16th Annual Harvest Festival

Greenvale Vineyards will host its 16th Annual Harvest Festival on November 14th from 1 to 4pm. The event is held to celebrate the completion of the annual grape harvest. Everyone is welcome to attend. Check out some event highlights below.

mission burgerMission
Mission NPT will be setting up the “Mission Grille” serving up the “Best Burger in RI“, hot dogs and falafel! Check out what Go Local Providence has to say about Mission.

Live Jazz
With Karen Frisk on vocals, Greg Wardson on the piano, Alan Bernstein on bass and Rick Wells on drums, this will be one foot tapping jazz session.

GoSports-CornHole-Bean-Bag-Toss-Game-Set-CH-01Fire Pit & Lawn Games
Enjoy the beautiful vineyard grounds with a glass of wine by the fire or while playing a game of corn hole or life-size Jenga!

Tractor Rides & Face Painting
Fun for the whole family! Tractor rides throughout the afternoon along with face painting for the kids!

Date: Saturday, November 14th
Time: 1:00pm – 4:00pm
Cost: General Admission is $3 per person. In addition guests are welcome to taste at $12, buy wine by the glass $7-$9 or simply enjoy the day’s activities.
Location: Greenvale Vineyards, 582 Wapping Road, Portsmouth, RI 02871

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A Week as a Winemaker During Harvest
by Richard Carmichael, Greenvale's winemaker

Winemaker Richard Carmichael inspects the vines at Greenvale Vineyards

Winemaker Richard Carmichael inspects the vines at Greenvale Vineyards

Ever wondered what it takes to be a winemaker? We asked Greenvale’s winemaker, Richard Carmichael, to give us an overview of what his typical week is like during harvest season.

Pre-Harvest: It’s my job to make the official judgment call on when to harvest. This includes measuring several key markers that are critical to the final color, flavor, and quality of the wine. First, I inspect the grapes for ripeness, flavor, and tannin development (seed color and taste). I then test sugar (brix), acid, and pH levels. If they’re up to par, I give the green light. Let the harvest begin!

Days 1 and 2: Rise and shine! There’s much to be done once harvest is underway, and it’s never too early to start. Getting out there and handpicking the grapes from the vines is the first step of harvest. It’s a team effort, and a great deal of work.

Much of my time is spent hauling one-ton bins of freshly picked grapes off to the winery to be crushed. I then wait for an opportunity to use the crush equipment that we share with our friends at Newport Vineyards.

During this period of harvest, my typical workday starts around 7am and can easily run 15 hours or longer.

Days 3 and 4: Harvests for a single wine variety can yield up to 10 tons of grapes. They need to be de-stemmed and crushed. Our team dumps the grapes into a large machine to make this happen. It crushes the grapes before they are set aside for two to three days for pre-fermentation maceration.

White wine then goes onto be pressed. This allows us to extract the juice and discard the grape skins. To press the grapes we use a basket press for small batches, or a larger machine when necessary. (We skip the pressing step for red wine grapes because the skins give the wine its rich color.)

As all of this goes on, I am in charge of cleaning the equipment after use. Sanitation might not immediately come to mind when you think of winemaking. It’s certainly not the most exciting part, but it’s crucial to the process nonetheless.

I make sure to deep clean every inch of the crushing equipment and then treat it with the proper solutions to rid it of harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. Ignoring this step could compromise the fruit and the finished product.

Days 5 and 6: The grapes are left to settle for a period of time after they are crushed or pressed. Usually, a day or two later, it is up to me to make sure the grape juice is racked. This means filtering it out of the settling tank to get rid of any residue prior to fermentation.

Once again, I set about cleaning. This time, it’s the tank out of which the juice was racked.

The next step is to inoculate the grapes with yeast to start the fermentation process that will turn it into delicious wine.

Day 7: Once the wine has started fermenting, I’ll be checking the wine’s progress daily. I’ll rack the wine again at the end of fermentation. Then it’s time for even more cleaning!

So far this year we’ve been enjoying a successful harvest. My team and I are looking forward to the day we can sit back and take a sip from the fruits of our labor.

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How to Host a Wine and Cheese Party

Wine and cheese: the perfect pair. Enjoying with friends makes it that much better. If you’ve considered hosting a wine and cheese party but aren’t sure where to start, read on for our simple tips:

1. Make your guest list. Have an idea of how many will be attending before you shop. You’ll want to plan for one ounce of cheese per guest.

2. Do your homework. What types of cheeses tend to pair nicely with dry whites? Is there a go-to variety for enjoying with reds?

