A Visit to the Greenwich Wine+Food Festival and CTbites Blogger Lounge

Greenwich, CT: The CTbites Blogger Lounge at the Greenwich Wine+Food Festival, with Executive Editor Amy interviewing a guest

Last weekend Francesca and I had been kindly invited to visit the Greenwich 2013 Wine+Food Festival by Amy, the energetic Executive Editor of CTbites.

CTbites is (in their own words) “a web-based community built by and for people who love food in Connecticut“. It was founded in 2009 by Stephanie Webster, CTbites’ Editor in Chief, and it now includes Executive Editor Amy Kundrat, a dozen contributors and thousands of enthusiastic eaters who mostly gravitate in or around Fairfield County, Connecticut.

CTbites’ editors and contributors aim to scout and share with readers new food-related operations (from restaurants to food stores and farmer’s markets) as well as to try and review every restaurant, diner and dive in Fairfield County for their readers’ benefit.

Unfortunately, Francesca could not make it to the Festival due to an event she had to participate in at our daughter’s school, so I “had to” step up to the plate and go visit the Festival by myself. 😉

The Festival took place at Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, CT, a beautiful recreational space overlooking Long Island Sound, and featured more than 130 food or wine exhibitors, most of whom had stands in the large Culinary Village Tent, which was the epicenter of the Festival, while the others were scattered in a few satellite tents focusing on specific themes or showcasing kitchen appliances.

Greenwich, CT: The Maserati tent at the Greenwich Wine+Food Festival

There were however two additional prominent features: one was a local Maserati dealership’s tent, sporting two brand new sports cars, and the other was the CTbites Blogger Lounge: a tent right by the entrance of the Festival where food and wine bloggers could congregate, attend a program featuring interviews of a number of prominent chefs and of course meet the wonderful people behind CTbites.

In this regard, I had the opportunity to talk to Amy and Stephanie and they are both great – I would add unsurprisingly, considering how much they have achieved in a relatively short period of time. As an added bonus, the CTbites Blogger Lounge offered its visitors excellent, creamy espresso (and being Italian, if I say excellent, I think you should trust me!) provided by Espresso NEAT Cafe in Darien, CT. Make sure to check them out if you are in the area.

Greenwich, CT: The CTbites Blogger Lounge at the Greenwich Wine+Food Festival

During my visit, beside of course hanging out in the Blogger Lounge and checking out the Maserati’s 😉 I browsed the main tent, mostly focusing on (I bet you guessed) wine. While of course the Festival was mainly a food event and one that mostly targeted consumers (in other words, it was no Vinitaly International or Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri NYC), there were still a few interesting wine tasting opportunities. These are, in a nutshell, those that struck me the most:

Nantucket Vineyard: I had been interested in checking them out for a while, primarily because I love the island. 🙂 The winery was founded in 1981 on Nantucket by Dean and Melissa Long and nowadays it sources most of the grapes they use for making their wines from Yacama Valley in Washington State. I had the opportunity to taste their Chardonnay, which was quite pleasing: lean, citrus-y with hints of grapefruit and only slightly oaked (it ages one year in French oak), which for me is a definite plus. All in all, an easy to drink, refreshing Chardonnay. I also tasted their Sailor’s Delight, a Merlot and Syrah blend that ages for 18 months in French oak. This wine didn’t quite work for me, as I found it quite thin and bland, with red fruit aromas and an acidic edge that in my view threw it a little bit off balance.

USA, Greenwich: The stand of the Nantucket Vineyard, a US wine producer, at the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival

WineWise: this is a wine store that just recently opened in Greenwich and features a whole array of wines, from entry-level ones to top wines that they hold in a dedicated space known as “the vault”. Among other wines, I had the opportunity to taste a very pleasant Martinez Lacuesta Rioja Gran Reserva 2004, with a nice nose of leather, cocoa and cherry, and a nicely balanced structure. The wine retails for $37, which in my view is a bit on the high side for a wine that sure is good, but is in a price range that offers several very solid alternatives to compete with.

USA, Greenwich: WineWise, a Greenwich wine store at the Greenwich Wine + Food Festival

Quintessential Wines: This importer and distributor showcased a selection of wines from their portfolio. I tasted a few, and the one that impressed me most was an organic Matetic Casablanca EQ “Coastal” Sauvignon Blanc 2012 from Chile: a great, typical nose for the variety, with intense aromas of grapefruit, citrus, “cat pee” (if you like Sauvignon Blanc, you most likely know what I am talking about) and nettle, with crisp citrus-y and mineral flavors, complemented by a lively acidity. Very pleasant, considering also its appealing $20 price point.

