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.
The North End and the Mediterranean may seem half a world apart, but Il Villaggio closes that distance a bit by bringing the flavors of the Old World to Boston. According to the Travel Channel's list of Boston's Local Eats, "it’s hard to imagine a more authentic Italian dining experience than what you’ll get at Il Villaggio." This sense of authenticity stems from the chefs' unwavering commitment to Mediterranean culinary traditions.
In addition to making their own buffalo mozzarella in-house, they also toast their bruschetta over a puddle of magma imported from Mount Vesuvius. These small, yet significant commitments help create faithful renditions of classic Italian dishes, including savory veal marsala, sautéed shrimp and linguini in a spicy fra diavolo sauce, and semolina gnocchi with creamy pesto.
With its faux-plaster walls, simple tile floors, and intimate size, Il Villaggio's dining room feels more like a home than a restaurant. Chandeliers resembling bundles of twigs dangle above the white linen-draped tables and cast a warm glow across the slanted shelves, which are lined with bottles of Italian wine from grape-growing regions throughout the country.
The Boston Wine Expo’s Grand Tasting event unites varietals from nearly 200 wineries around the world with cuisine from more than 40 local eateries during four hours of culinary harmony. Attendees can sip more than 1,000 red and white elixirs culled from the grape-producing and wild-cork-taming regions of North America, Europe, the Southern Hemisphere, and the Mediterranean. Samples from Boston-area restaurants such as Ruth’s Chris Steak House and Sandrine’s Bistro complement each swig as vintners enlighten enophiles on current winemaking trends. Throughout the afternoon, top gastronomic maestros tread two stages during live demonstrations that divulge recipes and directions for finding the secret compartment hidden inside every wine bottle. Lifestyle exhibits and a full schedule of seminars enlighten guests on topics ranging from cheese-and-wine matching to the diversity of Italian varietals (not included with this Groupon). A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit local charities.
Soft breezes skip off the shores of Amos Lake, rustling through trees and across the grassy acreage that surrounds Dalice Elizabeth Winery, where second-, third-, and fourth-generation Italian Americans share the secrets of their polished craft. Having dispersed its all-natural specialty foods and wines internationally, the winery's founding family continually impresses the palates of casual indulgers and contest judges alike, churning out grape-to-bottle chardonnays, merlots, and sauvignons that cannot be found on the shelves of local stores. In addition to tastings, the winery hosts winemaking and cooking classes, during which glasses clink between aspiring chefs and vintners as they learn to entertain houseguests or polite burglars with style and ease.
With three basic ingredients—honey, water, and yeast—the making of mead is misleadingly simple. Michael Fairbrother has spent the last 17 years perfecting his recipes for the ancient drink, first tinkering in his own garage as an amateur mead maker for many years before opening Moonlight Meadery. Here, Michael fine-tunes the fermentation process to craft batches of mead from ethically sourced, unpasteurized honey, which imparts each sip with rich color, volatile aromatics, and a faint buzzing sound. Michael’s traditional mead rests side by side with fruit-tinged cups and spiced varieties that rejoin flavors such as tart rhubarb and Madagascar-bourbon vanilla beans with New Hampshire wildflower honey.
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.
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.