By Francois Steichen
For many, “Dry January” extends into February and March. Yet while consumers may have been hibernating from liquid pleasures, the wine and beer industry in the area has been hard at work preparing for spring. Let’s take a look at what’s going on around town as well as further up the line:
Old Greenwich Wine Merchants pulled off a coup this week, hiring Chris Vellozzi as its new Manager.
The cross-town move from Glenville Wine & Spirits makes a lot of sense. For Chris, the change marks a return to wine & beer procurement and larger marketing & development responsibilities.
Chris co-owned the enormously successful Castle Wines in Westport before selling it in 2019. For OGWM, hiring Chris marks another step in their steady, remarkable growth in Old Greenwich, at a location that had not been as lucky for previous owners. We wish Chris all the best in his new position, and congratulate OGWM for their smart choice! I will have a feature on Chris and his new position this week.
This coming weekend, April 22 – 24, marks the Grand Opening of Armada Brewing’s first tap room. The tap room is located next to Criscuolo Park, in the Fair Haven section of New Haven, in an old brick manufacturing building that was the source of some controversy, since it was coveted by Los Angeles movie-producing interests.
The Connecticut Beer Trade has been cheering Armada to this goal for a long time: Armada was a leader among projects at one of Connecticut’s great beer incubators, Beeracks, in East Haven. The 4 mile move west marks Armada Owner John Kraszewski’s step up from greatly-respected-but-somewhat-underground hero of Connecticut beer fanatics to a brewer with a bricks-and-mortar home in one of the hippest sections of New Haven.
Up-to-the-minute information, as well as parking lot directions, can be found on Armada’s Facebook page.
The When Pigs Fly Bacon & Beer Fest takes place this Saturday at the New England Air Museum, adjacent to Bradley International Airport. The address is: 36 Perimeter Road, in Windsor Locks. This event will be a blast for aviation and beer fans, with food abundantly supplied. Tickets are $79 per person, and include beer tables for 23 of Connecticut’s finest breweries, plus 2 from neighboring Massachusetts, including Jack’s Abby. Information at: https://whenpigsflybb.com.
The Study Fine Wines, a quiet leader in the Greenwich wine scene, has brought back its 3:00 to 6:00 PM Friday wine tastings.
The Study is also offering very timely classes on some of the biggest trends in wine and spirits. The title of their class program – “Wine for Jugheads: Educating without Snobbery” – is a provocation, and I would guess purposely so. Good on them! Pinot Noir: April 28; Tequila: May 26; and Rosé: July 21. All classes are from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. $35 – 50 per person.
Horseneck Wines hosted Kevin Zraly, author of the seminal “Windows on the World Wine Course,” on March 31st at Burning Tree. Horseneck is also featuring a splashy blind wine tasting to take place in July. More info as I get it!
The most original brewery/bakery/winery/orchard in the State (like… it’s not even close) – OEC Brewing, in Oxford, CT – periodically gives one of the greatest tour values anywhere: their grand “Eccentric Tour,” that includes visits to their brewhouse, smokehouse, herb garden, orchard, vineyard, barrel cellar, fermentation cellar, apiary, bakery and underground fermentation works (whew…!) Tickets for their May 24th Tour are already sold out, but if you want one of the funnest experiences in the State, get on their website now for tickets to their July 23rd or September 24th Tours. http://wp.oecbrewing.com/oec-brewing-tours-the-eccentric-tour/. The Cost is $75; it includes a Growler & a take-home 4-pack!
The Connecticut Craft Beer Grand Prix takes place Memorial Weekend. I will have more info on this as we get closer, but in the meantime, you can learn about this combo of car show and beer at: https://www.facebook.com/CTBrewersGuild/events. You just know this event is going to make you giggle-snort. Gives a whole new meaning to “you can drink, but don’t drive!”
François Steichen founded and owns Frenchy’s Wine Road, a Connecticut company that writes copy and content for the wine, spirits and cider industries.
He is a resident of Old Greenwich with 15 years’ experience in the Wine Industry. François started at Harry’s Wines in Fairfield; worked at Acker, Merrall and Condit, in New York, the oldest wine store in America; and has managed stores in Greenwich.
François holds the WSET Diploma, the gold standard in wine education. At 10 years of age, François took his first – chaperoned – sip of a sparkling wine. Since that moment, the magic of fermentation and spontaneously-produced bubbles has never truly relinquished its hold on his curiosity.