A Trail of Happiness: The CT Wine Trail

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One of the many signs for the CT Wine Trail. Photo by: Ryan Jacobson

Established in 1988, the Connecticut Wine Trail is a state approved winery and vineyard awareness program. Wine lovers can visit  25 unique vineyards on the CT Wine Tour, which is divided into two sections, east and west. In addition to the 25 vineyards on the official wine tour, CT is also home to many other farm wineries and vineyards throughout the state. The Connecticut Department of Agriculture has a detailed list of each of the vineyards, as well as links to permits and licenses for each. The CT Department of Agriculture also has information for each vineyard, such as hours, directions, and a brief description of each vineyards unique wines/menus.


“The Connecticut Wine Tour is a fantastic way to spend a beautiful summer’s weekend while spending quality time with family members or friends” says Danielle Brandts, tasting room manager at Jonathan Edwards Winery in North Stonington, CT, a must-visit location on the CT Wine Trail. “The wine trail brings all types of visitors, from wine connoisseur’s and dating couples, to bachelorette parties, and girls weekend getaways.

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Jonathan Edwards Winery, a popular destination along the CT Wine Trail. Photo by: Ryan Jacobson


Due to recent change in many state’s wine shipping laws, vineyards along the CT Wine Trail are now allowed to begin shipping their wine to more visitors that purchase wine while on the trail. Just recently, Rhode Island began allowing it’s residents to receive wine shipments in the mail.



The CT Wine Trail also offers incentives for visitors to check out as many of the vineyards as possible. The CT Wine Trail Passport Program, available for free at any of the participating vineyards, offers wine-lovers a chance to win some amazing prizes for visiting at least 16 of the CT Wine Trail vineyards. Prizes include a two-week all inclusive vacation to Spain, a chauffeured limo ride on the wine trail for you and seven friends, overnight stays at local hotels, and of course, bottles of your favorite CT wine.

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CT Wine Trail Passport and wine samples. Photo by: Ryan Jacobson

            Rebecca Gallucci, self-proclaimed wine lover, and frequent visitor of the CT Wine Trail admits, “I fill up my wine passport every summer, but am still holding out hope for that trip to Spain. Even if there were no prizes available, I would still be sure to visit my favorite vineyards on the trail, just to catch up with old friends, and taste all the new offerings.”



When asked what her favorite part of the wine trail was, Gallucci said, “Getting to try so many new wines that I would not normally have tasted if I were to order them out at a restaurant. The samples are perfect for tastings, and helping you decide which bottles you would like to purchase.”

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A typical wine sampling size found along the CT Wine Trail. Photo by: Ryan Jacobson


Summer in New England is quickly approaching, and after one of the worst winters in history, New Englanders will be itching to get out of the house. The CT Wine Trail is the perfect way to spend some time with loved ones, while experiencing the beauty of Connecticut and the delicious wines it has to offer.

5 Tips for Getting on a Reality TV Show

With the new season of Big Brother right around the corner, CBS is on the trail to find a new batch of housemates to inhabit their pad for the summer. This Thursday, Twin River Casino, in Lincoln, RI, is holding open casting calls for hopefuls attempting to move in to the Big Brother house for the seventeenth season.


Ryan’s Countdowns has met with former houseguest, Michelle Costa from season ten, to find out the best tips for becoming one of the latest houseguests to vie for the $500,000 prize.


Michelle Costa, Big Brother 10 – Ryan Jacobson 

5 Tips for becoming the next reality star.

  1. Be Memorable – No matter what happens in your interview, be memorable. “One of the worst things you can do, is be forgettable”, says Costa. “Castings Directors are looking for people that viewers will either love or hate, and being forgettable is the single worst thing that you can do at an open casting call or when taping a casting video.”
  1. Don’t censor yourself – Producers are looking for people that will be open and honest about their lives. “Viewers at home want to be able to relate to the houseguests they are watching all summer. Casting directors have a ton of experience, and know when people are telling the truth”, says Costa. “If you censor yourself during the casting process, you are bound to be outted along the way.”
  1. Personality is a must – Do not be afraid to show your personality. “Viewers at home will want to watch a reality show with contestants that have a hearty amount of personality”, says Costa. Make sure your personality stands out from all your competition, and make sure you stand out as someone that is truly entertaining.
  1. Do not be afraid of what others think – If you worry about what the casting directors, producers, or fellow applicants are thinking of you, there is no way you will be able to handle the pressure of what viewers think of you. “People are going to judge you, and viewers will point out your biggest faults. That is what comes with the territo
    ry of being on reality TV. If you can’t handle worrying about what the producers think about you, there is little doubt you will be able to handle what the at home viewers will think about you” says Costa.
  1. Be Yourself – “The casting process is extensive and evasive” says Costa. “If you are not honest in the beginning, the casting directors or producers will discover all of your lies no matter how small they are. They are trained at discovering who is being honest, and they will catch any of your fibs, no matter how insignificant of inconsequential you think they are.”