3. Pick your pairings. Be sure to include a variety of cheese, from the creamy (such as Brie) to the mild (like goat cheese), and aged (think Gouda) to the pungent (like Gorgonzola).

You’ll also want a range of wines. Choose dry, slightly sweet reds like Merlot, and refreshing whites like Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. Mix in a bottle of bubbly with champagne or Prosecco.

Keep in mind, harder cheeses pair well with bolder wines. Cream cheeses sing alongside wines of higher acidity. Salty cheeses match best with sweet wines. Here are some of our favorite pairings:

Brie & Chardonnay
Gouda & Merlot
Fresh Goat Cheese & Sauvignon Blanc
Camembert & Prosecco
Cheddar & Cabernet

4. Create your shopping list to include wine, cheese, and other essentials. Here’s an overview of the must-haves, aside from wine and cheese:

Materials to label each cheese and wine variety
Wine glasses for each guest, plus a few extra for mishaps or additional visitors
A cutting board and cheese knives. This is also a great way to serve your guests, straight from the cutting board
Cheese plates (whether to use paper or your finest china is up to you!)
Palate cleansers (water, fresh fruit, dry crackers, nuts, olives)

When the party arrives, be sure to serve both wine and cheese at the proper temperature to enjoy their full flavor.

5. Guide your guests through the experience. You’ve put a lot of thought into this! Inform them as to how you chose your pairings. Let them know it’s best to taste the cheese by itself first, and then alongside the wine, to see how the two complement each other. Get their feedback, and start planning your next soiree!

Are you feeling ready? Go on, get planning! Wine and cheese parties a wonderful way to explore new varieties of both.

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Vintage Variation: What Does It Mean for My Wine?

wine pouring cropDo you hear people talk about “good vintages” and wonder what it means? When a vineyard has a particularly favorable growing season, wine produced and bottled that year becomes known as a “good vintage.” That might mean it comes highly recommended, or with a higher price tag based on popularity.

A less favorable year does not mean a bad wine. Winemakers will work around most any curveball that nature throws their way and produce wine to be proud of.

You know you’ll have a different experience picking out fresh produce in August than you will in December. We understand that the shopping experience depends upon what’s in season. And even when you know fresh corn is in season, last year’s crop may have been the best you ever had, where this year’s isn’t quite as memorable.

This has to do with many external growing factors, from the soil to the rainfall, and humidity to frost and sun exposure. We can thank Mother Nature for the changes between one summer’s strawberries and the next.

The same is true for grapes. Changes in grapes mean changes in wine from year to year. This is known as vintage variation. Cooler growing regions with more volatile weather patterns, like Southern New England, are known to have greater variation between vintages.

At Greenvale Vineyards we’re not immune to vintage variation. The unpredictable Southern New England weather can significantly affect our wine. Because the vinifera grapes grown here are more complicated to grow than other varieties and the weather variation has a big affect on the flavors.

For example, if an area experiences heavy rainfall toward the end of a growing season, dilution may prevent the grapes from having as much flavor. Excessive heat can cause grapes to over-ripen, which causes them to lose acidity and affects the wine.

Rest assured, when you taste Greenvale wine you won’t have to worry about vintage variation. It’s interesting to be aware of and makes perfect sense given that unpredictable New England weather we’re all familiar with. But year after year, we continue to produce wine with consistent taste profiles. Our winemaker is skilled at balancing the flavor profiles and delivering the final product you know and love.

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The Perfect Aquidneck Island Day Trip

If you’ve visited Newport, RI before, you’re probably already familiar with the major sites but you may not have had the chance to explore the upper end of Aquidneck Island. Our vineyard lies at the center of the east coast of the island. In addition to restaurants, beaches, and cafes there are nature trails, farm stands, wildlife refuges, and a seemingly endless supply of picture-perfect picnic spots. Even though you can fill much more than a day roaming around this island, we’ve compiled our favorite one-day itinerary.

9:00 am – Coffee and Pastries at Sweet Berry Farm (Middletown)
Start your day at Sweet Berry Farm. You can help yourself to some coffee, pastries (baked right on the premises), and even pick your own fruit right off the farm if the mood strikes you. Put together a packed lunch while you’re there for a picnic later in the day.

10:00 am – Hike on the Sakonnet Greenway Trail (Portsmouth and Middletown)
Totaling ten miles, this is the island’s longest nature trail. You don’t have to do all ten miles though; there are various parking spots and loops you can choose from. The trail winds around grazing fields, snakes through the woods, and passes along a golf course. Leashed dogs are welcome. View the trail map and parking options before heading out.

