Jerry Savino always wanted to grow his own grapes and make and sell his own wine. He’s been running Savino Vineyards for 10 years.
Recently First Selectman Ellen Scalettar visited Savino Vineyards as part of the Economic Development Commission’s “Shop Woodbridge, Dine Woodbridge, Try Woodbridge” campaign. The campaign is designed to encourage Woodbridge residents to learn about and patronize local businesses.
Savino moved to Woodbridge in 1972. He owned several New Haven-area restaurants, including Galleria Restaurant, Recovery Room and Gennaro’s Apizza. He sold everything in 2000 and finally started planting grapes and making his own wine. “It started as a hobby and it grew little by little,” he told Scalettar. He began with 150 vines and now has 3,000 vines growing on eight acres next to his home on Ford Road. He grows seven types of grapes: Seyval Blanc, St. Croix, Frontenac, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cayuga White and Marquette. “How did you learn how to do this?” asked Scalettar.
Savino grew up in Italy and his parents owned a vineyard, he told Scalettar. “I always had this in the back of my mind.”
The vineyard’s tasting room is open May through November on the weekends. A tasting costs $9; or wine by the glass is $7. Savino sells an antipasto platter, and visitors are welcome to bring in their own food. Guests can sample 14 different wines made on site. Three of the wines–Seyval Blanc, St. Croix and Frontenac–are made exclusively from grapes grown on site. The others are Savino’s grapes blended with California grapes,because, “We could never produce enough here to make all our wines,” Savino says.
Last season, thanks to good weather, he grew five tons of grapes. The vineyard is a family affair–Savino’s two sons and daughter and their families all help out at harvest time in October. The wine is fermented all winter and bottled in May. Daughter-in-law Sonia Savino works in the tasting room and maintains the vineyard’s social media presence.
Savino showed Scalettar the 100-year-old barn behind their home that he converted into a wine-making operation. Wine ferments in stainless steel vats and a small machine can fill four bottles at a time. Another machine pops a cork into each bottle, one at a time. This May Savino says he will fill 3,000 bottles.
The vineyard is located at 128 Ford Road. For more information about Savino Vineyards, visit the website www.savinovineyards.com.