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Time For Wine

A Farm Turned Vineyard Is Ready for Guests



Antoine Bootz

There’s a vineyard tucked away on a 500-acre property in Washington that rivals the most remarkable regions in Tuscany or Burgundy in its exhilarant beauty. It’s located on Whittlesey Road—a narrow, curvy, designated scenic route—and has only been open for tastings and tours to wine merchants and restaurateurs by appointment.

But owners Timothy and Stephanie Ingrassia are making their wines more available to the public this summer. They have purchased seven contiguous lots totaling 114 acres that connect the land down to Bee Brook Road (Route 47), in Washington Depot, and in late July, are opening a new entrance to the tasting area at 292 Bee Brook Road. The entrance uses a long-existing bridge over the brook that’s been locally known as “The Bridge to Nowhere.” Until now.

“We’re just so excited,” says Joline Audet, manager of Spring Hill Vineyards, which the Ingrassias began cultivating in 2006. In a large open field bordered by ancient stonewalls, dramatic hills and woodlands, the Ingrassias have installed a historic silo that was relocated from their farm, and set up an Airstream trailer as “a retro tasting room,” Audet says. They have made use of an old dirt road that connects this land to the vineyard property. This will enable visitors, by appointment, to tour the glorious grounds and learn about the intricate winemaking process. 

And that’s not all that’s happening at the new Bee Brook property this summer. The world-famous, Washington-based modern dance company, Pilobolus, is set to run a Five Senses Festival July 21 to August 11. “So, people can come in, experience these amazing performers, and do a little wine tasting.” Audet says.

​Pilobolus marketing manager Bridgid Pierce says of the Spring Hill property, “It’s an incredible, magical space. The Ingrassias have been so supportive and wonderful. They wanted to have sort of a firecracker, creative, kickoff celebration. There will be sunrise hikes, meditation, movement classes, talks, community meals, and of course, the wine.” Spring Hill has also hired John Bordeau, owner of The Owl Wine Bar in New Preston, to promote sales and plan events at the vineyard. “We’re hoping to do some really fun things,” Audet remarks. “That’s how impressed with our wines he is; he wants to be onboard.”

The vineyard property is a historic farm started in the 18th century, even before the town of Washington was founded. The Ingrassias bought it in 2005 from the Seymour family, who had farmed hay and tended livestock there for three generations. “For well over a decade before we acquired the farm, we found ourselves randomly choosing to drive down Whittlesey Road to catch a glimpse of this magical valley abutting Steep Rock and running alongside the Shepaug River,” says Stephanie Ingrassia. “Still, years later, the view of Spring Hill Farm and Hidden Valley takes our breath away.” Stephanie Ingrassia, vice chairwoman of the Brooklyn Museum, started the vineyard with her father, Andy Johnson. 

The vineyard is nestled in quilted hills, and gently slopes down to the Shepaug River, providing an opportune terroir for growing grapes. “The river carries cold air out, and we’ve got the nice southwestern exposure and the well-drained soil; it’s like our own, perfect little microclimate here,” says Ben Sterry, the 33-year-old winemaker who oversees “everything from ground to glass” at Spring Hill.    

​Sterry grew up in the area, and loved playing outside. “I was always running around the farms; didn’t catch that video game thing,” he says. He attended Shepaug Valley High School with Stephanie Ingrassia’s younger brother, who recommended him for the position. “Tim and Stephanie are such good people. They wanted someone who could grow with the vineyard, and they took a chance on me,” says Sterry, who studied Earth Science at Southern Connecticut State University and worked for three years at nearby Hopkins Vineyard on Lake Waramaug. 

The vineyard spans ten acres, on which five varieties of grapes are grown: Marquette, cabernet franc, pinot noir, chardonnay, and Riesling. The Marquette is “basically a pinot noir that’s been crossed with a complex parentage of cold-hardy North American species,” Sterry says. It’s able to withstand shorter growing seasons and frigid winters, which is why Spring Hill has devoted four of the ten acres to this variety, one of the largest plantings in the country, he says. The vines, now 12 years old, have matured to produce “a dark, exuberant wine with a spicy nose filled with plum and raisin,” Sterry says. 

