With the upswing in the number of wineries operating here in Connecticut in the past few years, there are several excellent vineyards in this region
where you can, for a few dollars per person, taste a good many of the wines
each produces and take in some pretty scenic areas while you're at it.
There's Jonathan Edwards Winery in North Stonington, where you can
belly-up to an oak bar in the tastefully appointed tasting room and afterward
romp around the vineyard out back. At the other end of the region there's
Sharpe Hill Vineyard in Pomfret, where you can finish off your tasting by
taking in the winery's dramatic three-state view from atop the highest field.
But one of my favorite vineyards lately is a new one in Ledyard, off Route
117 near Ledyard Center, called Maugle Sierra. What's fun about this
winery is its unpretentiousness, from its gravel driveway to its
low-ceilinged tasting room with the small bar and a few high tables scattered
around the room.
Owner Paul Maugle is usually manning the wine bar, explaining to patrons
what they're tasting and exactly where the grapes come from that he uses in
The coziness of the tasting room almost always means that you'll be seated
with, or very close to, other patrons and interaction is nearly always a
given. Every time I go, I learn that the other folks there, like me, don't
know much about wine - and aren't afraid to admit it - but simply enjoy the
idea of participating in a burgeoning industry in our state.
A tasting costs just $7. If your wallet can stand it, when you're done
with the tasting, for another $7 or so you can buy a glass of whichever wine
was your favorite and, weather permitting, sit at one of the tables set up
just outside the tasting room. From there you get a view of Maugle's back
yard, the vineyard just beyond it and farther out, the woodlands of Ledyard.
Maugle and his wife, Betty, live on the property (the tasting room is in
the bottom floor of their home), so the whole atmosphere of the place has a
relaxing, laid-back feel. When you're sitting on the patio with your glass of
wine, looking out over the home's gardens, it feels as if you're at a
Maugle Sierra is at 825 Colonel Ledyard Highway in Ledyard. To get there
take Exit 88 off Interstate 95. At the end of the exit, take Route 117 north
for about 6.5 miles. The winery is just north of Ledyard Center, on the left side of 117.
- Eileen McNamara