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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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

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Wine Tasting New England-Style

Saturday, May 2nd is opening day of this year’s Summer Jazz series at Greenvale Vineyards. Rolling green hills, a historic New England style barn-turned-tasting- room, live jazz and locally grown and made wine—it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

Follow these three tips to guarantee an afternoon to remember.

Pack a Picnic.
Pick up a bottle of your favorite vintage from our tasting room and bring along some bread, cheese and fruit. Get comfortable on a blanket or some beach chairs on our lawn overlooking the vines and you have the makings of a perfect vineyard picnic. Party of one? No problem! Relaxing at the vineyard is the best way we can think of to spend some quality Me Time.

Family and Kids Greenvale Vineyards Portsmouth RIBring a Friend…or the Whole Family.
Vineyard views, a cozy restored barn and live jazz offer the ideal backdrop for catching up with a friend or relaxing with your family. Let the kids burn of some energy while you sample local wines and take-in the scenery. Pets welcome, too (on leashes, of course. There are just too many tempting things to explore at the farm!)

Greenvale Vineyards Instagram summer jazz Photo ContestPost it.
Snap a photo, post it to Greenvale’s Instagram page and tag it #GreenvaleVineyards. Include a caption about your experience. One winner per week will receive a free bottle of wine. More info here.


Where: Greenvale Vineyards, 582 Wapping Road, Portsmouth, RI (Get Directions)
When: Every Saturday from May through December 12th, 1pm – 4pm
How: General Admission: $3, Tastings: $12 (free for Case Club members). Wine by the glass: $7 – $9.

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New Releases! 2009 Meritage, 2010 Cabernet Franc & 2012 Chardonnay

Greenvale Cabernet Franc Meritage ChardonnayWe’re excited to announce that our 2009 Meritage, 2010 Cabernet Franc and 2012 Chardonnay are ready to be enjoyed. Stop by the vineyard for a wine tasting before July 10th and receive a free wine bottle opener! (Just mention this blog article.) As you know, all of our wines are Estate grown.

About our Meritage.  With rich aromas of berry, soft on the palate and with subtle hints of smoke in the finish, this Bordeaux-style wine pairs well with many foods including dark chocolate. It’s dry, medium bodied, and barrel aged to perfection.

About our Chardonnay. Greenvale’s winemaker, Richard, has fermented and aged our Chardonnay in French Oak barrels, imparting a soft oaky richness to each sip. The oak flavors are subtle so we capture the delicious fruit flavors our chardonnay grapes. We describe this vintage as dry, well balanced and fruit forward, with buttery notes. You can learn more about how we make this special wine in this article.

About Our Cabernet Franc. Our Cabernet Franc is also fermented in a blend of French, American and Hungarian oak barrels. It’s a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes. The Merlot adds color, depth, and flavor complexity to the Cabernet Franc. For Cabernet Franc fans this is one of the best.

Come and taste them for yourself and tell us what you think.

*Offer valid until July 10th or while supplies last.

See you soon!

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2nd Portsmouth, Rhode Island Gallery Art Night
Proceeds to Benefit Portsmouth Art Guild

Portsmouth RI Art Gallery Night

Come out for the 2nd Portsmouth, Rhode Island Gallery Art Night!

The Portsmouth Arts Guild is celebrating the opening of two art shows: “Imagine Orange” and the “Works On Paper Fundraiser”. Save the date, April 17th, from 5 pm to 8 pm for this town-wide event.

Awards for the “Works On Paper Fundraiser” will be presented in the tasting room at 6 pm. Artists from all over the country have donated artworks including oils, collage, watercolors, jewelry, prints, photos and high quality reproductions. These unique works will be for sale for only $20 each and proceeds will go to benefit the Portsmouth Arts Guild Center for the Arts.The other locations open and showing work will be the Portsmouth Public Library, 2658 East Main Road and Portsmouth Town Hall, 2300 East Main Road.

During the same time, and exclusively at Portsmouth Arts Guild Gallery, 2679 East Main Road, Portsmouth, RI, celebrate the Imagine Orange Guild Members Juried Exhibition. This is latest in the series of annual color-inspired events designed to have Members create some wonderful works in all media. These works will be juried by Jason Fong, Executive Director of the South County Art Association. Awards for this show will be given to Artists at 7 pm.

This event is part of the Portsmouth Arts Guild Center for the Arts continuing effort to share Art with the community and an opportunity for artists to show their work.

For more information call the Guild at 401-293-5273 or The Annex at 401-847-4607

Date: April 17
Time: 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Wine Tasting: $12
Location: Greenvale Vineyards Tasting Room (Get Directions)

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A Welcomed Visitor: Bobolinks find a happy home at Greenvale

Bobolink Rhode Island

Google Images

Bobolink. This joyful little songbird has a name that’s fun to say—and they’re even more fun to look at. Male bobolinks are said to look like they put their clothes (or a tuxedo) on backwards. They have white backs and black underbellies. With a bubbling song, they’re also enjoyable to listen to—if you are lucky enough to spot one.

