In Our World

Coastal Wine Trail of Southeastern New England

On our recent trip to Rhode Island, we decided to visit a winery. Surely there are wineries in the area, right? As it turns out, there are. But first, we thought it would be even more interesting to stop and get some cheese when we stumbled upon this…

On our recent trip to Rhode Island, we decided to visit a winery. Surely there are wineries in the area, right? As it turns out, there are. But first, we thought it would be even more interesting to stop and get some cheese when we stumbled upon this page, which mentions many companies offer tours of their facilities. We’ve previously been on wine trails – what could be cooler than a cheese trail?

After calling at least a dozen of these companies who we’d be somewhat near to, we found that only one of them was open to the public, and several just seemed to have no idea what you were asking when you inquired about tours of the facilities. So we went back to wineries. We didn’t find the bounty we did with cheese-makers, but still, we found one, and we filed it away for later.

So one afternoon, as we headed down Highway 138 toward Newport, we recalled that we had a winery to visit. We pulled out the map and started to figure out how to get to the winery. As it turns out, we didn’t quite end up at the one we intended. At least not initially, because if you’re coming from Providence, the first signs along the highway you see are not for Newport – they are for Greenvale.

Not knowing there were two vineyards in the area, we followed the signs, despite out confusion about heading in what seemed to be the wrong direction. In reality, this ended up being a decent decision. Had we not done this and ended up at Newport, we probably would not have taken some extra time there and may have entirely missed the Coastal Wine Trail Passport, which not only describes the five wineries in the area, but gives detailed directions from each one to the next, and if you get a stamp at each one, you can send it in and be entered into a contest.

That said, once we realized that there were five wineries in the area and not just one, we decided to pick up the pace just a bit. In the end, we’re glad we did. We didn’t get to the cheese, but we did get our passport stamped at each location, so now we can enter the contest. I’m sure we probably won’t win anything, but at least we can give it a try. In the meantime, here are our thoughts of each winery.

  • Greenvale Vineyards
    A neat place, though a bit of a challenge to find. If you follow the signs from the highway, you should not have a problem, but make sure you watch for them. Once you’re there, take the tour. It’s not a tour like those at other wineries. This one takes you through the vineyard, where you get to learn about the grapes – not just the wine-making process (they don’t actually make the wine on-site). Their wine-tasting costs $5 per person for five samples, but you get a glass to take home. They only have five wines, so for two people it may seem a bit overkill, but they don’t let you share. We really enjoyed the place and the tour, but the tasting and the wines didn’t do much for us.
  • Newport Vineyards
    Just down the road from Greenvale, nestled quaintly in a strip mall, is a shop for Newport Vineyards. You read that right. It’s in a strip mall. There appeared to be vineyards out back, but I could be mistaken. They seemed to be more of a gift shop than a winery, and no one pushed a tour of any sort, so I can’t say for certain. Also a tasting for $5 per person for five samples, but they have a bunch of wines, and you can share – so if you each get different wines, you can try ten different types. Again, you get to keep the glass. The wines were okay but the location and the lack of personal touch didn’t leave us feeling like we enjoyed it.
  • Sakonnet Vineyards
    On the other side of the bay is Sakonnet Vineyards, and they are without a doubt the nicest grounds we encountered. Probably because it’s a bit more country over there, and the roads are a bit less crowded. We didn’t have a chance to take a tour, because it was getting later in the day and we had missed it. Their tasting was again $5 with a souvenir glass, but this time you get six tastings per person, and you again get to split them. However, they did not have twelve different wines. So we tried ten different ones, then went back and had our two favorites again. This place had (by far) the friendliest staff and the best wines – especially their dessert wines, if you like that sort of thing.
  • Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery
    Through the country and into another state (Massachusetts) we made our way to the fourth stop. This place was the only one that required a reservation (of sorts) for a tasting. They only held tastings on the half-hour, and wouldn’t you know it, we had just missed it. Since we didn’t have time to wait around, we got our stamp and moved on. I can’t speak to the quality of the wine, and we had missed the last tour as well.
  • Running Brook Vineyards
    The newest winery in the bunch, this is also the least prepared winery we visited. While they don’t require a fee for the tasting, it is probably a good thing, as you may object to it during the tasting. Many of their wines are in recycled bottles, without labels, that sort of thing. The tastes aren’t bad, but they definitely aren’t up to the quality of the other places. Perhaps in a few years, but at the moment the prefab metal building off of the urban street just can’t match up.

And with that, our visit to the wineries along the Coastal Wine Trail of Southeastern New England was complete. We actually barely made it to the fifth and final winery before they closed at 5pm, so while we wished we had been able to do a few other things (like sample the wines at Wesport Rivers), if we had done so, we might not have been able to complete the trail.

If you try out the trail for yourself, grab a passport. Each winery in the passport provides directions to and from the next winery. So if you can find one, you should easily be able to find your way to the next one. Just make sure that you follow the directions precisely. There was only one instance where they were wrong, and that was on Highway 138 headed to Newport Vineyards. It said 0.7 miles, it should have been 1.7 miles. There was another where we skipped a line reading directions and went in circles for ten minutes, but once we figured it out the directions were spot-on.

We’re still a little miffed at not being able to visit any cheesemakers along the way too, but we’ll have to save that for a trip to Vermont. Rhode Island may have some cheese in it, but I guess the folks in that area just don’t want you to visit them. It all works out for the best.

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