Everything’s Coming up Rosé
Two of the things Michael Connery likes most about his second-chapter vocation as a vineyard owner are the view and “that sense of creating something tangible.”
They’d barely finished renovating the WWII-era private airplane hangar into a tasting room, barely planted their first vines, when they hosted a beautiful September wedding for friends — and unwittingly turned their budding winery, Saltwater Farm Vineyard in Stonington, Connecticut, into a sought-after wedding venue. Demand is so high that, two decades later, Michael Connery ’75 JD and his wife, Merrily, find themselves opening a second vineyard and event venue, Kingdom of the Hawk, in North Stonington, a few miles inland.
It all started with a listing for 108 acres on the Stonington coastline that Michael, poised for a “next chapter” after 30 years as an attorney in Manhattan, suspected would be as good a host to French grapes as the soil across the bay on the North Fork of Long Island. “If they can do it there ...” he surmised. And he was right. The Connerys have harvested cabernet franc, merlot, pinot noir, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc grapes, and learned that merlot doesn’t winter as well in Stonington as it does on Long Island. But sauvignon blanc does even better.
That matters little to the wedding parties. They are as taken with the greens and golds of the marsh grasses and grape vines, the spectacular sunsets, and ubiquitous egrets and osprey, as the Connerys were when they bought the place. The once decrepit airplane hangar is now a timber-trussed tasting room where wine casks transform into band backdrops and retro twinkle lights create electric arbors. “Our couples return with their newborns,” says Merrily, “and now some of the newborns are getting ready to go to high school.” Perhaps they’ll have their weddings at Kingdom of the Hawk.
By Lisa Stiepock
Photo by Peter Morenus