Take Me Down to Paradise Hillin’, Where the Grass is Green and the Girls are Swillin’
Paradise Hills Vineyards
August 6, 2011
[December 2012 Update: I suppose I should apologize to Paradise Hills, since it’s been so long between my visits there and my getting around to writing this page. But then I realize that no one takes my opinions on wine the least bit seriously, so no one cares. This was the 27th winery I’ve been to – and only one Hoang has never visited. For what it’s worth, my son Damian has only not been to one as well – Land of Nod in East Canaan for those of you following along at home. You weirdos.]
When I was cleaning up my Connecticut winery entries recently, as I’m coming to the end of the trail so to speak – 2 final visits in 2013 will bring me up to having visited every single one in the state – I got stuck on my page about Wallingford’s Gouveia, a short drive away from Paradise Hills. I had written how Gouveia was the most un-Wallingford thing about Wallingford.
And that’s still true. It is. The much newer Paradise Hills, perhaps, tries to capture some of that title from Gouveia but… nope. It’s not happening. First of all, calling yourselves “Paradise Hills” does not take away from the fact that you are located, quite literally, in the middle of suburban sprawl. To get there, you drive through suburbs, then down a leafy cul-du-sac dead-end and then up a dirt road to the Macaroni Grille.
Oops. I mean the winery.
It’s all sort of weird, but I credit the owners for building their Macaroni Grille in such a way as to attempt to transport visitors to some Tuscan region. They did a great job with that, no doubt about it.
But I’d guess their neighbors would disagree, especially on Saturday afternoons.
On my first visit, during which I took these pictures, Damian was being a bit difficult. Fancy that. There were other folks at the bar doing the full tasting, but I just couldn’t deal with that with Damian under foot, so I opted to get a glass of wine and chug it down.
I went with their Washington Trail White – a “fruit forward medium bodied wine with apple and citrus flavors to the taste, followed by nice soft fruit nuances of on the palate, coupled with a lingering finish.”
Yes, that’s exactly what the description of it says from the tasting menu I have been carrying around for a year and a half in my magic CTMQ folder. Eh, let’s say the owner/writer is from Tuscany and has only been speaking and writing English for a short while.
They were sold out of two of their six wines during my visit. Granted, they were brand new and that, to me, speaks to early success. Or poor planning. Or both.
Paradise Hills opened in May 2011. Now I’m writing this in February 2013 and I’m sure they’ve improved their customer service and selections.
The wine I had was not good. It tasted like I could have made it in my garage. But I really like the name, since it pays homage to the nearby spot where General George Washington led the troops through on his way to fight the Brits back in the day. Props for that.
That was pretty much that for my first visit.
On the printed wine menu I have from 2 years ago, they do clearly state where the grapes they use are from. (Well, they clearly state which wines are made from their own estate grown grapes and simply don’t say where for the others – including what was then their “premier red wine.” That’s the way the wine cracker crumbles here in Connecticut.
(To be fair, one of our best wineries – Jonathan Edwards – uses Napa Valley grapes for their oft-acclaimed reds.)
I do notice that they have a strong presence on social media and are always hosting events and bands and parties and such. I imagine they provide free wine to the people who live in that cul-du-sac, because they moved there for a quiet little dead-end street and ended up with a busyish road with undoubtedly tipsy drivers on occasion.
That upsets me for them for some irrational reason.
I doubt I’ll ever end up at Paradise Hills again, unless Hoang decides one day she simply must go to every single CT winery as well. Which would be pretty cool, but would also sort of freak me out because that would be so unlike her.