If you've thought of New England wineries as being a recent change, it's time for you to plan a trip to Greenvale Vineyards in Rhode Island. Greenvale has been a family operated farm for generations, tracing its history back to 1863 and a great-great-great uncle. Even the lovely wood-built tasting area is housed in a restored, historic barn. The vineyards stretch for acres around the property, providing a gorgeous backdrop to your tasting experience.
Greenvale first had vines planted in the 1960s, beginning with vidal blanc, cayuga and marechal foch. They slowly added in more grape types - Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, and Pinot Gris. They now have 22 acres of grapes, creating 3,500 cases of wine. They find that the nearby water provides an even growing temperature, and that they can produce wines similar to Oregon and Washington State.
Owner Nancy Parker was on hand to discuss the history of the winery, and pour out her delicious selections. She discussed how the vineyard plots are all unique, and how the influences of the water and hills can create a 5 degree difference in temperature even in their small land area. They know each vine individually, tailoring their winemaking style to maximize the fruit created in each acre.
2001 Greenvale Chardonnay
Nancy explained that "we really like to keep the fruit as a strong flavor of the wine". Unlike other wineries that hide the flavors under layers of oak, this Chardonnay was very resh tasting, with apple and green apple flavors. "2001 was a great growing season" she added, describing how they had to prune the vines a great deal to allow the remaining fruit to reach its maximum potential. Some wineries harvest 6 tons or more of fruit per acre; Greenvale brought their yield down to only 2-3 tons per acres to focus on that quality.
The wine is 75% barrel feremnted in French oak, and 25% in stainless steel. That helps preserve the delicate flavors in the wine. Even the finish was gentle and lovely.
2001 Chardonnay Select
Greenvale's attention to detail really shines through in this wine. They start with grapes that were plated betgween 1984 and 1990, on a group of 4 acres. The fact that these grapes are all of the same age gives them "just a bit of subtlety," explained Nancy. The result is a creamy, soft wine with hints of apple, nuts and fruit, and a gentle finish.
The winery is not just about creating wines but also a legacy. "Our end goal is conservation, preservation of open space, and production of fine wine," explained Nancy. This is not necessarily an easy task in New England. "Every 4-5 years we have a killer season," she admitted. "2000 was rough. Maybe we got above 70F three or four times." They ended up pruning the vidal back to 1 ton/acre yield, and you can see the concentration in the darker color of the wine.
The wine has a just-picked aroma, truly the smell of the fresh fruit.
Visited in January 2005
All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.