“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”
― Ernest Hemingway
Look, Hemingway has long been considered one of the most celebrated authors of the 20th century, but the quote above may just prove it. Wine is a universal language; it’s a way to experience the flavors of a new country; a new culture. It’s an invitation to spend time with friends; to talk without hurry, to—much like the way wine is made, to take your time.
When I saw the newly launched FitVine Wine had Newport ties, I took notice. As the apropos name implies, the wine appeals to those dedicated to a fit lifestyle (this doesn’t mean you need six-pack-abs to enjoy…). Specifically, this clean is not bogged down with additives or residual sugar. It has 1/3 calories and carbs of comparable wines and 1/3 of the sulfites. How? According to founders Mark Warren, Tom Beaton and Zach Schultz, FitVine grapes are grown at high altitude in the Sierra Foothills of California (the wine is made in nearby Lodi, Calif.) and therefore, naturally yield higher concentrations of beneficial compounds including resveratrol, polyphenols and proanthocyanidins. An extended fermentation process enhances the antioxidants and optimizes the pH levels. It’s the later result that makes it unnecessary to add sugars, additives and/or unnecessary amounts of sulfites. Thus, a cleaner wine is born.
With their active lifestyles, Mark, Tom and Zach were inspired to find a savory alternative to other celebratory cocktails. “I was getting older and continuing to workout doing the usual stuff: running, CrossFit, yoga etc., and I often noticed after a race or a competition, people would drink Bud Light or other mass produced products that I knew weren’t all that great—at least not for me,” says Tom. “My thinking was I just put in all this work into this competition, I want to have a drink, but I want it to be as clean as possible. So, I approached my friends Mark and Zach with my idea of creating a great wine that is approachable and drinkable while also being as clean as possible. Zach had been in the spirits business and had a background in chemistry, and Mark is the hardest worker I know, so I knew we might be able to get this going.”
The result? “While we are still a tiny little company, we are having a lot of fun and thankfully people seem to love FitVine,” says Tom.
Sharing a similar ethos, I was excited to try FitVine’s three varietals and their cleaner, healthier qualities—with local Newport ties, no less.
THE VERDICT As a writer for the New England Wine Gazette and Edible Rhody (among other regional and national pubs), I truly enjoyed the trio of FitVine wines I savored. For me, a favorite wine depends much on other contributing factors: season, environment, setting, time of day, weather, company, etc. First up was the Sauvignon Blanc, which I very much enjoyed. Light and dry with hint of citrus—but stopping short of sweet, it’s a savory wine that I’ll long associate with a perfect late summer day. I would absolutely buy this wine in the store.
I enjoyed the Chardonnay (it’s considered the world’s most popular white wine) at a get-together before traveling abroad. As I prefer drier whites, this wine is palate pleasing with it’s crisp finish. The slight citrus hints are well balanced with a trace of vanilla, and while I typically appreciate the oak notes garnered during the finishing process, FitVine’s Chardonnay is finished in stainless steel which perhaps let the citrus notes, like pear, shine brighter.
I saved the Cabernet Sauvignon for last. The producer says this classic Cabernet possesses a “nose of currant, lavender, black licorice and a hint of new oak” with a flavorful blend of cedar, boysenberry, coffee and chocolate. Whatever the ingredients, FitVine’s Cabernet Sauvignon has earned a prominent spot in my autumn and winter wine line up.
I’ve had the good fortune of covering a number of extraordinary wine events over the past 15 years, many with top wine producers. I’ll never forget what one of the most lauded winemakers once told me: “Do you know what the best wine in the world is?” he asked me. “Lafite?” I guessed. “Wrong. It’s the one you enjoy the most.”
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I received complimentary FitVine samples for purposes of this review. Opinions expressed are my own.
Interview cont’d from ( Pt.I post below)
Tell us what you love about Newport…
I love everything there is about Newport…from the excitement of driving in via the beach route to Cliff Walk…the smell of the ocean in the air and the ever-so-much-fun dining. I cannot forget the sailing… Boating is a huge sport in my family, so we spend lots of time both on and off the water. We often drive in to Newport from Marion (Mass.) just for family time…a summer dinner in Newport is the best. But what I especially love are the people in Newport. They are truly devoted to their community and supporting causes dear to them.
