Calling winemakers: Homemade wine contest returns

Published on Wednesday, 5 July 2017 20:46


SOUTHINGTON -Entries are being accepted now through July 19 for the homemade wine contest, returning for the 10th year to the Southington Italian-American Festival.

The Italian-American Festival Committee of Southington and grape distributor Northeast Produce from Hartford will host the 10th homemade wine contest July 29 at 2 p.m. during the festival on Center Street. Winners will be announced that day and need not be present to win. The contest is chaired by Tony Cusano and Luigi Barbato, who founded the event.

Antonietta Barbato, contest coordinator, said the wine will be judged by appearance, aroma, taste, aftertaste and overall impression. There will be a total of 10 judges, including a professional winemaker from a Connecticut vineyard.

“This contest started 10 years ago and it is a fun event,” she said. “Winemaking has become a popular hobby. Not only is it a fun and learning experience that brings family and friends together, but it’s a part of the Italian tradition. This exciting time is when the wine is ready to taste after six months or more of fermentation.”

Barbato said that the contest draws an average of 40 contestants, including some regular participants and a handful of newcomers each year. Awards will be given for both red and white wine, with first place receiving a $100 gift certificate for Northeast Produce and a medal, second place receiving a $50 gift certificate and medal and third place receiving a $25 gift certificate and medal. In addition to being able to purchase grapes at Northeast Produce, the distributor also sells supplies for winemaking and will teach people who are interested how to make wine.

“If you want a stronger wine you will have it ferment for longer,” said Luigi Barbato. “If you want a sweeter wine you will have it ferment for less time.”

Antonietta Barbato noted that Luigi Barbato has been a winemaker himself for many years and experiments with mixing different grapes, such as Zinfandel, Merlot, Pinot Noir and others.

There is no entry fee to participate in the wine contest. Wine must be made from grapes only. Contestants may submit more than one bottle as long as it is a different make of wine or year. Submissions can be either red or white wine, and red and white wine will be judged separately.

Bottles can be dropped off at Northeast Produce Regional Market, at 101 Reserve Rd., Hartford, or the Northeast Produce Regional Market, at 10 Robert Jackson Way, Plainville, during the week from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. They can also be dropped off at Verizon Wireless, at 750 Queen St., in the Shop Rite Plaza in Southington from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information, contact Tony Cusano at 860-681-3451, Luigi Barbato at 860-628-2241, Matthew Lopreiato at 860-620-1919 or Tony Perone at 203-235-2703.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, General News, Southington Herald on Wednesday, 5 July 2017 20:46. Updated: Wednesday, 5 July 2017 20:49.