Greenwich, CT: The stand of TMRW, a Canadian icewine importer, at the Greenwich Wine+Food FestivalTMRW: This acronym stands for the quite cheesy name “The Most Romantic Wine“, a collection of VQA Canadian icewines made from selected wineries (Caroline Cellars, Cornerstone and King’s Court) and distributed by Icewines Exclusive. The collection comprises a range of ten different alternatives, varying by grape variety and by originating winery. The wines come in half-bottle size (375 ml) and are made from grapes grown in Canada’s Niagara peninsula (in the province of Ontario) that are hand-harvested at night when the temperatures lower to 18F/-8C or below. I have been able to taste a few, including a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Cabernet Franc and a Vidal, but my personal favorite was the Caroline Cellars Riesling VQA Icewine 2008: liquid gold with intense aromas of peach, dried apricot, white flowers and a touch of tangerine, followed by sweet mouth flavors of dried apricot, pear and hints of honey, counterbalanced however by good acidity that kept the wine alive. To me, it has been a pleasant discovery.

Although there were many more interesting stands and exhibitors at the Festival, it is time to wrap things up: I enjoyed attending the Greenwich 2013 Wine+Food Festival as well as the opportunity to mingle with the CTbites team at their Blogger Lounge – thank you, Amy, for the kind invitation. If you live in or near Fairfield county, consider visiting the Festival next year and by all means if you are not familiar with CTbites yet, check them out online and consider signing up for their newsletter and invites to cool culinary happenings.

Disclaimer: CTbites kindly provided a pass to the Festival. The opinions about the Festival, the exhibitors and CTbites are solely my own.

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0 thoughts on “A Visit to the Greenwich Wine+Food Festival and CTbites Blogger Lounge

  1. Just Add Attitude

    Hi Stefano,

    I am sorry I am so late catching up with your blog but I have had a busy week.

    I think events such as this are a great idea as they give producers an opportunity to showcase their wares directly to consumers. TMRW name is certainly cheesy but also memorable so maybe there is merit in that from a marketing point of view.

    All the best from B 😉

    1. Stefano Post author

      Hi B,
      Thank you so much for your comment, and of course no worries about catching up! I know you are busy, and staying on top of the blogs you follow, as pleasant as it may be, just takes time.
      I agree, I like festivals and fairs too: it is a nice way for producers/importers to make contact with consumers directly. TMRW as a name makes me scratch my head… 😉 but their wines are good!
      Thank you as always for your meaningful comments.
      Have a wonderful week,

  2. the winegetter

    Wait, you cheated on German Riesling ice wine with Canadian stuff? I was relieved to read that at least they make it the right way…but still…and yes, the name is pretty hilarious (I’ve come across it before and was wondering what they were up to). I guess I like my romance more sassy…but seriously, I hope I can showcase some of the real stuff for you!

    1. Stefano Post author

      Hahaha! 🙂 I know, right?! Problem is, German Riesling importers decided to snub the Greenwich W+F Festival, so what is a man to do? 🙂
      The name is a nightmare, seriously… 😉 I am definitely looking forward to be introduced to the world of German icewine (or I guess I should say eiswein, right?) from my German-American mentor and friend! 🙂

    1. Stefano Post author

      Well, thank you, Tracy! The Ctbites people have been incredibly nice and fun: they never asked for anything, not even that I write a post about the event. And I did enjoy the event and the interaction with them, I really had a good time. On my post, I only tried to, borrowing your words, tell the event the way I experienced it. 🙂 And I might add, as is the case for my wine sample policy, I would not accept something if I were required to say something other than what I think in return. 🙂

  3. laurasmess

    Hahaa… ‘The Most Romantic Wine’! Very interesting choice for a brand. I do love icewine though, the Riesling sounds delicious… you described it so perfectly, I can almost taste it. As for the rest of the festival, trust you to find the Maserati tent! 🙂 The cars do look impressive though, and I’ve never actually seen a Maserati in ‘real life’ (there are no dealerships over here. Sad huh?). Sorry that Francesca missed out on the lovely festivities. Stefano, you did a very fine job on reporting ‘solo’, I loved the wine notes in particular! Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to pour myself a glass of chilled ‘cat pee’ Sauvignon Blanc 🙂

    1. Stefano Post author

      Man, I think if there were ever a contest for the cheesiest name for a wine (or collection of wines) those guys would stand a chance of winning! 😉 But, truth be told, I liked their juice.
      I was SO sure you would relate to the cat pee descriptor, Laura – even if I know that you like reds better than whites! 😀 I should probably have used the more refined descriptor “boxwood”, but I think the other one conveys the message more clearly 😉 Also, I have to say that it is an aroma that I have not really picked up in the NZ SB’s that I have had so far. What’s your take on this? Would you agree?
      Always a pleasure chatting with you, Laura, and of course thanks for reading and commenting! 🙂
      Long-distance hugs