach. And because it was then a tragic fact that I, wine drinker extraordinaire, had never been to a Connecticut (land of my birth!) winery, our group set out to fix this.
First we went to Bishop's Orchards in Guilford, CT, which is a winery, a nursery (for plants, not small people) and an enormous market. I'll be honest: as a nursery, it's good. As a market, it's fantastic and amazing. As a winery, it's.... meh. Their wines are quite good, I loved all I tasted. But the wine tasting bar is in the bread section of the grocery store. It's just a little weird. It's a wonderful market with a tasting bar, not a winery with a market.
But that's neither here nor there, because I obtained Goat's Milk Yogurt.
Those of you who know me personally know that I would eat goat cheese for every single meal if I could. My favorite sandwich is goat cheese and mango chutney on olive levain (yes, it sounds odd, but it's delicious- try just chevre on olive sourdough, or chevre and chutney on wheat bread or something, but it's all lovely). Any half-dead greens and sad little vegetables can be made into a 5 star salad with goat cheese (ok, maybe that's a stretch). Goats are the wonder animals of the dairy world.
I'm a big fan of yogurt, I always have been. I started eating yogurt for lunch way back in 7th grade (Dannon fruit on the bottom at first, then cherry Yoplait, then various different things, finally landing on the fat-free sugar-free Dannon (the version that came before light 'n fit) for a while, and then Stoneyfield Farms fruit on the bottom when my love affair with aspartame ended). I'd recently discovered Greek Yogurt, when I made that onion dip, and decided to try a spoonful before adding the yogurt to the dip. It was yum. I also had Skyr twice on our honeymoon in Iceland, which had been compared to Greek yogurt (also, that Siggi yogurt you can find around here seems to be essentially American Skyr). I do prefer Greek to Icelandic yogurt, however, the skyr always had some sort of odd tangy aftertaste, which at first I thought was because I had vanilla skyr, and generally dislike vanilla yogurt (my choice was vanilla skyr or no skyr, though).
Anyway, back to the goat yogurt. I got raspberry- raspberry is the flavor to get if you're trying new things (assuming you like raspberry). I think any questionable food could be made good with raspberry. So, first raspberry, second a milder flavor (which ended up being plain, purchased from the Hayes Dairy, which is owned by distant relatives who are so awesome that I always call them my cousins) and I mixed in my own jam, so far apricot or strawberry).
Will you like goat yogurt? Here are the two questions to ask yourself. 1. Do you like cow yogurt? 2. Do you like goat cheese? If the answers to both questions are yes, then yes, you will like goat yogurt. It really tastes like conventional yogurt with a little goat cheese flavor mixed in. It has the same consistency of goat yogurt, it's not thick like Greek yogurt.
Now, back to the one-day Connecticut wine tour. The market at Bishop's was simply mind-boggling. I was in absolute heaven there. I bought the goat yogurt, I bought delicious local strawberries (I'm still of the opinion that the only strawberries worth eating are from Connecticut or Massachusetts- or New Hampshire, after learning that their season is later than CT/MA, and will allow one to eat fresh strawberries for nearly a month). I bought plantains, 4 for $1! (I had big plans for those plantains, but it didn't really pan out. This working full-time thing really cuts into my cooking time). I saw produce I'd never heard of (and of course, forgot the name of). It was like the lazy Sundays mom and I spend at Whole Foods, browsing. Heaven.
After I came to after fainting from happiness there, we went to Chamard Winery in Clinton, CT. This is a beautiful winery. The tasting bar is a big U-shaped bar with big comfy bar stools, a few small high tables off to the side, where you're given a menu of what you'll be tasting. I didn't like that, being told what I'd have. And their wines are very old-school compared to what I've become used to, lots of pinots and chardonnays, when I've really just tasted various fruit wines, with a few grape wines thrown in. However, even though I was disappointed in the variety at first, their wines are excellent. Clint and I ended up purchasing a bottle of the pinot franc, a red I'd never heard of. It was a little on the bold/strong side (I don't know my wine terminology very well), but not unpleasantly strong, the way my mom thinks Shirazes are. To compare: my favorite reds are pinot noir (for summer) and shiraz (for winter). I don't care for cabernet sauvignon or most merlots. To end our tasting session, we had sangria. This sangria is the reason I've been making my own sangria all summer. They shared their recipe, but I ended up not using it. Theirs used the cabernet franc, and double that volume of ginger ale. 1. I can't bear diluting such a good (and pricey) wine with HFCS in any form, and 2. it was really, really sweet. All in all, I really enjoyed our visit to Chamard.
We also picked up the CT wine trail passport- a little booklet that you get stamped at every CT winery you visit. If you visit 16 before November, you can mail it in to be entered to win a trip to Spain (for a wine tour) or a handful of weekends at the Norwich Inn, in Norwich, CT. So far I've only been to 2 wineries, but there are a handful straight down I-395 from me, within an hour's drive. Not along 395 is Gouveia Vineyards, in Wallingford, CT, which my cousin C says is her favorite, so that one is definitely on my to-visit-soon list.
In related wine excitement, I am ecstatic to be volunteering at the CT Wine Festival, in Goshen, CT in 2 weeks. I will be selling wine slings (hang your wine glass around your neck and keep your hands free while you wander/shop/eat!) and then I plan to visit each and every booth/tent/whatever when my shift ends. I can't wait!!