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Shelton's Jones Family Farms Transforms For The Christmas Tree Rush

Wine tasting at Jones Family Farms
Wine tasting at Jones Family Farms Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Mike Hollis and Brian Soliwoda, both of New York City, Nina Wehry of Waterbury and Griffin Hollis of Orlando, Florida, taste wine at Jones Family Farms.
Mike Hollis and Brian Soliwoda, both of New York City, Nina Wehry of Waterbury and Griffin Hollis of Orlando, Florida, taste wine at Jones Family Farms. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

SHELTON, Conn. — The Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing aren’t even in the oven yet, but employees are gearing up for the Christmas tree rush at Jones Family Farms in Shelton.

The farm plans to open for tree business on Nov. 21, said farm manager Tom Harbinson.

“Some people want to get them up before Thanksgiving,” he said of the trees. “A tree that has been harvested and well-tended to will last you two months.”

Last Friday, guests enjoyed the warmth of the Jones Winery, which was holding the last of its wine-tasting weekends for the year. This week, the winery’s attractive 19th-century dairy barn will magically transform into a holiday wonderland of ornaments, decorations and other Christmas treats.

“This will be totally different,” said Harbinson, who noted wine will still be available for sale after the regular wine tastings end for a few months.

Tree-seekers will be able to tromp through the fields and harvest their own trees or choose from a wide selection of pre-cut trees in several barns on the property. Those who harvest their own receive a free pewter ornament made in Connecticut specially for Jones Family Farms.

In addition to a thriving pick-your-own fruit business in the summer and pumpkins in the fall, the farm hosts a series of popular cooking classes.

The 2016 schedule, including cooking education and wine education offerings, will be announced in December and registration opens on Groundhog Day.

The cooking classes follow the seasons and start with a trip to the farm’s vegetable garden, where students see what’s available any given month.

“Sometimes we have people who’ve never had a garden. Some people have never been in a garden,” Harbinson said.

During the Christmas season, the parking lot fills with cars with New York license plates, and celebrities have been spotted picking up their holiday trees and wreaths. Filmmaker Spike Lee stopped by a few years ago, and both Martha Stewart and Bobby Flay have filmed segments of holiday specials on the grounds.

“I’ve always loved Jones,” said Griffin Hollis, sipping a glass of Strawberry Serenade on a windy Friday.

Hollis was visiting family in town last weekend and stopped in with friends.

“We’ve done this for years now. We keep coming back.”

Jones Family Farms will be open for Christmas trees from Nov. 21 through Dec. 24. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The farm will close at 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Payment for harvest-your-own trees is cash or check only and the farm provides saws. The farm takes credit cards for pre-cut trees. For more information, visit www.jonesfamilyfarms.com .

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