A family’s dream is realized with the opening of Aquila’s Nest Vineyards in Newtown – CTPost

Neviana Zhgaba and her husband, Ardian Llomi, have opened Aquila’s Nest Vineyards at 56 Pole Bridge Road in Newtown. The wine bar and tasting room are seen here. There’s outdoor seating, too, and the fall foliage views are gorgeous.
Neviana Zhgaba and her husband, Ardian Llomi, seen here, have opened Aquila’s Nest Vineyards at 56 Pole Bridge Road in Newtown. The eclectic decor reflects Zhgaba’s passion for art, globalization, sustainability, empowerment of women, diverse thinking, and the encouragement of inclusive communities. There’s outdoor seating, too, with beautiful views of the countryside.
Neviana Zhgaba and her husband, Ardian Llomi, have opened Aquila’s Nest Vineyards in Newtown. The wine bar and tasting room are seen here. The eclectic decor reflects Zhgaba’s passion for art, globalization, sustainability, empowerment of women, diverse thinking, and the encouragement of inclusive communities. There’s outdoor seating, too, with beautiful views of the countryside
Neviana Zhgaba and her husband, Ardian Llomi, have opened Aquila’s Nest Vineyards in Newtown. There’s a wine bar and tasting room, plus outdoor seating. “Aquila” is Latin for “eagle” and the winery is perched on a hilltop at 56 Pole Bridge Road. Zhgaba and Llomi say Aquila’s Nest Vineyards was inspired by mythological tales and their love of astronomy. Aquila is the name of an eagle-shaped constellation and the owners are natives of Albania, also known as “Land of the Eagles.” From the wine to the wine bottles and eclectic decor, everything has a story behind it.
Neviana Zhgaba and her husband, Ardian Llomi, seen here with their sons, have opened Aquila’s Nest Vineyards at 56 Pole Bridge Road in Newtown. There’s a wine bar and tasting room plus outdoor seating with sweeping views of the countryside. They say the winery was inspired by mythological tales and their love of astronomy. From the wine to the wine bottles and eclectic decor inside, everything has a story behind it.
Neviana Zhgaba and her husband, Ardian Llomi, seen with their sons, have opened Aquila’s Nest Vineyards at 56 Pole Bridge Road in Newtown. There’s a wine bar and tasting room plus outdoor seating with sweeping views of the countryside. The winery was inspired by mythological tales and the owners’ love of astronomy. From the wine to the wine bottles, everything has a story to it. The decor on the walls celebrates Zhgaba’s passion for such pursuits as art, globalization, sustainability and diverse thinking.
The culmination of a family dream, Aquila’s Nest Vineyards has opened at 56 Pole Bridge Road in Newtown. Owners Neviana Zhgaba and her husband, Ardian Llomi, envision it as a gathering place for engagement and community. There’s a wine bar and tasting room plus outdoor seating with beautiful views of the countryside.
Wine is poured at Aquila’s Nest Vineyards in Newtown. Five wines are currently offered and each bottle is an artwork, adorned with the image of a constellation, the name of a woman drawn from an ancient Mediterranean myth or historical figure, and a Latin phrase translated into English, along with the story that brings these elements together.
Flames glow from a firepit on the grassy terrace near the bar and tasting room at Aquila’s Nest Vineyards in Newtown, on Halloween.
Neviana Zhgaba and her husband, Ardian Llomi, have opened Aquila’s Nest Vineyards at 56 Pole Bridge Road in Newtown. Wine paired with treats from BD Provisions in Newtown are seen here in a section of the 75-seat tasting room. There’s also outdoor seating with sweeping views of the countryside.
Neviana Zhgaba and her husband, Ardian Llomi, seen here with their sons, have opened Aquila’s Nest Vineyards in Newtown. There’s a wine bar and tasting room, plus outdoor seating. “Aquila” is Latin for “eagle” and the winery is perched on a hilltop at 56 Pole Bridge Road. Zhgaba and Llomi say Aquila’s Nest Vineyards was inspired by mythological tales and their love of astronomy. Aquila is the name of an eagle-shaped constellation and the owners are natives of Albania, also known as “Land of the Eagles.” From the wine to the wine bottles and eclectic decor, everything has a story behind it.
An unassuming gravel road winds its way up to Aquila’s Nest Vineyards in Newtown. Nothing seems out of the ordinary at first, but round the last curve and you’re in for a surprise.
This new family-owned winery and tasting room is inside a striking structure — a brushed-steel, barn-like building. And it’s perched on a hilltop with breathtaking views of the countryside.
Even before Aquila’s Nest recently opened its doors, people were already enjoying the bucolic landscape, thanks to the owners’ open invitation to photographers seeking fall foliage backdrops for family photo shoots.
