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Wine and Cheese Festival this Sunday in Shelton

Terry Jones enjoys a glass of wine and local cheeses that will part of the festival. — Kate Czaplinsk

More than 20 Connecticut farms and artisanal food and drink purveyors will be setting up shop Sunday, Sept. 23, at Jones Family Farms for the inaugural Nutmegger Cheese & Wine Festival.

In the 1840s, Connecticut was the leading producer of cheese in the country, according to Shelton Farmer Terry Jones and, and dairy products are still an integral part of the state’s agriculture.

“We want to highlight all these innovative things happening through Connecticut farms, particularly in dairy, with cheeses, yogurt and ice cream,” Jones said. “We have a couple dozen different vendors coming who are all doing really cutting edge stuff.”

The vendors, offering samples of their goods and items for sale, include cheesemakers, chefs that use local product, wine-makers and more. Special guests include Gov. Dannel Malloy and Connecticut Commissioner of Agriculture Steven K. Reviczky, as well as Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheesemongers, and Jason Sobocinski of Caseus in New Haven.

Visitors will learn about all the state has to offer.

“Celebrate the artisanal food crafts of our farmers, created by their partnership with the soils and sunshine of our state to produce these flavorful Conecticut foods,” Jones writes of the festival. “We thank the goats, sheep and cows that are the essential partners of the cheesemakers. And, we appreciate the artistry of our winemakers and chefs that bring our homegrown flavors to a superb level of tasteful pleasure.”

Jones Farms is co-hosting the festival with the Working Lands Alliance, a coalition that champions policy and education initiatives to protect state farmland. Jones is a chair of the Working Lands Alliance. The ticket sales benefit the Working Lands Alliance and The Valley Initiative to Advance Health and Learning in Schools (VITAHLS). VITAHLS is a cooperative pilot program through Griffin Hospital that is working with five local school districts to develop and implement obesity prevention programs in the schools. Efforts include better nutrition education and finding ways to integrate more physical activity into the regular school day. Terry Jones is a member of the state Board of Education and an advocate for the VITAHLS program.

“The governor and I have talked about the VITAHLS program and it’s just great to see five school districts working together,” Jones said. “That’s the future of the state, collaboration and a sharing of resources.

The event

The festival starts at noon on Sunday and runs until 4 at Jones’ Pumpkinseed Hill Farm, 120 Beardsley Road. If it rains, the event will go on in the barn and under tents.

The festival includes vineyard tours, hayrides, cheesemaker talks, contests, book signings, live music with Ken Coulson & Gatsby’s Green Light, a silent auction and more.

Tickets are $50 in advance and $55 at the door. Kids under 12 are $10.

Jamie Jones and his father, Terry Jones in the vineyard at Jones Farms.The vendors include:

• Arethusa Farm

• Beltane Farm

• Bishop’s Orchards

• Culture Magazine

• Cato Corner Farm

• Butterfield Farm Company

• Caseus Fromagerie Bistro

• Fairfield Cheese Company

• Hopkins Vineyard

• Jones Family Farms

• M&K Dairy Ladies of Levita Road

• Meadow Stone Farm

• Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm

• Saxelby Cheesemongers

• Skinny Pines Brick Oven Caterer

• Sugar & Olives

• Sunset Meadow Vineyards

• Sully Woodcrafted

• Swords into Plowshares Honey and Candles

• The Farmer’s Cow

• Tulmeadow Farm

• Wave Hill Breads Bakery and Cafe.

Three unique experiences will be up for auction at the event. Festival-goers may bid on a farm lunch for up to 10 people with Gov. Malloy at Jones Family Farms’ Harvest Kitchen; brunch with Steven Reviczky, CT commissioner of agriculture, and his wife Jill at their home in Coventry, or breakfast with Stefan Pryor, state commissioner of education, at historic Clark’s Dairy in New Haven.

In memory

The 2012 Nutmegger Festival is dedicated to Sandy Rotival and his wife, Edith, of Woodstock, Conn. They loved Connecticut’s farms and forests and served as strong supporters of the efforts, according to Jones.

Several of the couple’s family members from France are flying in for the event.

To buy tickets in advance, visit jonesfamilyfarms.com/nutmegger-cheese-and-wine-festival and click on the ticket link, or visit workinglandsalliance.org. Tickets will also be sold that day. For more information call Leah Mayor of the Working Lands Alliance at 203-988-3270.

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