Rich Terroir, Rich History
A SENSE OF PLACE
Priam Vineyards was first established in 1998, in 2002 became a licensed farm winery, opening the winery for retail sales in April of 2003, and in September 2010, they became the first winery in New England to be completely solar powered. The vineyard was named in honor of Gloria’s grandfather, Andrew Priam, whose vineyard and land was taken from him during the Russian Revolution in Hungary in the early 1900′s.
The name “Priam” associates back to Greek mythology, where Priam was the King of Troy, the father of Paris, and brother of Helen of Troy. Although the vineyard and winery have not existed for centuries, there are numerous, fascinating stories of the development of the business, the vineyard, and property. It has been an ongoing adventure and it is truly a magical place!
Priam Vineyards’ 40 acre farm has 12,000 grapevines in production, with a breathtaking 35 mile view of the New England countryside.
Our vineyard benefits from the unique microclimate of the hills of New London County, just 15 miles from Long Island Sound, where we grow classic European varietals: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat and Merlot as well as American hybrids: Cayuga and St. Croix. The rich gravelly soil mimics that of Graves, France. The climate is very similar to the Alsatian region of northern France and Germany. This combination along with the sloping hillside and constant breeze provide the perfect climate for these varietals. As environmentalists, we practice sustainable agriculture, propagating bluebirds rather than using insecticides, to maintain a healthy vineyard. The 40 acre farm has been certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a natural bird and wildlife habitat.
A sense of place...
“Terroir” comes from the word “terre” or “land”, a French term in wine used to denote the special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place bestows upon particular produce, which then contribute to the unique qualities of the crop. It can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place,” which is embodied in certain characteristic qualities, the sum of the effects that the local environment has had on the production of the product.
The property has a rich geological history. The vineyard is sitting on an accretionary wedge, which was formed through the convergence of Africa and North America 25,000 years ago. It consists of marine sediments scraped off from the downgoing slab of oceanic crust, which at the time was the Iapetus Ocean, now the Atlantic Ocean. The Iapetus Ocean was an ocean that existed in the Neoproterozoic and Paleozoic eras of the geologic timescale (between 600 and 400 million years ago). It disappeared when Africa shifted into North America, pushing the microcontinent Avalonia (at present is scattered over the east of New England) into the coastline. Africa then regressed, leaving some of the African continent, as well as all of Avalonia, attached to the east coast, and the sea bottom of the Iapetus Ocean pushed to an area about 15 miles off the coast, to as far as Hartford. There are deposits of this rich ocean bottom that create Priam Vineyards, making our wine rich in mineral background and acidity.
In 2012 Priam Vineyards was honored to be one of the sites selected by the US Geological Society for a study they were doing on CT. Terroir. The dig performed in our vineyard revealed an abundance of information as to the characteristics of our wines, notedly their beautiful, crisp, mineral background, and extraordinary acidic balance. Take a look at the attached PDF to learn more about it.
US Geological Society Terroir Guidebook