One of the state’s few Centennial Farms, Hopkins Vineyard started out growing corn, tobacco, and hay. In their near 230 year history of farming, family members also raised horses and ran a dairy farm. But in 1979, in a very gutsy move, Bill Hopkins plowed his fields, sold his cattle and started growing grapes, becoming one of the first wineries in the state. The vineyard started with just two wines: a red and a white. Now, the Hopkins family grows 11 different varieties of grapes and makes 15 different types of wine. Winemaker Jim Baker is especially proud of his award-winning Ice Wine.
Tim Byrne moved to Connecticut from Dublin in 1987 to make a better life for himself. After 6 years working construction, he started making furniture using pieces from abandoned mills and factories – a style he created called “Vintage Industrial.” Now, his Industrial Revolution-inspired works of art have landed in trendy restaurants, upscale hotels, and chic boutiques the world over. His company, Get Back Inc, is located in the old Scoville Brass Company in the Oakville section of Watertown.
When Carla Squatrito moved to Connecticut from her native Torino in the Early 70s, she quickly realized Americans had no idea what Italian food really tasted like. So she opened Pasta Italiana in a small strip mall in Manchester. Soon she started selling her stuffed ravioli, tortellini, and sacchettini to local restaurants. Carla’s Pasta – as it was now called – went big time in the 90s when national food distributor Sysco asked the company to launch its new Italian line. 37 years in business, Carla’s now pumps out nearly a million pounds of pasta a week in its South Windsor plant. Her authentic specialty pasta dishes are on the menu at Olive Garden, Ruth’s Chris, Panera Bread, and Buffalo Wild Wings. They’re also served at stadiums and amusement parks across the country.
In 1899, Joseph Janik started making kielbasa from his native Poland out of the garage of his home in Chicopee, Massachusetts. Some 120 years later, very little about that recipe has changed: It’s still made from a handful of natural ingredients and smoked over wood-fired brick ovens. But owner Jay Prokop has introduced some new products and stepped up production dramatically since the days when his Great Uncle made deliveries by horse and buggy. Janik’s is now in 100 grocery stores in Northern Connecticut and Western Massachusetts. And Jay has expanded the line to include kielbasa “dogs” and patties. Employees pump out 5000 pounds of kielbasa from their Enfield location.
At the turn of the 20th Century, Pennsylvania Globe gaslight Company introduced the concept of outdoor illumination, lighting up the streets of America after dark. More than 100 years later, the North Branford-based company now uses its fixtures as data collection centers. Campuses across the country are installing surveillance cameras to ensure student safety while cities use their fixtures to track precipitation to determine when to deploy snow plows. The company is run by sisters Marcia LaFemina and Michelle Stonier, who took over from their parents five years ago.