Sara Campbell has a loyal following here in Newport, and for obvious reasons: a wonderfully engaged staff, beautiful and flattering made-in-the-USA piece, but what do you think makes that relationship so special?
Our customers are family…they are loyal, and stay in touch when the season closes. I love meeting people from all over the country, but I also love getting to know the locals who take care of this little jewel.
And your take on Newport in the quieter months?
It’s a very special place even in the dead of winter because the sea is still roaring, and the waves are still lapping.
New arrivals at Sara Campbell:
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Sara Campbell, the Boston-based women’s fashion designer whose eponymous brand and boutiques can be found here in Newport as well as throughout Massachusetts, in Florida, Virginia (Richmond and my ‘ol stomping grounds, Old Town, Alexandria), Michigan and Illinois. Designing seasonal collections that are made right here in the USA (See? It can be done and done exceptionally well), Campbell is a visionary. From her earliest years, launching a small textile/apparel business in 1983 after graduating from Lesley College in Cambridge, Mass. and Massachusetts College of Art, to christening nearly 20 boutiques as of this year, admirers of Campbell’s classic meets contemporary designs easily become longtime loyalists. How does it all happen? Here’s and inside look:
Newport Stylephile (NS): Who is the “Sara Campbell woman?” I very much have the Sara Campbell woman in mind when designing, as I have a responsibility to her. She is a classic, (yet not conservative!) woman who has a spirit for life. She is active both politically and socially. She cares about her community, therefore has reasons to dress. She cares about her health and well being, and makes time to do so. She loves a good party and she has a sense of humor! Most importantly, she loves a feminine detail, without being too sweet or cute. She is not afraid to take a chance on moving her style up a notch, but [she has] the ability to make a statement in her own voice. My pieces need to be easy to wear and should evoke simplicity. Every piece is an inspiration from the past, taking the wisdom from yesterday and applying it today’s needs. Dressing this lady is a privilege and an honor. It’s my job to empower her to feel pretty, strong and determined; that she can do anything she sets out to do. I would like to say she very much reminds me of my mother: tenacious!
NS: How would you describe Newport style and how does Sara Campbell complement that look? I was born and raised in La Jolla, California, overlooking the ocean. The beach was our playground, so Newport style is a natural for me. I live in Boston so that I can be close to the water; I need to be near the water. After all, I am a Cancer! Newport style is all about easy living and being by and on the sea. It’s clean, nautical, sassy, classic. There is so much history in Newport from the days of Jackie Kennedy to the traditions of so many events like the Newport Flower Show. It’s natural…but it is also extremely sophisticated.
PT. II Coming soon…til then, enjoy the summer sale at Sara Campbell Newport, which is offering 40% off the lowest ticketed price. My summer favorite?
And then there’s:
I admit; I didn’t know too much about J. McLaughlin when it opened its doors here on Newport’s tony Bellevue Avenue in 2010 (read the original JMcL post HERE!). Brothers Kevin and Jay McLaughlin christened their first shop in 1977—a time
when Ted Turner’s 12-meter Courageous swept the America’s Cup defender trials off Newport’s shores and Jaws had folks worldwide second guessing a salt-water dip.
Today, there are more than 100 stores nationwide (plus a thriving e-commerce business). J. McLaughlin celebrates their continued success as über-classic American clothiers and one of the country’s last great first-name-basis retailers. Now is the best time to snatch up extraordinary classics that will last for years to come with styles up to 70% off including dresses, tops, skirts, capris, pants, outerwear, sweaters, cardigans and accessories like scarves, belts, bags – plus knits, polos, shirts, ties, shorts and pants for men. Check out J. McLaughlin’s fabulously names “Newport capri” which I recently featured on The Rhode Show (click here to watch).
THIS Saturday, J. McLaughlin welcomes shoe company Margaux and their made-to-measure ballerina flats from 10am to 6pm. If you haven’t heard, Margaux was launched just a year ago by two graduating seniors when they heard Sheryl Sandberg deliver their Harvard commencement speech. The classic kicks are made from Italian leather in standard sizes or completely bespoke.
J.McLaughlin is located at 180 Bellevue Avenue in Newport.
