Hopkins Vineyard marks 40th anniversary
Hopkins Vineyard in Warren has reason to celebrate.
The family-owned vineyard is ready to kick off its 40th anniversary with a wine dinner May 3 at 6:30 p.m. at its neighbor, Hopkins Inn. A Buffalo Bill’s BBQ 40th anniversary party is set for Aug. 17.
“It’s such a special place here,” said Hilary Hopkins Criollo, who with her husband, Jorge, two and a half years ago bought the farm that has been in her family for 232 years.
“We want to keep it natural and undeveloped,” Criollo said of the land. “It’s important to the family.”
The vineyard — known for its prime location across from Hopkins Inn — overlooks Lake Waramaug and draws patrons from around the globe who are interested in the array of wines and special events.
“The view is unbelievable,” said Jack Barry of New York City and Southbury, a patron of nearly two decades. “And the wine is great.”
Dry, semi-sweet and sweet wines, sparkling wines, fruit wines and ice wines are among the offerings. In addition, the winery carries a Heritage Series of wine and two Méthode Champenoise.
Hopkins Vineyard is also known for its ice wines. Criollo said the vineyard follows the Canadian ice wine guidelines, meaning the grapes must be at 14 degrees or below when they are picked.
The vineyard’s wines are made from 85 to 90 percent of their grapes, according to Criollo. It allows for “better control over quality,” she said.
“The winemaker (at the vineyard) puts care and love into what he does,” said longtime patron Jim Lowe of Roxbury, who with his wife, Laura, have become friendly with the Hopkins family.
“It’s not hard to fall in love with Hopkins Vineyard,” Lowe said, citing his favorite wines as Cabernet Franc and peach wine.
Later this year, the vineyard will release a brandy it created in collaboration with the Litchfield Distillery.
The winery is situated in a 200-year-old barn that features a main level spacious tasting room and a second area with additional tables and another bar. A variety of unique items are available to purchase on the main floor, too.
A hayloft wine and cheese bar with additional seating and large windows through which patrons can take in scenic views of the lake rounds out the barn.
In the warmer months, patrons can be found inside the barn as well as outside, where tables and chairs are set up for patrons who would like to have a picnic.
Tastings, which are $12 per person and include a logo glass, are available year-round. Beginning May 1, the vineyard is open seven days a week.
The winery participates in the Connecticut Wine Trail’s Passport Program sponsored annually by the Connecticut Farm Wine Development Council and the state Department of Agriculture.
The program, which will run from May 3 through Nov. 3, invites individuals to visit any of the 40 participating wineries to have a passport stamped. Individuals who obtain 35 or more stamps have a chance to win prizes.
The winery also presents several special events. Among them, a singles night May 17, a fashion show June 1, a BBQ barrel tasting for Father’s Day, a tri-athalon July 20, a New England Clambake July 28, an anniversary party Aug. 17, a moonlight night and BBQ Sept. 14 and a wine and cheese market Oct. 19.
In addition to special events, the winery offers seasonal programs, such as spring’s Night Owl live music event Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m., and has an event area that can be used for special occasions.
Lowe said one of his daughters was married at the vineyard and “had a great time.”
“We love it,” he said.
Barry agreed, “They treat us like gold here.”
Hopkins Vineyard is located at 25 Hopkins Road. For more information and hours, call 860-868-7954, visit www.hopkinsvineyard.com.