That welcoming invite, plus the well-loved baby grand piano in the center of the tasting room, speak to what Aquila’s Vineyard is all about — inspiration and community gathering.
Neviana Zhgaba, a lover of photography and philosophy, says she and her husband, Ardian Llomi, envision their winery as “a place for people to have more engagement.”
That’s why there’s a piano, and why the diverse decor features everything from artwork and her photographs to colorful squares noting global goals of the United Nations — things about which she is passionate.
Since she and her husband grew up in Albania, where Llomi was exposed to fruticulture and farming, there are also nods to that Mediterranean country and its culture, including a photo of Mother Teresa, who — although a citizen of the world — was born to an Albanian grocer.
Aquila’s Nest was inspired by mythological tales and the couple’s love of astronomy. Zhgaba, who has a degree in software engineering and speaks six languages, is also a music lover. “Embrace your music!” she says. “Amplify your power!” Her quotes grace the walls. A proponent of diversity, sustainability and the environment, she’s also one of those people who smiles easily and is just instantly likable.
“The short story is when we saw the land we knew it couldn’t be just for us, because I don’t do things just for myself,” Zhgaba says. “I want to share them with other people and I want to see people happy. That’s the beauty in life.”
The winery’s 4,000-square-foot silvery structure is beside a grassy terrace overlooking the hills and vineyard. An eclectic mix of outdoor chairs and tables, all handpicked by Zhgaba (many from Facebook Marketplace) await those who prefer the open air.
More than seven acres of vines include varieties such as Cabernet Franc, Chambourcin, Marquette, Baco Noir, Riesling, Cayuga White, Valvin Muscat and Traminette. They completed their first fall harvest last year. Production space is shared with the 75-seat wine bar and tasting room, where wines may be paired with sustainably sourced cheese crackers, nuts, dried fruits and chocolate. BD Provisions and Castle Hill Chocolate are just two of the many local businesses with whom they’ve partnered.
A quote over the bar says, “Create a vision so clear that all your fears become irrelevant.” Zhgaba says she finds this meaningful because Aquila’s Nest is a dream come true. “When I came here 12 years ago (from Albania ), I loved exploring,” she says, telling the story of how it came to be. “I’m always fascinated with new things, and I want to engage everyone else in experiencing them as well.”
Aquila’s Nest Vineyards, 56 Pole Bridge Road, Newtown. Thursday-Friday 5-8 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday evenings for private events. Reservations required for all indoor wine-paired experiences (to assure social distancing). A series of events/programming is planned. 203-518-4352, [email protected], aquilasnestvineyards.com
When she had her second son, she and her husband were looking for a farm to build a house on because they wanted their sons to grow up where they could roam freely and connect with nature. “My husband found this property; I remember it was exactly five years ago in October. My father was still here. My father passed away from pancreatic cancer… and this relates to him.”
After stopping to gather her emotions, she continued, saying she hadn’t seen her father in eight years (he was in Albania ) when “he came here and he loved the idea of us starting on our new house… He came to see the land for the first time with us and when we entered the other entrance there was a small field and we all looked at each other and said, ‘Well, is this it? Is this 40 acres?’ We kept going and going, and it was like unraveling the land.”
Finally they saw a huge field with an amazing view. “We were like, ‘Oh my god, it’s incredible.’ Then we discussed, ‘Do we build a house first here, or build something else to engage the community?’ We knew we were going to live here a long time, so, because we liked vineyards everywhere else and knew we could bring experiences and events to people in different ways here, we moved forward.”
Zhgaba’s father was a big proponent of their plan. “He lived for one year, which is pretty good for pancreatic cancer,” she says. “He passed away within the year. During that year I had my son… He was really young when we bought this. I had a new job and then my father to take care of, and cleaning up the property.
“The town didn’t really believe us when we said we wanted to use it as a farm and build something. By the time they came back and saw how much we had cleaned it up and how much work we’d done, everyone was amazed.”
“The day my dad passed away I promised him it would be something completed, even though it was hard. It’s not easy to juggle the demanding jobs we both have (in corporate technology and manufacturing) and the kids and this (winery).
“It’s new, we’ve never done a vineyard before,” she said, laughing. “That is why the quote, ‘Create a vision so clear that all your fears become irrelevant’ is true. That’s exactly what this was. So yeah, now it’s four years since his passing and we will do a family gathering. Yeah — we made it.”
[email protected]; Twitter: @LindaTKoonz
Linda Tuccio-Koonz followed her father into journalism and writes entertainment features for the Hearst Connecticut Media Group. Working as an editor, columnist and a reporter, she has written a variety of news and feature stories over the past three decades. In 1984, while reporting in Maine, she helped the FBI solve a coed’s murder. In 2013, she was part of the writing team that earned a national award for a narrative on the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

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