Priam Vineyards: Vegan-certified wine plus a lineup of summer fun
In 2010, Priam Vineyards installed solar panels on its 40-acre farm, becoming what’s believed to be the first solar-powered winery in New England.
More recently, the Colchester winery celebrated another first: It has been certified as vegan-friendly by the BevVeg! label for vegan beverages, food and consumer products.
Many wine producers use animal-derived substances to help filter their wines in the clarifying, or “fining” process, like casein, egg albumen, gelatin and bone marrow. Priam’s winemaker Ruaan Viljoen avoids any animal products for his process, instead choosing materials like pea or potato protein, bentonite, mannoprotein or using cold stabilization techniques. The winery is the first and so far only in Connecticut to receive this distinction, Viljoen said.
Gloria Priam and her former husband/business partner founded the winery in 1998, opening in 2003 for retail sales and welcoming visitors to its tasting room and picturesque grounds. In addition to the winery offerings, Priam and co-owner Jim Melillo now oversee a booming event business, as the vineyard has become a popular venue for weddings and corporate and private parties.
FEATURED AND NOTEWORTHY WINES: Priam’s wines have earned multiple international awards, including a slew of recent double gold, gold and silver medals from the 2019 International Eastern Wine Competition. The riesling is one of its top wines, an off-dry version with pear and citrus on the palate and a finish with “creamy pineapple and light crisp grapefruit.” Food pairing suggestions include seafood and sweet and spicy dishes.
The Westchester Red, a semisweet red blend of St. Croix, merlot and cabernet sauvignon, is enjoyed year-round, served chilled in summertime and as the base of mulled wine in the tasting room in the winter.
The wine was designed with Priam customers in mind, Gloria said. “People would come in and say, ‘I don’t really like reds, they’re too tannic.'” They came up with a sweeter aged red “that has some sophistication to it,” she said, and now “it flies off the shelves.”
Priam’s Gewurztraminer, described as “a crisp, minerally, beautifully fragrant and floral, Alsatian style white,” is another winery favorite, though not currently available. A bourbon barrel-aged St. Croix, which has won four international gold medals, features a palate of “ripe blackberry and mulberry, praline, mocha and subtle smokiness.”
Priam also offers two versions of rosé: a semisweet Blackledge Rosé with flavors of Bing cherry, tart cranberry, raspberry and toffee apple, and a drier Salmon River Rosé with a crisp finish, conveying “delicate fresh raspberry and lemon mouth feel.”
Other selections include a barrel-fermented chardonnay, the St. Croix blend Blackledge Red and the Salmon River red, a blend of St. Croix and cabernet sauvignon.
FOOD: Priam sells packaged snacks like meats and cheeses in its tasting room areas, and encourages guests to bring picnics to be enjoyed outside on the patio (no outside food in the tasting room.) The winery also offers occasional organized tasting events, featuring its wines paired with Cato Corner cheese and handcrafted cookie dough from DoughLuv, both neighboring Colchester businesses.
PRICING: Priam offers three levels of tastings. A Level One tasting, for $10, includes four preselected wines and an 11-ounce white wine glass. A Level Two tasting, for $15, includes six preselected wines and a 16-ounce Bordeaux glass. Diamond Level Three for $20 includes eight preselected wines, including Priam reserve wine; an 18-ounce Bordeaux glass and chocolate. A chocolate and wine pairing for $25 includes five wines paired with five chocolates and an 11-ounce white wine glass.
Priam wines are $10 to $14 by the glass; $20 to $40 by the bottle. Glasses of red and white sangria are $10 apiece.
SPECIAL EVENTS: Priam hosts a Father’s Day barbecue June 16 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a catered lunch by Gourmet Galley (entree choice of pork ribs, hamburger or hot dogs) and a glass of wine. The winery’s UnWINEd concert series kicks off July 5 and runs through Aug. 23, with weekly Friday night events featuring live music, wine and food trucks. Tickets are $14 online; $16 at the gate.
TASTING ROOM HOURS: Priam is open Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. now through December. A happy hour runs from 4 to 7 p.m. every Friday night, with live music and bottle and glass discounts. From January through April, the winery is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Priam Vineyards is at 11 Shailor Hill Road in Colchester. 860-267-8520, priam-vineyards.com