Happy Hours: Stonington Vineyard Festival helps out the Garde

Happy Smith enjoys a moment on the gazebo at Stonington Vineyards, prior to the start of the Summer Wine Festival to benefit the Garde Arts Center of New London.
Happy Smith enjoys a moment on the gazebo at Stonington Vineyards, prior to the start of the Summer Wine Festival to benefit the Garde Arts Center of New London. Seth Jacobson photo

The sun shone down on Stonington Vineyard's 16th annual Summer Wine Festival in late July, as it has most every year. Vineyard owners Nick and Happy Smith have had such a run of good weather, in fact, that Happy isn't even worried about jinxing it.

"I'm 74, so I figure we're due at some point," she laughed.

But for now the couple is using their abundant good luck to benefit a beloved community gathering place — a part of the proceeds from admission to the vineyard's summer and upcoming fall festival are donated to The Garde Arts Center in downtown New London.

"My feeling is very strong about supporting a local business that focuses on the arts. Our strengths should stick together in a local area," Happy said. "And frankly, working with those two [Executive Director Steve Sigel and Director of Development Jeanne Sigel] is just a treasure. Their effort to create a place that the community can call their own is remarkable."

The Garde's 'everyone who spins, wins' prize wheel proved quite a hit among patrons at the summer event. Visitors walked away with gifts cards from 2Wives Pizza and Muddy Waters cafe, Northern Light Gems, the Shops at Mohegan Sun, discounts from Blue Prints Unlimited and free tickets to shows at the Garde.

Expect a repeat performance at the fall festival, where $1 from every ticket sold goes to the Garde.

"We value partnerships like ours with Stonington Vineyards to expand our reach while bringing the cultural assets of the region closer together," said Steve Sigel. "We are very excited to be included in this fabulous event."

Kelly Nixon, Amanda Ruzzo and Molly Engels, all of Boston, first attended the festival as
part of a bachelorette party, and returned this year because they “loved” the experience, they said.
Kelly Nixon, Amanda Ruzzo and Molly Engels, all of Boston, first attended the festival as part of a bachelorette party, and returned this year because they “loved” the experience, they said. Seth Jacobson photo
Josh Main pours a glass of the vineyard’s award-winning cabernet.
Josh Main pours a glass of the vineyard’s award-winning cabernet. Seth Jacobson photo
Paula Macleod, wife of Johnny of Johnny and
the East Coast Rockers, soaks in the sun as the band prepares to take the stage.
Paula Macleod, wife of Johnny of Johnny and the East Coast Rockers, soaks in the sun as the band prepares to take the stage. Seth Jacobson photo
Cindy Dunne, on break working the table for
Norm’s Best Specialty Food Products of Putnam, can’t wait to see what she won at The Garde’s prize wheel.
Cindy Dunne, on break working the table for Norm’s Best Specialty Food Products of Putnam, can’t wait to see what she won at The Garde’s prize wheel. Seth Jacobson photo

GET UP AND GO

What: 16th annual FALL Wine
and Food Festival
When: Saturday & Sunday,
Sept. 15-16
Expect: Wine tastings, food
vendors, live music
Can't make it? The vineyard
is open seven days a week
year-round
Tickets: $14 in advance; $16 at
the door; includes tasting of all
vineyard wines and a souvenir
glass. 17 and younger admitted
free.
For directions or more info:
www.stoningtonvineyards.com
800.421.9463

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