A few years ago, Granby’s own Michelle Niedermeyer, owner along with Kevin Riggott of Lost Acres Vineyard, was instrumental in the formation of a Connecticut Wine Country Passport Program in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and the Winery Council. Once obtained, the physical “passport” would be stamped at each participating winery. When a certain number of stamps were obtained, the passport holder would be eligible for a variety of prizes. The program marketed the state’s beautiful wineries, attracting new customers.
The Covid-19 years substantially disrupted the program but, once again, Niedermeyer had an idea. She wondered if it would be possible to make the passport program into an app, and working with the same groups, she recently noted, “We’ve done it!” The program was formed with funding from the Connecticut Farm Wine Development Council through Community Investment Act dollars.
In honor of national Chardonnay Day, Connecticut re-launched its wine passport program as an app on May 26 at Lost Acres Vineyard. Lt. Governor Susan Bysiewicz and Department of Agriculture Commissioner Bryan Hurlburt attended, along with Jaime Smith, Rebecca Eddy and Ally Hughes of the Department of Agriculture and Hilary Criollo of Hopkins Vineyard, president of the Connecticut Winery Association. After touring the Lost Acres facility and grounds, the official launch was held, filmed by and later presented on local NBC evening news.
The app is available at no cost through App Store and Google Play. Simply search for CT Wine Passport and download. Anyone over 21 years of age can participate, and no purchase is necessary to collect a digital stamp.
The app allows the user to create an itinerary by region or product. You collect stamps, and earn rewards that will be entered in the prize drawings. Prizes will be focused on Connecticut destinations and businesses that support local economies that have been impacted by the pandemic: hotels, spas, restaurants, theaters and places that make specialty foods such as chocolates and cheeses. More than 60 prizes are planned, totaling over $10,000. There will be a special commemorative gift for the first 50 users to visit all 35 participating locations.
Bysiewicz is enthused about the app passport program because it encourages people not only from Connecticut but from out of state to visit the wineries and see historic places, beautiful scenery and patronize its excellent restaurants. She was particularly struck by the fact that Lost Acres Vineyard supports artists with ongoing exhibits.
First Selectman Mark Fiorentino echoed Bysiewicz’s comments and noted that the program is good not only for Lost Acres, but also for many of Granby’s businesses as it will bring people from all over New England to our town.
Niedermeyer commented, “There’s something so special and cool to discover at each winery and that’s what makes them so much fun.” Hurlburt said, “It’s a win-win for the farmers, too!”
For more information, visit CTWineCountry.com or check out @ctfarmwineries on Instagram or @ctfarmwineries on Facebook.