A Tasteful Experience
This is a well-kept secret. Rhode Island has two of the finest vineyards and wineries in the Northeastern United States. Two more vineyards are just over the border in Southeastern Massachusetts with one more in Truro on Cape Cod. Two smaller operations are near the south and southwestern edges of this tiny state.
Taken as a whole, the route connecting the vineyards and wineries is known as The Coastal Wine Trail. These fine wineries each have a history and something unique, yet they have banded together with the commitment of producing fine wines as well as preserving the lush richness of this area of New England.
An important point to note would be the close proximity of each Rhode Island vineyard and winery to cozy New England bed and breakfast or inn accommodations. This helps visitors to relax and enjoy the experiences along the Coastal Wine Trail without fear of endangering themselves or others: Don’t Drink and Drive!
Langworthy Farm Winery
Westerly, Rhode Island
The Langworthy Farm Winery is certainly off the beaten path. It is just a half mile from the ocean in Westerly, RI. Open all year long, visitors can drop in for a relaxing wine-tasting and then take some home for family and friends.
The Newport Vineyards
Middletown, Rhode Island
Aquidneck Island is decidedly blessed with the finest, fertile farm areas in the entire country. The vineyards were planted on the hillside facing Rhode Island Sound. This farm dates back to 1701 when Francisco Nunes purchased approximately 50 acres of land. It is still owned by the Nunes family. Their goals were to produce fine wines whilst preserving the beautiful agricultural land from the intrusion of rapid development.
The climate in this particular area is fed by the warming waters of the Gulf Stream as they travel north as well as the protective, moderating effects of the Narragansett Bay. When these conditions are combined, the resulting climate provides a long and cool growing season. This is a fantastic situation which produces grapes that develop some of the more complex flavors which contribute to the uniqueness of the wines from these vineyards.
The first grapes were planted by Captain Alexander in 1977 on the original vineyard called Hopelands Estate. He used 10 acres and chose a combination of French and American wine grapes. The vineyards have grown from those first few plantings into today’s 60 acres, although about 30 acres are actually planted at any one time.
The Newport Winery was built in 1988 as a joint venture with Hopelands Vineyard. In 1995, the Nunes family acquired the winery from retiring partner, Captain Alexander, and established the Newport Vineyards brand label for their wines.
Next to the winery on Route 138 was the Perry Farm. Eighty homes were to be constructed on this property. The Rhode Island Division of Agriculture and the Aquidneck Land Trust saved this land by partnering with the Nunes family’s Newport Vineyards to acquire it. It is perpetually preserved from future development because of the environmentally responsible actions taken by the partners as a group. Today, the farm yields nine varieties of vinifera wine grapes.
The 1998 gold medal, award-winning “Great White” is Newport Vineyards’ best-selling wine. However, their 1999 wine, the Vidal Ice Wine, was voted into the top 50 wines in the United States. Presently, the vineyard is recognized as a landmark attraction in Newport County. The traditional quality wine grapes are still grown on this preserved farmland and you can find the Newport Vineyards listed on the National Historic Register.
Portsmouth, Rhode Island
The Greenvale Vineyards are located just five miles north of downtown Newport in the town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The farm spreads out along the beautiful Sakonnet River and has been in the Parker family since 1863.
This business started as a hobby back in the 1960s and grew into its own brand label by the mid 1990s. As the transformation from hobby into enterprise evolved, the farm’s fourth generation owners (Cortlandt Parker and wife Nancy) noted that The Greenvale Vineyard mission has become an effort to conserve open space, preserve beautiful buildings and provide recreation and wine education to the vineyard visitors. This focus appears to be highly successful.
The Stable at Greenvale was transformed into a tourist center with a tasting area and space for the presentation of musical events – all arranged to satisfy your five senses. There is Jazz on Summer Saturdays and Concerts on Friday evenings with other events scheduled as each season unfolds. The acoustics in the Tasting Room are fabulous and the room itself is a wonderful environment for special events: weddings, meetings, speakers, conferences etc.
The Greenvale Vineyard is listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Greenvale Vineyard’s 24 acres of grapes produce approximately 3500 cases of wine each year.
Little Compton, RI
Just across the water from The Greenvale Vineyard, in the beautiful town of Little Compton, can be found the Sakonnet Vineyards. The “estate grown” grapes produce several vinifera varieties. Especially notable are the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc. As choice as that selection is, visitors should see, smell and taste their unique hybrid called Vidal Blanc. Sakonnet has an award-winning Sparkling wine, also.
There is another vineyard, not a part of the Coastal Wine Trail, located in the northern region of Rhode Island very close to the Massachusetts state line.
Diamond Hill Vineyards
1 800 752 2505
These vineyards are owned by the Berntsons who planted their first grapes in 1976. This is a sizable 34-acre farm with 4 acres given completely and exclusively to the Pinot Noir grapes. Although this is the finest of the fine wine grapes, it requires a very lengthy aging time.
The Berntsons decided to return to the quaint New England tradition of making wines from native grown fruits: peaches, apples, blueberries and cranberries. Modern equipment and techniques are the only updates to this tradition. The resulting wines are fast becoming New England classics.
The old vineyard house and gift shop date back 220+ years. The front lawn has accommodated such events as weddings, photo opportunities, baby and bridal showers and anniversary parties having a capacity of up to 60 people between the tent and the gazebo.
The tasting room is open Thursday through Saturday from NOON until 5 pm. The office staff is available Tuesday through Saturday from 9 am until 5 pm.
The Coastal Wine Trail is unarguably the most interesting tour in tiny Rhode Island. It is recommended that reservations should be made in advance to ensure that the tasting room and winery tour will be available when you intend to visit. Phone numbers are provided above. Go to accommodations to make reservations for the evening of your visit.
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