The Left Coast Is the Best Coast: Tour a local vineyard this summer and taste what all the hype is about
If you live in RI, chances are a winery is not too far away, and the summer is the perfect time to explore them. Consider splitting your exploration into two day trips. Spend one day along the eastern part of the state, following the Coastal Trail route, then check out the Inland Trail in the western part.
The Inland Trail (48 miles long)
With the exception of Diamond Hill, the inland wineries are recently founded. These are smaller and more intimate operations than the more established Coastal Wine Trail wineries. Often, the owner/winemaker will be pouring the wines at these family enterprises.
Diamond Hill is situated in the Northeast corner of RI. The second generation now runs this winery with vines planted in 1976. They make pinot noir from these vines and also produce fruit wines. Tastings are free at this charming location.
Diamond Hill Vineyards, 3145 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland. diamondhillvineyards.com; Hours: Tastings available Thu – Sat, noon – 5pm and Sun, noon – 3pm; call ahead for parties larger than 8 people
Verde Vineyards is owned by Giacomo Verde (better know to his friends as “Jimmy the grape”), who loves to inform visitors about oenology and how an obsession turned into a business. Jimmy offers free tours and tasting of his wines and grows seven grape varieties on his property, focusing on American hybrids. Verde Vineyards specializes red St. Croix and Cayuga white because after much trial and error, Jimmy finds these grapes grow the best in this area. With Lake Moswansicut the only nearby neighbor, this idyllic setting makes it difficult to imagine you are only 10 miles west of Providence.
Verde Vineyards, 50 Hopkins Rd, Johnston; 401-934-2317; verdevineyardsri.com; Hours: 11am – 5pm Fri – Sun
Mulberry Vineyards is a winery to watch! While attending URI, David R. Wright studied entomology, chemistry and microbiology and took food science classes to identify levels of alcohol in local wines. He then consulted local vineyards on insect management. David got the bug and in 1991, began planting grapevines everywhere. Over the next 14 years he learned that RI has a perfect terrior for growing certain types of grapes. In 2011 David and his wife, Melissa, purchased the historical Andrew Brown homestead and turned it into Mulberry Vineyards. He now produces American riesling, a crisp white wine that is very drinkable, a cabernet sauvignon and a gamay noir.
Mulberry Vineyards, 95 Pound Road, Chepachet; mulberryvineyards.com; Hours: Saturday and Sunday 11am – 4pm
Nickel Creek vineyard is a family-run vineyard started in 2008; they produce 2,000 cases of wine including estate wine, fruit wine and wine from purchased fruit each year. From pinot grigio — dry, light and best served chilled — to Decadence, a traditional port that is elegant and gently tart, they produce both fruit wines and grape wines.
Nickel Creek, 12 King Rd, Foster; nicklecreekvineyard.com; Hours: Open noon – 5pm Friday, 11am – 5pm Sat and Sun
Leyden Farms is another family affair, run by the third generation: Jack and Maureen Leyden and their daughters, Caitlin and Lauren. In 2010, they decided to diversify their Christmas Tree farm and make fruit and grape wines. They blend some of their red and white grape wines with their fruit wines.
Leyden Farms, 60 Plain Meeting House Rd, West Greenwich; 401-392-1133; leydenfarm.com; Hours: Sat and Sun, noon – 4pm
Coastal Trail (21 Miles, with Langworthy farms 30 more miles to the south)
The Coastal Wine Trail runs through Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. It contains the most established wineries of RI, and their location along the coast also brings some amazing scenic opportunities.
The oldest winery in Rhode Island is Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard. There are more than 30 acres of grapes planted on a 150-acre estate, and this is a full-on winery experience like you would expect from more famous West Coast areas. The vineyard is on the same parallel as the great wine regions of France, California and Oregon. Wine tastings, weddings, jazz, Carolyn’s Café, award winning wines, corporate field days, iconic stone walls and beautifully manicured rows of grape vines define this quintessential vineyard.
Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard, 162 West Main Rd, Little Compton; sakonnetwine.com; Hours: 11am – 5pm daily
Greenvale Vineyards is located on what used to be an award-winning dairy farm in Portsmouth. Located on the banks of the Sakonnet River, the land is the perfect terrior for grapes. Greenvale Vineyards is operated by the Parker/Wilson family on land that the Parker family has owned for generations. Greenvale’s wines are all estate-grown on their 27 acres, but the wine is made at Newport Vineyards. This 3,500-case winery produces some of the very best values in the state, especially the whites. They have been growing grapes since the 1960s.
Greenvale Vineyards, 582 Wapping Rd, Portsmouth; greenvale.com; Hours: Mon – Sat, 10am – 5pm, Sun, noon – 5pm
Newport Vineyards is anchored at one end by Fatulli’s bakery and deli for day, and a first class restaurant — Brix — at the other end for evening. Owned and operated by the Nunes family, they produce red, white, blush, sparkling dessert wines and hard cider. The vineyards were planted in 1977 and produced their first commercial vintage in 1988. They have 60 acres under vine.
Newport Vineyards, 909 East Main Rd (RTE 138), Middletown; 401-848-5161; newportvineyards.com; Hours: Tue, 10 am – 4pm, Wed and Thu, 10am – 8pm, Fri and Sat, 10am – 5pm, Sun, 11am – 6pm
Langworthy Farms is minutes from the beaches. It’s on an historical home site in the shade of the largest Norway Maple tree in the state, which is also one of the largest Norway Maples in the US. Adjoining the winery is a 1875 bed and breakfast. The tasting room is usually full of people trying their blended wines or their red and white wines.
Langworthy Farms, 308 Shore Rd (Route 1A) Westerly; langworthyfarm.com; Summer hours: Daily, noon – 5pm