Carol Russell comes from a long line of winemakers—her father, Herbert, and grandfather, Max, crafted sparkling wine at their vineyard in New York. After dreaming of rebooting the family tradition for quite some time, she moved to farmland in Westport, Massachusetts, in 1982 and her family planted their first vines four years later. Today, the winery family cultivates 80 acres of grapes including chardonnay, pinot gris, pinot noir, and riesling.
Made through a combination of old-timey and contemporary techniques, the sparkling wines, table wines, and aperitifs have earned more than 20 gold medals and twice-filled glasses at the White House. Wine flows year-round at the Westport Rivers’ store, which hosts tastings, an art gallery, and autumnal hayride vineyard tours where guests meet the giants who squash the grapes with a single stomp once a year.
A lifelong entrepreneur with a green thumb, Dave Neilson transformed Coastal Vineyards from an idea to a reality in 2004. Joined by his wife Linda, family, and friends, Dave continues to tend to his small but continually expanding winery, situated along southeastern New England's lengthy coastal wine trail. Like a shadow cast by Godzilla, the property's thriving vineyards cover eight acres, producing 12 varietals including chardonnay, pinot gris, riesling, and merlot.
No matter the bottle, Dave's goal remains consistent: to lure every ounce of fruity zest from each varietal, specifically by blending flavors to create unique bouquets. To accomplish this, Coastal Vineyards utilizes a combination of stainless steel and oak barrels to ensure it consistently serves up a diverse repertoire of complex flavors, which can be bought or tested in the facility's tasting room when it swings open its doors on the weekends.
Thanks to a $50 loan from his grandfather, Chef James Messinger was able to promote his small catering business in the local classifieds, kicking off the career he dreamt about as a student at the Culinary Institute of America. The unlikely success from this small ad helped The Crazy Chefs Caterers to flourish and allowed Messinger to finance a long-desired wine-tasting odyssey through Spain, where the local cuisine quickly captivated both his tongue and imagination. Upon arrival back home, he established Loco Tapas & Wine Bar with his wife, brandishing fresh, quality ingredients from local farms to construct traditional tapas influenced by Spain's Catalonia, Basque, and La Rioja regions. The highly praised seasonal menus flaunt a rotating arsenal of small plates and elegant entrees, including a saffron-rice paella with chicken, chorizo, and mussels that the Boston Globe declared as one of "40 fantastic dishes" in the Boston area.
Hovering above Loco Tapas & Wine Bar's fully stocked bar, a chalkboard announces a handwritten roster of Spanish wines by the glass. Elsewhere in the dining area, dangling chandeliers and flickering candles set the stage for shadow-puppet tours de force upon rich crimson walls. Striking black accents, tablecloths, and furniture punctuate the sleek color scheme.
Nature is responsible for stimulating all the senses at Cresta Bar & Ristorante, where diners savor fresh ingredients as they bask in the shade on an outdoor patio. Fresh flourishes such as foraged mushrooms and homemade pasta embellish the entrees, which include panko-encrusted cuts of veal and chicken. More than 60 wines pair with the meals so that guests don’t have to determine complementary flavors by licking a color wheel. Diners can eat either inside or on the terrace, where marble-topped tables reflect the leafy branches that criss-cross overhead, leaving matte wrought-iron bistro chairs to lounge on the flagstone patio.
Under the ownership of Federal Hill native Christopher Conti, Blush Winebar pours half and full glasses from hundreds of red, white, and sparkling libations. The upscale watering hole offers more than 100 wines by the glass, each with its own distinct flavor notes and secret cheese crush. A champagne bar highlights the bubbly beverage with glasses, full bottles, and three-flute samplers as well as a selection of champagne-based cocktails, such as the Blush Boom Boom, a mixture of Moët champagne, pomegranate liqueur, Grand Marnier, and orange juice. Executive chef Jacen Scungio blends fresh, local ingredients to create the flatbread pizzas, sliders, and handmade pastas that populate the wine bar’s tapas menu and keep hungry imbibers from trying to stomp their wines back into grapes.
Outside, gaslight-style lamps and the gilded lettering spelling out Mile & a Quarter Restaurant recall an old English pub; inside, the eatery has a 1940s vibe. Tiffany-style pendant lighting hovers over tables surrounded by deep leather seating. Dark-wood wainscoting beneath exposed-brick walls give the space a warm feel as diners gather to break bread over classic American food. Marinara sauce is crafted in-house and ladled over veal and chicken parmigiano, while roasted chicken rests in natural au jus. The paella dish draws together a sea-faring party including clams, mussels, and shrimp tossed in rice simmered in a seafood broth.