Bottom line: Be yourself; if they are looking for someone like you, they will want you to continue along in the casting process, and if they are not looking for someone like you, do not give up hope; just because you may not be right for this season, does not mean they will not find a spot for you the following season.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Misquamicut Beach this Summer


Misquamicut Beach, 2015: Photo by Ryan Jacobson

            Misquamicut Beach, located in Westerly, Rhode Island has seen its fair share of distress throughout the past few years. From Hurricane Sandy, which destroyed most of it businesses, to multiple blizzards and volatile weather. Yet, despite all it has endured, Misquamicut has rebuilt, and is as beautiful and popular as ever. But, with so many beaches in Rhode Island, and neighboring Connecticut, to choose from, why visit Misquamicut this summer?

  1. Live Music

What is better than live, outdoor music? How about live outdoor music while sipping a cocktail and listening to the crashing of the waves, as you are relaxing on the beach?

“Misquamicut is quickly becoming very well known for its live music” says Erin Burke, bartender at one of Misquamicut’s most popular bars, The Windjammer.

Every Monday evening, from June to late August, Westerly Town Beach hosts, Monday Night Jams, which invites locals to have a relaxing picnic on the beach with friends and family, as they listen to some of the best local music. In addition, Westerly Town Beach hosts the wildly popular Blues on the Beach Wednesday nights.

“People come from all over Rhode Island, and Connecticut for Blues on the Beach. Most of the crowd walks down to The Windjammer after the show is done, because they are having so much fun, and do not want the night to end” says Burke.

Whether it is live music on the beach, or live entertainment on the outdoor patios at one of the restaurants or bars, there is something that fits just about everyone’s music preference during the summer months in Misquamicut.

  1. Entertainment for the whole family.

Misquamicut Beach can keep an entire family entertained for days. Waterslides, mini golf, go-karts, bumper boats, arcades, batting cages, and rides, are just a few of the activities that kids of all ages can enjoy at Misquamicut Beach. In addition to these attractions, Misquamicut Beach also hosts a weekly Drive-In Movie, and movies on the beach, which features family friendly films, including the always popular, Jaws.

“Waterslides are not just for kids, I have many customers coming to grab a frozen Pina Colada or Strawberry Daiquiri after spending an exhausting 40 minutes on the waterslides” says Burke. “In fact, a lot of employees love to take a ride on the waterslides to cool off after a long shift.”

  1. The Beach Bars

-The Windjammer in the winter. Preparing to open their doors for the 2015 season.

Misquamicut is home to some of the best beach front bars in Southern New England. Bars such as Paddy’s, The Andrea, and The Windjammer, have New Englanders driving hours just to visit their favorite summertime hangouts.

“We have a few regulars that come every week, and they live in Northern Massachusetts. They drive 4-5 hours, not including traffic, just to be here” says Burke.

Each of the restaurants/bars are unique in their own way, and there is a place for you to feel welcomed and at home, no matter what age you are. Beach goers of all ages flock to Misquamicut for a relaxing afternoon in the sun.

  1. Spring/Fall Fest

Summer in Misquamicut is bookmarked by two huge events; the Spring Fest, and Fall Fest. At each of the events, the State Beach parking lot is transformed into an amusement park on the beach. Amusement rides, petting zoos, and car shows, are just a few of the exciting activities offered at Spring/Fall fest. There are also food vendors, live entertainment, and of course, fire works.

“Spring Fest is really a kick off party to summer” says Burke. Once we see the carousel erected, we know that summer has un-officially arrived.”

For more information on this year’s Spring Fest and Fall Fest, click here.

  1. The Beaches/Surf

Despite all that Misquamicut has to offer, what attract the most visitors is simply the beautiful beaches. Misquamicut has some of the best beaches in Southern New England, and is one of the best surfing spots around. With breathtaking views of Block Island, Long Island, and even Taylor Swift’s mansion in Watch Hill (which is a part of Westerly), Misquamicut is simply the ideal summertime getaway for families, singles, and people of all ages.

“I often tell people that if one of the biggest celebrities in the entire world chooses to make Westerly home for the summer months, there must be something very special about this place.” Says Burke.