Unfortunately, their numbers have been on a steady decline across the United States since the late 1960’s. International bird conversation group Partners in Flight has listed them as a “common bird in steep decline” in recent years. In the Northeast alone, there has been a dramatic 75 percent decrease in the bobolink population within the past 40 years, according to the Breeding Bird Survey.

Bobolinks are disappearing because their habitat is, too. They make their nests in native grasslands which are harder and harder to find as new developments pop up. Instead, they now settle mostly in hayfields. The problem there is that the hay harvest typically occurs in mid-June, around the time the bobolinks’ eggs hatch. If the nests aren’t destroyed altogether as the fields are plowed down, the eggs or baby birds are exposed to predators, with little to no chance of survival.

Ready for some happy news?

Conservationists are hard at work, encouraging farmers to hold off on cutting their hay until the bobolink nesting season is over. And this season, the beautiful birds have been spotted right here on Wapping Road in Portsmouth!

We’re proud to maintain our grasslands in a way that attracts these wild birds and excited they’ve chosen to nest here.

The bobolink has one of the longest migrations of all the songbirds. Although they accumulate more than 12,500 air miles during migration each year, bobolinks often return to the same fields to nest year after year. We can only hope they’ll come back to visit us again.

Your experience here at Greenvale just got a little more unique, thanks to our feathered friends. We invite you to take advantage of this unique chance to bird watch.

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Wine Gifting Guide
By Maggie Harnett, Tasting Room Manager at Greenvale Vineyards


This article first appeared in the Winter 2014/2015 issue of Newport Naked magazine

With the holidays fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to spread good cheer. Wine makes a thoughtful (and delicious) gift for a gracious host, Secret Santa, and just about anyone. Here, we answer some of your top etiquette questions when it comes to offering wine as a gift.

Q: Should I bring a personal favorite or something I know the host likes?
A: I’m in favor of bringing something you like. I think of my friends as adventurous—why not seize the opportunity to impress them and introduce something new? At the same time, if you know they prefer red, that can be a great starting point.

Q: Should I try to pair the bottle with food?
A: If you know what you are having for dinner, by all means. If not, an aperitif wine (or one that is served before dinner) makes a nice choice. Skipping Stone White and sparking wines are great options.

You may also bring a bottle that holds sentimental value—whether it’s from a destination you visited with the host or a winery you’ve been to in person. This adds a personal touch that is sure to be appreciated.

Q: When I bring a bottle for the host, should I expect that it will be opened or is it considered a gift for later?
A: Often the expectation is in the packaging and your host will follow your lead. If you bring an unwrapped bottle that you’d like to enjoy with the host that evening, you could say something like, “I’ve already got this chilled down—I’d be happy to open it for a toast before dinner!”

A wrapped bottled often tells the host that they should pop it open at a later time. You may say something like, “This is one of my favorites! When you have a quiet time to enjoy it, let me know what you think.”

Best case scenario: bring two! One for opening that evening and another as a gift.

Q: If the bottle is unopened by the time I leave, should I take it with me?
A: Typically no. You brought it as an offering and a way to say “thank you,” so you wouldn’t want to take it back. Let your hosts enjoy it when they’re ready.

Q: Is one bottle enough for a large party or should I bring two?
A: It’s not up to you to provide wine for the entire party so one bottle is a sufficient contribution. Chances are, other guests will come bearing wine as well.

Don’t let wine etiquette intimidate you. Remember: It’s the thought that counts, and you really can’t go wrong. Enjoy the festivities!

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Staff Profile: Brian Schopfer, Farm Manager at Greenvale Vineyards

Brian Schopfer joined the Greenvale Vineyards team in 2001. He started in the tasting room where he offered visitors wine tastings and giving vineyard tours. After a brief absence for a sailing trip (with his future wife, Aynsley!) he returned to us in 2003 as the Farm Manager. He does landscape and building management projects on our historic farm as well as his own unique woodworking projects made from fallen trees on the farm. Check out his handmade furniture, cutting boards and more. Continue reading

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The Don’ts of Wine Tasting

We recently posted on this blog about what you can expect at a wine tasting at Greenvale Vineyards. Since we want you to feel comfortable here, the tasting room staff thought it might be helpful to mention a few things to avoid doing to help ensure you have the best possible experience. Here they are:

  • Don’t Wear Overpowering Fragrances: Have you ever walked into a candle shop, and almost been able to taste the fragrances? Maybe you even got a bit of a headache from the mix of scents. When it comes to wine tasting, strong scents can interrupt your experience. You may want to skip perfumes and colognes that could overpower subtle notes and fragrances in the wine. Continue reading
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Holiday Wine Tasting at Greenvale Vineyards Dec 13th
"Warm Up" for the holidays with us!

Holiday wine tasting party at Greenvale VineyardsJoin us on December 13th as we “Warm Up for the Holidays” with tastings of our award-winning wines, food samples from local vendors and holiday favorites performed live by Dick Lupino and friends.

There will also be gifts for sale, free vineyard tours and fun activities for kids.

Tastings are $15 per person and include a sample of seven varieties of our estate-grown wine plus a souvenir wine glass. Continue reading

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