Spring Hill’s Marquette and cabernet franc wines, among others, have won numerous awards at wine festivals. “Our wine has really come around; it’s phenomenal, actually,” Sterry says. Many Connecticut vintners buy grapes from California to bolster their own crops (state law requires that 25 percent of a vineyard’s produce be grown on site), but Sterry says, “100 percent of our grapes are grown right here. I monitor the vines every day. I touch every plant, check for diseases, insects. I’m incredibly lucky, because I love what I do. I even get to bring my dog.” Spring Hill Vineyards wines are sold at about 20 restaurants and package stores around Connecticut. 

 

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September 2018

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Sponsor: Loft Gallery at The Smithy
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Telephone: 860-868-9003
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Cost: Free

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Cost: Free

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View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
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Cost: Free

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Sponsor: Litchfield Farmers Market
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Cost: free

Where:
Loft Gallery at The Smithy
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View map »


Sponsor: Loft Gallery at The Smithy
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
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New Morning Market
129 Main St North
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View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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160 South St
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View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Victoria Kiszka
Website »

More information

Joan Morosani and Susan Spencer are excited and honored to be showing together for the third time at OWL. They draw from different approaches and traditions, but feel that their paintings perfectly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
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View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Victoria Kiszka
Website »

More information

Scott Bond is pleased to announce three events to be celebrated with an opening reception on Friday August 24 from 6-8pm at “Byrde + the b” a full service hair salon, art gallery and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Washington Photographer Philip Dutton’s dramatic photos document The Chief Bigfoot Memorial Ride of 1990, a momentous event that helped commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Massacre at...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 186-086-87586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
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View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Victoria Kiszka
Website »

More information

Joan Morosani and Susan Spencer are excited and honored to be showing together for the third time at OWL. They draw from different approaches and traditions, but feel that their paintings perfectly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Victoria Kiszka
Website »

More information

Since 2007, the Litchfield Hills Farm-Fresh Market has hosted over 15 vendors, farmers, bakers, chefs, artists and makers from throughout Northwest Connecticut. Visitors to the market will find...

Cost: free

Where:
Center School, Litchfield
West & Woodruff Street
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View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Farmers Market
Telephone: (860) 000-0000
Contact Name: Kay Carroll, Market Master
Website »

More information

The Loft Gallery welcomes an exhibit of large-scale landscape and gardenscape paintings by South Kent CT artist, Lisa Brody. This show opens on Saturday, September 1st, and runs through Sunday,...

Cost: free

Where:
Loft Gallery at The Smithy
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: Loft Gallery at The Smithy
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

Scott Bond is pleased to announce three events to be celebrated with an opening reception on Friday August 24 from 6-8pm at “Byrde + the b” a full service hair salon, art gallery and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
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View map »

More information

Washington Photographer Philip Dutton’s dramatic photos document The Chief Bigfoot Memorial Ride of 1990, a momentous event that helped commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Massacre at...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 186-086-87586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Litchfield Community Center
421 Bantam Road
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View map »


Telephone: 186-056-78302
Website »

More information

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Cost: $15.00 pp

Where:
Litchfield Community Center
421 Bantam Road
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Telephone: 186-056-78302
Website »

More information

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Cost: donation

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

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Show Less...

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Cost: free

Where:
Center School, Litchfield
West & Woodruff Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Farmers Market
Telephone: (860) 000-0000
Contact Name: Kay Carroll, Market Master
Website »

More information

The Loft Gallery welcomes an exhibit of large-scale landscape and gardenscape paintings by South Kent CT artist, Lisa Brody. This show opens on Saturday, September 1st, and runs through Sunday,...

