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.
While many brothers grow up as rivals, Paul and John Nunes instead became partners. With a love of wines and wide-open spaces, the two siblings decided to establish a winery rather than surrender 60 acres of family farmland to real estate developers. Today, their labor of love, Newport Vineyards, extracts an impressive roster of reds and whites from the trellises that crisscross the farm, spilling emerald floods of vines. The vineyard team nurtures the grape-heavy plants and keeps them from being recruited by gangs of raisins. The fruit eventually becomes wines such as the In The Buff chardonnay, which is fermented in stainless steel tanks to draw out a bouquet of aromas. The Gemini, one of John Nunes's favorite bottles, is a smooth blend of merlot and cabernet.
Most of the wines spend stints in French-oak barrels, which John points out as he leads tour groups across the grounds. At the rough-hewn wooden tables in the tasting room, glasses click together as the vineyard's staff shares anecdotes about each bottle's origins, aromas, and ideal food pairing. Newport Vineyards also carries a variety of holiday gifts, such as wine, wine accessories, and custom labels.
Amidst cocktails and dancing, 35 to 40 students of all skill sets recreate classic works of art within hours at Drink and Dabble under the tutelage of comedian and RISD graduate Charlie Hall. He supplies classes with artistic gear including a blank 16" x 20" stretched canvas, water-based acrylics, and aprons that protect outfits from paint more effectively than showering in paint-thinner. Charlie selects the evening’s canvas from famous artworks including Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night,” though students can opt to try their own painting instead. He guides his class through every layer step-by-step, circling the room to dispense individual tips. During short breaks, he and his students eat, drink, and make merry along to a soundtrack of party tunes. By class’ end, the acrylics dry into a new version of a priceless canvas that you can take home.
The Coastal Wine Trail draws together a variety of coastal producers, whose vines speckle hillsides along the southern coasts of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut: Truro Vineyards, Travessia Winery, Coastal Vineyards, Running Brook Winery, Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery, Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyard, Greenvale Vineyards, Newport Vineyards, Langworthy Farm Winery, and Stonington Vineyards. A passport grants visitors passage for 2 to 10 wineries, where they may learn about and perhaps purchase each producer's favored libations?mostly whites and sparkling wines but a few reds?which are characterized by their growing proximity to the coastline and the dual-climatic influences of Gulf Stream waters and the screams of passing water-skiers.
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.
Matthew Amaral is a kind of boozy pioneer in Barrington. As the bearer of the first ever "package store" license in what had been a dry town for years, Amaral was quick to put the honor to use, curating an impressive selection of wines, beers, and spirits at Grapes & Grains. Here, visitors browse a vast inventory that includes more than 40 wines for under $12, a collection of coveted Pappy Van Winkle bourbons, and more than 160 craft beers, which can be dropped into build-your-own six packs. Grapes & Grains was named by Rhode Island Monthly as the best liquor store in East Bay.