Greenvale Vineyards

 

Owner(s): Nancy Parker Wilson

Winemaker: 

Open to Public 

Mon-Sat 10 to 5; Sun 12 to 5

582 WappingRd., Portsmouth, RI 02871

phone: 401-847-3777

email: information@greenvale.com

website


Greenvale Vineyards Profile

    Written by Brian—May 30, 2015

Just five miles from Newport, in the town of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, you will find one of the state’s ten commercial wineries and a part of the Coastal Wine Trail. Greenvale Vineyards is located on a charming old farm property within sight of the bay. The old farmhouse has been repurposed as a tasting room and from the covered porch and large lawn, visitors have an unobstructed view of the vineyards. 

Nancy Parker Wilson opened the winery with her parents in 1982 on the property that had been in the family since 1863. The winery now boasts twenty-four acres under vine and the oldest of those plantings is the Chardonnay, which is now approaching old-growth status. The 3500 cases produced each year give Greenvale a mid-sized boutique status and every drop of that wine is produced from estate fruit.

So they were pouring seven wines on the day of my visit. I thought they were all well crafted and there were a few of real note. I was particularly impressed with the Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc (I just love a good Cab Franc), but the Meritage was the real standout in my view. It is a dry, medium bodied blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. The big berry notes gave way to a nice long finish. It really is an excellent wine.

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I found the experience to be well constructed. There is ample space for visitors inside or out. All of the tasting was being done on the porch, but there is a lot of room inside to accommodate tasters in inclement weather. The tasting staff was extremely friendly and customer oriented. I observed that the size of the pour was larger than I am used to in Virginia. That is not necessarily a bad thing, just be certain to have a designated driver.

I happened to pick a perfect day to stop by. The was a late spring day, sunny and cool, and a sizable crowd was gathered on the lawn. There is live jazz on Saturdays starting in May, but you don’t need music to motivate a visit. Whether you live in the area or happen to be passing through, this is winery should be on your radar. When you stop in, please let me know what you think.


Newport Vineyards

 

Owner(s): John and Paul Nunes

Winemaker: George Chelf

Open to Public 

Sun-Friday Tours 1 & 3; Sat 11 to 4

909 East Main Rd., Middletown, RI 02842

phone: (401) 848-5161

email: See website

website


Newport Vineyards Profile

     Written by Brian—May 30, 2015

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I doubt that most oenophiles consider wine production and Rhode Island in the same contiguous thought. I certainly did not, but a recent trip to Newport has forced me to rethink that notion. I am really incapable of taking a trip that does not include a winery visit or two. So it should come as no surprise that I factored some wine tasting into my vacation and drove up to Newport Vineyard, which is located in Newport County and just a couple miles northeast of the city.

I had done a little research, but didn’t really know what to expect. After all, there are only ten wineries in the entire state. Having said that, it is not that far north of the Long Island wine region and it is part of the Coastal Wine Trail that includes fourteen wineries stretching from Cape Cod back into Connecticut. Furthermore, the sea air moderates the local temperatures and the ocean breeze protects the fruit from the ravages of frost. So there are a few very good reasons to expect quality wine.

John and Paul Nunes opened Newport Vineyards back in 1995. So much of their sixty two acres of vines have had twenty years to establish roots. They are not quite old growth, but they are approaching that milestone and are producing about 20,000 cases of quality estate wine annually. The Nunes brothers not only have the largest vineyard in New England, they may also be the largest wine producer. 

I counted thirty one wines on the tasting menu and, while I only tasted six, there is definitely something for nearly every palate. The offerings range from dry style to dessert wine and real ice wines are produced as part of that dessert line. I noted, as one might expect, that there were many German and Austrian varietals on the list, but a number of more recognizable international grapes were represented as well. 

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I selected six wines from the menu, which I found to be extremely difficult. In the end, the ones I settled for, turned out to be uniformly excellent. It is tough for me to point to a real top pick. I really enjoyed the Vidal Blanc, but I thought the Gewürztraminer was among the best American examples I have tasted. It was showing lychee on the nose and a palate that was full of stone fruit. The finish contained the typical spice, but there was a distinct ginger component, that I found particularly compelling. Among the reds, I tried the Rochambeau, which is a Bordeaux blend (plus a bit of the French hybrid Landot Noir). I also sampled the Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, which were both well crafted, but the Blaufrankish was simply over the top. It was a big wine filled with berry notes and hint of pepper in the finish. It was easily one of the best non-Austrian examples I have encountered. 

The New England Wine Gazette described Newport Vineyards as a “Napa experience.” I’m not sure I like that comparison, because it invokes images of Disneyland. I will say that the tasting experience is well thought out and they are designed to handle a crowd. Tours are offered, but a much less structured visit can include a bottle of wine and a stroll through the vineyards. The attached Brix Restaurant and Fatulli’s Bakery also offer a pair of onsite dining options. So Newport Vineyards is a serious local attraction, but I will stay away from references to Napa.

So you may still struggle with the idea of Rhode Island as a wine producing state, but you should not be put off by size and numbers. I am unable to speak for the rest of the region, but Newport Vineyards is a serious producer of potentially world-class wines. Do not take my word for it. Whether you live in the area or are just passing through, this a winery worthy of your attention. Check them out and when you do, please let me know what you think.