12:00 – Lunch at Third Beach (Middletown)
Hop in your car and head over to one of the island’s most serene beaches. Enjoy your lunch al fresco overlooking the calm water and moored sailboats. (There is a parking fee from Memorial Day through Labor Day.)

1:30 pm – Live Jazz and Wine Tasting at Greenvale Vineyards
Spend an elegant afternoon sipping wine among the vines to the backdrop of live jazz performed on the terrace. Explore our traditional Victorian New England style stable built in 1863 that now serves as our tasting room. (Read about the restoration here.) Try the Albariño, our newest white wine available for the first time in August 2015.

4:00 pm – Drive on Ocean Drive with a stop at Gooseneck Cove (Newport)
Cruise along the southern coast of the island of a spectacular view of the open ocean. You can park at Brenton Point State Park to take in the view and even fly a kite, it’s one of the windiest spots on the island (and home to the annual Kite Festival). As you make your way back to Newport, stop and watch the sunset from King Park.

6:00 pm – Dinner in Newport
As local wine producers, we favor restaurants that serve locally grown food. These places support our local farmers and will end your day trip on one heck of a high note.

Thames Street Kitchen
Brick Alley Pub
22 Bowen’s Wine Bar & Grille
Smoke House
The Mooring Seafood and Kitchen Bar
Vanderbilt Grace
41 North
Tallulah on Thames
Castle Hill Inn

Tell us, what are your favorite spots on Aquidneck Island?

 

 

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What’s In A Price Tag? Inexpensive vs. Expensive Wines

whats in a price tagHave you ever splurged on a bottle of wine and felt underwhelmed with how it tasted? Perhaps you’ve purchased a bargain bottle in a pinch and it became a new favorite. As both of these scenarios illustrate: you can’t judge a wine by its price tag.

If not for the taste, what makes one bottle of red $8.99, and another $89? Good question! There are some key differences between value wines and top-dollar varieties aside from the sticker price. They are generally related to where the grapes were grown, how the wine was aged and how long it was aged for. Here’s why these factors matter:

Where the grapes were grown: Good grapes are a product of their environment. Vineyards with temperate climates, plenty of sunlight, and fertile, well-draining soil will produce superior grapes and wines. Slopes and hillsides are even better for grape growing. You’ll pay more per bottle for wines that come from a desirable locale. For example, a wine made in Italy may cost you $15, where a wine produced in Tuscany in specific may cost $20. Tuscany is known for its favorable growing conditions and high-quality wines.

How the wine was aged: Wine should be aged at cool, stable temperatures, out of direct sunlight. It takes time and effort to create the ideal storing conditions, which is reflected in the price tag. Many fine wines are aged in oak barrels, which can be quite costly, and up the sticker price. Wine aged in steel barrels is typically cheaper.

How long the wine was aged: Aged wine becomes more complex (and delicious) as it matures. A winemaker understands how to perfectly age their varieties to extract the best flavor profile. When a wine is held for years, it takes up time and space that adds to the overall cost of the finished product.

Expensive wines were typically grown in a highly regarded region and can be worth the splurge if you’re up for it. Treating yourself to a more expensive wine can make an occasional all the more special. Aged red wines can make for better splurges as they typically benefit more from the aging process than whites.

Still, it’s important to remember that a vineyard is going to want to offer you their very best no matter what. Don’t ignore a wine because of a modest (or even a budget) price tag. In the end, it comes down to matter of preference, so choose what you enjoy.

If you’re not sure where to begin, stop by your local vineyard and ask some questions. The staff will be able to describe the growing season, grape varieties, aging process, and more. And best of all, you’re guaranteed to walk away with a modestly-priced purchase that was locally grown and harvested. Supporting the local economy and sipping on something delicious — what could be better?

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Celebrate Coaching Weekend with Greenvale Vineyards

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A Weekend of Coaching is a longstanding tradition in Newport County, and it’s a triennial occasion not to be missed. The event is hosted by the Preservation Society of Newport County. It transports spectators back to the 19th century, when horse-and-carriage was the preferred method of transportation.

Coaching was also regarded as both a sporting activity and social affair. It originated in England where horse-drawn coaches were used for mail delivery. Railroads quickly became a more efficient means of delivery and transportation but nostalgia prevented the coaches from disappearing altogether. They were at their peak popularity between 1880 and 1910 in the Newport area. Many prominent Newport County residents belonged to the prestigious coaching clubs that were active in the area. Coaches would gather to attend various events in this area each summer.