Cost: free

Where:
Loft Gallery at The Smithy
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: Loft Gallery at The Smithy
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
Website »

More information

Joan Morosani and Susan Spencer are excited and honored to be showing together for the third time at OWL. They draw from different approaches and traditions, but feel that their paintings perfectly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Victoria Kiszka
Website »

More information

Scott Bond is pleased to announce three events to be celebrated with an opening reception on Friday August 24 from 6-8pm at “Byrde + the b” a full service hair salon, art gallery and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
View map »


Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
Website »

More information

Washington Photographer Philip Dutton’s dramatic photos document The Chief Bigfoot Memorial Ride of 1990, a momentous event that helped commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Massacre at...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 186-086-87586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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Cost: free

Where:
The Smithy
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
View map »


Sponsor: The Smithy
Telephone: (860)868-9003
Contact Name: susan
Website »

More information

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Cost: free

Where:
Center School, Litchfield
West & Woodruff Street
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View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Farmers Market
Telephone: (860) 000-0000
Contact Name: Kay Carroll, Market Master
Website »

More information

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Cost: Freewill Offering with suggested donation $20

Where:
St. Michael's Parish
25 South Street
Just off the Litchfield Green
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: St. Michaels-Litchfield
Telephone: 860-567-4456
Contact Name: Jo Ann Jaacks
Website »

More information

YOUR CHANCE FOR AN EXCLUSIVE LOOK AT SOME OF WASHINGTON'S MOST INTRIGUING PROPERTIES! This self-guided tour features eco-friendly and architecturally significant houses, plus Back 40 Farm....

Cost: $50.00

Where:
Various Locations
Washington, CT


Sponsor: Washington Environmental Council
Telephone: 860-717-0819
Website »

More information

Joan Morosani and Susan Spencer are excited and honored to be showing together for the third time at OWL. They draw from different approaches and traditions, but feel that their paintings perfectly...

Cost: Free

Where:
Oliver Wolcott Library
160 South St
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Oliver Wolcott Library
Telephone: 860-567-8030
Contact Name: Victoria Kiszka
Website »

More information

Celebrate the apple harvest the old fashioned way! The Litchfield Historical Society invites the community to the First Annual Apple Harvest Festival on Saturday, September 29, 2018 from 1 to 5...

Cost: Free!

Where:
Tapping Reeve Meadow
82 South Street
Litchfield, CT  06759
View map »


Sponsor: Litchfield Historical Society
Telephone: 860-567-4501
Contact Name: Kate Zullo
Website »

More information

The Loft Gallery welcomes an exhibit of large-scale landscape and gardenscape paintings by South Kent CT artist, Lisa Brody. This show opens on Saturday, September 1st, and runs through Sunday,...

Cost: free

Where:
Loft Gallery at The Smithy
10 Main Street
New Preston, CT  06777
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Sponsor: Loft Gallery at The Smithy
Telephone: 860-868-9003
Contact Name: Susan Newbury
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St. Michael’s-Litchfield will present a special observance for their patronal saint on Saturday, September 29 at 5:00p.m.  The lively program, which includes the Black Rock Brass...

Cost: Freewill Offering

Where:
St. Michael's Parish
25 South Street
Just off the Litchfield Green
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Sponsor: St. Michael's-Litchfield
Telephone: 860-567-4456
Contact Name: Jo Ann Jaacks
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In Italian cuisine, a ragù is a meat-based sauce, which is commonly served with pasta or polenta. Traditional recipes are all meat-based and can be a mixtures of beef, chicken, pork, duck,...

Cost: $95

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Rd
New Milford, CT  06776
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Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860-355-0300
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Scott Bond is pleased to announce three events to be celebrated with an opening reception on Friday August 24 from 6-8pm at “Byrde + the b” a full service hair salon, art gallery and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Byrde + the b
10 Titus Road
Washington Depot, CT  06794
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Sponsor: Byrde + the b
Telephone: 212 255 6247
Contact Name: Steven Miller
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Washington Photographer Philip Dutton’s dramatic photos document The Chief Bigfoot Memorial Ride of 1990, a momentous event that helped commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Massacre at...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library
5 Wykeham Road
Washington, CT  06793
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Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 186-086-87586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey
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The Farm-Fresh Market was created in 2007 with 15 local vendors, and has grown over the years to become a staple of the Litchfield Hills community throughout all seasons. We were so proud to be...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Center School Parking Lot
Woodruff Lane
Litchfield, CT  06759
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Telephone: 860-567-3871
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