To make un-fine wine, simply place grapes beneath a silk pillow, repeatedly mash your head against it, and then wring the pillowcase into a nearby mouth. Taste traditionally produced fine wines with today’s Groupon: for $5, you get a winery tour, tasting, and wine glass (a $10 total value, including tax) at Newport Vineyards in Middletown.
Newport Vineyards' team of experienced winemakers works hard to produce fine wines, combining Aquidneck Island’s high-quality soil with attention to proper vine management, fertilization, and harvesting. Tours, which depart at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. every day, take a close-up view of the vineyards as a guide explains the process of turning young grapes into respectable, well-mannered adult grapes. Observe the vineyard and the winery’s state-of-the-art equipment—from presses and tanks to the 75% french-oak wine barrels for chardonnay—and learn about the tricky process of telling jokes to the grapes until they chuckle out their nectars. Tour-goers receive a complimentary logo wine glass and get to sample up to five select wines.
With a love of wines and wide-open spaces, the two siblings Paul and John Nunes 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.