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.
At ShelaLara Vineyards & Winery, vintners work with modern equipment to produce more than 20 different wines. Using grapes and fruit imported from California and other sun-soaked regions, the enophiles fill tanks with sweet elixirs including their in-house specialty wine slush. The glacier wines, fruit essences, and vintage wines run a colorful gamut from the off purple of the sky just after sunset to the hue of warm honey. ShelaLara’s winemaking process, including fermentation, bottling, and 21-gun salutes following spills, all takes place in Rhode Island.
Newport Majestic Cruises provides finless mammals with opportunities to take in the seaside sights of Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay. Embark on a two-hour, coast-hugging harbor tour aboard the Majestic, Newport’s beautifully buoyant luxury yacht. Passengers pause inside the climate-controlled cabin before emerging as boat-born butterflies on one of three exterior decks while voice-over veterans nourish brains with sightseeing scoops, maritime mythology, and fresh air. The boat’s refreshments feature a buffet luncheon prepared on board by the cruises' Executive Chef, Percy Cook, providing mariners with enough beverage and snack options to satiate out-to-sea appetites and includes also includes. Guests can also revel in features that include two full service bars and climate controlled interior decks.
In 1999, four college friends founded Newport Storm Brewery with some used equipment and two Middletown garage bays. In the 15 years since then, the enterprise has been on an upward trajectory. First off, it moved into a new, 8,000-square-foot facility. Secondly, they expanded into the liquor business and starting distilling Thomas Tew Rum, a dark amber rum with hints of molasses. However, the founders never abandoned beer, their original passion. Their current craft beers range from Rhode Island Blueberry Beer, infused with juice from local berries five days into the brewing process, to Hurricane Amber Ale with Tettenang hops.
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.
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.