Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Greenvale Vineyards - A New England Gem (RI)

Greenvale Vineyards is one of my favorite New England producers, and yet I have not written that much about them because I have not been up there for a while. Firstly, it is one of the most unique wineries you will ever visit. It’s terrifically beautiful in an understated way. Greenvale Vineyards produces small quantities of exceptional estate grown wines. They are located along the Sakonnet River in Portsmouth, RI, five miles north of downtown Newport.

Greenvale is a farm that has been in the same family since 1863. It is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Their goal is to maintain this piece of American history in a productive and meaningful way. One of their goals at Greenvale Farm and Vineyards is to ensure economic viability of farming. In their view, farms and open space preserve the quality of life and the character that makes Aquidneck Island unique. They produce approximately 3,500 cases of wine a year.


According to them, “Farming in Rhode Island is dwindling but with the help of agritourism and enterprises such as Rhode Island Farm Ways, the state and federal agencies who support our efforts and the general public who recognize the value of buy local, we can keep the small farms alive.”
How can you not love this place already?

Cortlandt and Nancy Knowles Parker, a native of New York State where her grandfather grew grapes, began her newspaper career on the Washington Evening Star and then the Newark Evening News where she met her husband of 50 years, Cortlandt Parker. Together they started a chain of weekly/community newspapers in New Jersey. She then started a quarterly newspaper for the New England wine region called the New England Wine Gazette. There are now three wine newspapers, the New England Wine Gazette, the Finger Lakes Wine Gazette, the Long Island Wine Gazette and the Virginia Wine Gazette.

Nancy Parker Wilson has been General Manager for Greenvale Vineyards since she, her husband and parents embarked on this enterprise in 1992. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, she moved to Boston after graduation and spent considerable time as a community relations executive and director for several nationally recognized companies. She presently serves on the board of the South End Historical Society, Aquidneck Land Trust, Rhode Island Center for Agricultural Promotion and Education and on the Collections Committee for the Preservation Society of Newport County.

William F. Wilson of Boston is President of Wilson Architects an architectural practice recognized for designing and building beautiful college and university buildings with a specialty in the sciences. Bill graduated from Harvard College and Harvard’s Graduate School of Design. Bill was an influential architect for more than a quarter of a decade for a prestigious design firm in Boston. Bill is currently on the board of the Preservation Society of Newport County.

Richard Carmichael joined Greenvale Vineyards as Winemaker in 1997. Prior to Greenvale he had been the Assistant Winemaker at the Williamsburg Winery in Williamsburg Virginia. Richard graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Enology from California State University at Fresno and was a winemaker in California for a number of years before moving back East. Richard lives with his wife Maggie Jones in Newport.
Richard caught the winemaking bug at a winemaker’s conference and quickly packed his bags and headed for the West Coast to learn firsthand. His experience has taught him that winemaking is neither an art nor a science, but a craft. “I don’t know if anyone can ever master this craft,” he says, but with seasons of practice under his belt, he’s well on his way.
Hever Ortega joined Greenvale Vineyards in 1992 as an assistant in the Vineyards. He was promoted to Vineyard Manager in 1994. In 1992, Hever had just moved from Guatamala and had been hired by Cortlandt Parker to assist in the vineyard. Hever lives with his wife and son in Providence.


We had the Greenvale Chardonnay 2010 on Super Bowl weekend. The wine was made in French oak, and was made on its lees. The use a malolactic fermentation. The wine was bright, with a lovely big nose of apple and pear up front, with hints of tropical fruits with a lovely hint of vanilla. Lovely, complex, and incredibly delicious, it was an instant hit. It went down fast between four adults, and the question, “What happened to the chardonnay?” became a familiar refrain, because it went way too quickly! Fantastic! 
We had enjoyed a bottle of Greenvale Cabernet Franc 2007 sometime earlier in the month. Cabernet Franc has been growing well for Greenvale and many others in New England, especially in Connecticut (the Mystic and Stonington area) and Rhode Island (Newport and Sakonnet area). It’s naturally cold-hardy, and ripens earlier than many other reds. Winemaker Richard Carmichael says: “We blend our Cab Franc with a small amount of Merlot to add more color, depth, and flavor complexity. In general, the percentage of Merlot varies from vintage to vintage, but is never more than 25% (if it was more, we couldn’t label it as Cab Franc).”
It’s a well-balanced, medium bodied Bordeux-styled dry red. Cherry is big on the nose. Plum and spice come through as promised. Beautiful soft tannins and nice acidity make this a lovely table red that goes beautifully with food. This is a very lovely Cab Franc. An incredibly well-balanced, medium bodied, highly drinkable red. Wonderful!
Two great wines from one of New England’s best wineries!