Sunday, June 26, 2011

Coastal Wine Trail Today!!!! June 26th, 2011!


Festival highlights coastal vineyards
By Joanna McQuillan Weeks
A Slice of Life
June 22, 2011 12:00 AM
South Coast Today

What could be more pleasant than to spend a summer afternoon in a vineyard, sampling wine and delicious food?

That's the prospect in store for Sunday at Sakonnet Vineyards in Little Compton, R.I. The occasion is the Coastal Wine Trail Festival, featuring its nine member wineries. Representing SouthCoast are Coastal Vineyards, Travessia Urban Winery, Running Brook and Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery.

While there, it would be fitting to raise a glass and toast the Russell family, which this year is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Westport Rivers winery. I caught up with winemaker Bill Russell by telephone Friday, and chatted with him about the wine trail, the spring season, and his winery's plans to celebrate.

Though most of us moaned about the cool, wet weather in May, Russell said "it is kind of normal in a way." He said established plants, like their 80 acres of grape vines, react differently than the transplants we place in our gardens.

Russell said it's still an uphill battle to convince wine lovers that Massachusetts wines are more than a novelty. "When I think back, it's not the natural climate that's been the challenge, it's our cultural climate," he said ruefully.

Through the decades, Westport Rivers wines have won dozens of gold medals, acclaim in the press, placement on wine lists at stellar restaurants, and been served at the White House by two presidents. "They're exceptional, not just OK," said Russell.

The winemaker said the Coastal Wine Trail and its passport program ( have been helpful to "those off the beaten path," like Westport Rivers. "We're all just a bunch of farmers who are working across state lines to promote what we're doing down here."

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