This is your chance to see the coaches for yourself while sipping award-winning wine. Greenvale Vineyards will welcome 44 horses driving 11 coaches from across the country as part of coaching weekend. Join us at the vineyard to celebrate this historic tradition. Here are the details:

Date: Friday, August 21st
Time: Arrive at 11:45am to be in time to see the coaches arrive
Place: Historic Greenvale Vineyards, 582 Wapping Road, Portsmouth, RI 02871

This event is free and open to the public. Please feel free to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy as you take in the sights. Wine tastings are also available.

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Choosing Wine From a Wine List

Wine ListIt’s a familiar scenario: You’re escorted to your seat at a restaurant, and promptly handed the wine list. Vini di CaliforniaVini di Italia…a laundry list of whites and reds…vintages, and what is petite syrah, anyway?

Oh, the wine list. Too often it is feared when it should be savored. Here are some tips on navigating the wine list at your favorite restaurant:

Study up. Most restaurants make their wine lists available on their website, so you can review it before you dine. You may not make a decision ahead of time, but you can arrive prepared with questions about the wines that interest you. Don’t have a chance to check it out ahead of time? Take a few minutes with it when you arrive. Don’t feel rushed. These lists are lengthy, and much of the information will be unfamiliar to you. Which brings us to our next point…

Ask questions. Lots of them, if need be. Start by asking what the restaurant specializes in. Wine professionals put significant time and effort into creating this list for your enjoyment. The wait staff or wine steward is there to help. They will know what pairs nicely with the entree you’re considering, and can make interesting suggestions within your price range.

Budget ahead of time. Wine can range from $30 to upwards of $500 a bottle at some restaurants. Know what you’re most comfortable spending to provide focus and make your decision easier. This will also help restaurant staff to make appropriate suggestions within your price range.

Look for familiar names. Not to order them, necessarily, but to give you a sense of the sommelier’s tastes. See something you like? Great! Trust that you’ll likely enjoy other selections he or she has made as well. When in doubt try ordering a variety from a winery you have enjoyed in the past.

Explore vintage options. Vintage-dated wine indicates that it was made in a particular year. “Good” vintages are well-balanced, based on outstanding growing conditions that year. But don’t be afraid to try an “off” vintage wine. How do you spot one? Look for several vintages of the same wine on the list. Typically, one will come with a much lower price tag. This is because the cheaper vintage was produced in a year that wasn’t known to be one of the very best. That doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable, so give it a try.

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Announcing the Summer Jazz Series Photo Contest

Greenvale-Instagram-Photo-ContestYour camera produces shots of scenic landscapes and happy memories but has it ever produced a bottle of wine?

This season for the first time we’re giving you a chance to win a free bottle of Greenvale’s award-winning wine in exchange for a photo! Contest begins May 9th and ends December 12th. That’s 33 chances to win!

HOW TO ENTER:

Follow @GreenvaleVineyards on Instagram.

Snap a photo, post it to Greenvale’s Instagram page and tag it #GreenvaleVineyards. Include a caption about your experience.

THE PRIZE:

One winner per week will receive a free bottle of Greenvale wine. (If you don’t hashtag, you can’t win!)

The more you visit and submit the more chances you have to win. Multiple entries are allowed but you can only win once.

KEEP IN MIND:

You must be 21+ to enter. Prize must be picked up at Greenvale Vineyards. The perfect excuse to return.

QUESTIONS? Contact Maggie Harnett at maggie@greenvale.com

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Annual Restoration Celebration is May 16th

Reena pours a tastingMark your calendars, our annual Restoration Celebration will take place on Saturday, May 16th from 1pm to 4pm. In addition to wine tastings we’ll be offering food samples from local artisans, live jazz, tractor rides, and vineyard tours. It’s a unique and memorable way to kick off the season.

We host this event at the vineyard each year to celebrate the restoration of Greenvale Farm and Vineyards’ beautiful horse stable-turned-Tasting Room as part of National Preservation Month. We’re opening our doors for an intimate tour of the standing stalls, restored “tack room” and cow barn foundation which have earned us several awards for Historic Preservation and Adaptive Reuse. Read about the history of the horse stable and restoration process on our website.

We’ll be pouring three newly released wines: 2010 Cabernet Franc, 2009 Meritage and the 2012 Chardonnay. Be among the first to try them!

Date: Saturday, May 16th
Time: 1pm – 4pm
Location: Greenvale Vineyards, 582 Wapping Road, Portsmouth (Directions)
Price: $15 (free for Case Club members).
Questions?: Call (401) 847-3777 or email information@greenvale.com

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