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Wine bars of Litchfield County
Litchfield County boasts several wine bars where you can follow the enviable European tradition of luxuriating over a glass of wine and a small bite before dinner. In New Preston, check out The Owl, tucked away in a renovated historical building perched above the town center. Owner John Bourdeau transformed this tiny space (it seats 26) into an intimate space, where you can often find him holding forth on his favorite subjects: wine and cooking. In spring and summer, the crowd spills outside on to the bamboo-shaded patio, which sometimes doubles as a stage for live music. The wine list changes monthly, as does the menu, which may feature Pho one month and BBQ another.
More elbow room can be found at the Hayloft, located just above the Hopkin’s Vineyard’s tasting room. The cafe-style bar is set in a rustic 19th century barn with spectacular views of Lake Waramaug. With live music and a host of vineyard activities, including painting lessons (presumably, the wine releases your inner creative spirit), the place has a bustling vibe. The wine list features the vineyard’s varieties; light bites include local cheeses and charcuterie plates, soups, and breads.
Farther north, in the heart of Sharon, The Porchlight opened last year in an elegantly renovated building just a stone’s throw from the town green. Sipping a glass of merlot on the porch is sublime in summer and spring; on chillier evenings, people gather inside, where the lighting is warm, and the atmosphere convivial. The wine list features varieties from Europe, as well as out West. The “plates” section is eclectic; some items, like the flatbread topped with cheese, pears, and arugula, is a meal in itself.