There are only a handful of Rhode Island wineries as you might expect of this
tiny state. However, among them is the largest winery in New England. Most of
them are beautiful properties full of history,
and Rhode Island vineyards provide lovely landscapes. You'll be pleased to learn
the Rhode Island wine is of quite good quality, and all the wineries in Rhode
Island are open for tours and tastings. Most of the wineries and vineyards also
have facilities for weddings
and other special events. And you'll find that Rhode Island wine will be available
on the dining tables of many restaurants.
The history of wineries in Rhode Island began in 1663 when England's King Charles
II inserted wording in the Rhode Island Royal Charter to encourage wine production
in the new colony. The climate of the state is excellent for viticulture because
of the state's very long coastline with numerous beautiful beaches
and the fact that the Narragansett
Bay gulf stream warms the air. This gives it one of the mildest climates
in the northeast, making it easier for you to decide when
to go. Winter temperatures rarely drop below zero, and the cooler summers
and longer autumns provide the Rhode Island vineyards with perfect growing weather.
After the charter, Rhode Island wineries continued to produce fine vintages until Prohibition. The state's modern winemaking era began again in 1975, with the establishment of Sakonnet Vineyards in Little Compton in Newport County. Today, the few small and medium wineries produce high-quality wines derived primarily from French hybrid grapes and cooler climate vinifera (Mediterranean) varietals. In addition to Sakonnet Vineyards, Rhode Island wineries include Greenvale Vineyards, Newport Vineyards and Winery, Langworthy Farm, Shelalara Vineyards, and Diamond Hill Vineyards.
Greenvale and Newport Vineyards are also in Newport County, and, with Sakonnet, comprise the portion of the Coastal Wine Trail that is in the state. The trail continues north into Massachusetts, where it includes two wineries from that state. Sakonnet Vineyards is an award-winning vineyard with 45 acres of vinifera varietals including Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Vidal Blanc (a French-American hybrid). They produce more than 30,000 cases annually and there are thirteen Rhode Island wine choices. Greenvale Vineyards is located on Prudence Island in Narragansett Bay, and is a lovely 1860s Victorian farm that is on the National Register of Historic Places. If you're visiting the stately coastal mansions, Newport Vineyards is quite close by, and is active is preserving the state's history by acquiring and conserving several surrounding historic farms.
Langworthy Farm is located in the town of Westerly
on the Connecticut
border, across the water from Block
Island. This is one of the wineries in Rhode Island located on scenic Route
1A, the coastal route that follows the ocean all the way through New England
into Massachusetts, New Hampshire,
Maine, and to the country's
border with Canada. It's also
a historic bed and breakfast inn, providing an excellent starting point for
autumn foliage tours. Also in the western part of the state is Shelalara Vineyards,
not far from the town of Warwick
and one of the state's newest wineries.
Another of the Rhode Island vineyards is Diamond Hill Vineyards, located in the far northeast corner of the state near the town of Woonsocket. This vineyard was first planted with Pinot Noir grapes in 1976. Because of the long growing season for this grape, the owners decided to revive the New England tradition of fruit wines, and also cultivated rapidly-producing orchards and berry fields. The winery is well known for its peach, apple, raspberry, and blueberry wines.