Nautical style and Newport go hand in hand, so when I was first introduced to Sailormade, a nautical accessory line inspired by life in, on, and around the water, I knew it would be a perfect fit in the City by the Sea. Originally launched in 2011, Sailormade is now headquartered in Boston and the entire line of leather and nautical rope bracelets and leather belts for men and women are made in the USA. As the founders say:
“The essence of Sailormade is our collective connection to the water… Whether you’re into SUP, kite boarding, sailing, kayaking, swimming or just sitting on the beach staring out at the sea, you know water is part of your DNA. It’s the place that takes you exactly as you are but always leaves you somehow changed…for the better.”
The Brummel Hook clasp is the cornerstone of all Sailormade bracelet designs. Also known as the Inglefield Clip and the Sister Hook, the design dates back to the early 1890s and has been traditionally used to secure lines, sheets and signal flag halyards so that the flag can be hoisted. Sailormade’s Brummel Hook clasps come in solid brass, dark or powder Rhodium, rose gold, or stainless silver finish.
Sailormade’s leather bracelets are each carefully hand-braided while the nylon bracelets can withstand the harshest elements. I’ve been asked repeatedly about The Endeavor single twisted marine rope bracelet with the brass Brummel Hook I’ve been sporting this summer,
which is available at Style Newport on Thames Street.
Another new wardrobe staple of mine: the Sailormade Cargo belt (at left). Made with supple vegetable-dyed saddle leather and finished with a solid brass custom natural brass snap hook, the belt is undeniably nautical (by nature) with its No.2 snap hook.
The Coral Collection also merges rope detailing and cuff designs, rings and necklaces.
Check out the entire line here: sailormadeusa.com
See an purchase select Sailormade pieces at Style Newport located at 306 Thames Street in Newport and the whole collection at sailormadeusa.com. (Enter your email and receive and email for 15% off!)
That thing, when you find something kinda super sweet…
It’s summer, which means it’s the best time to sink your teeth into the spoils of the season—newportFILM docs under the stars, NIMFest Music in King Park on Sundays, jaunts to Block Island, Saturdays spent swimming in the waves and of course, sunset sails. It’s the perfect time for savoring a Sauvignon Blanc, packing a portable Provence Rosé, or having a premium Pinot Grigio at the ready—sans a bulky glass bottle or being caught without a corkscrew. Enter my newest discovery: Lila Wines, the first-of-its-kind collection of premium wine packaged in cans (for on-the-go convenience, obvi).
Offering the above trio of varietals (in punchy pop art-inspired cans), Lila Wines are naturally gluten free, low in calories and carbs, and contain no added sugar, and the 4-pack contains 33% more wine than a 750mL bottle—so financially speaking, Lila cans are both more fit and more fiscally responsible;) They’re about the same size as a can of Red Bull, so tossing one in your tote for a day cruising Narragansett Bay or BYOB dining in town is a snap.
Right now, the closest towns to Newport you’ll find Lila Wines is Seekonk and South Attleboro (they just made their debut in stores this summer and are making their way throughout New England). http://www.lilawines.com/locator
Whether you are a local or you descend on Newport for the quintessential New England summer getaway, there may be no better place to sip aperitifs than on the lively lawn at Castle Hill. Pony up the the nautical-themed bar which resembles a seaworthy vessel, perch yourself on the patio or get a front row seat to stunning Narragansett Bay from the comfort of their Adirondack chairs.
Here are some lovely libations CH is serving up this heavenly season — with the recipes so you can bring he taste of Newport home!
More Champagne, Peas (above)
Ingredients: Pea & Mint Vodka 2 oz. / Michelle Brut 1 oz. / Pea Tendril or Flower / Garnish Tag
Method of Preparation: Chill martini glass / In a Boston shaker filled with ice, add 2 oz Pea Vodka / Shake vigorously, strain into martini glass, then fill with Michelle brut /Garnish with pea tendrils, pea flowers, or other edible flowers (temp lemon & mint leaf)
Bloody Shrimp Cocktail (above)
Ingredients: Tomato Vodka 1.5 oz. / Sambal-cilantro puree ½ oz. / Clamato juice 1 oz. / 1 Poached Shrimp / Lemon ½ Wheel / Garnish Tag
Method of Preparation: Chill martini glass / In a boston shaker filled with ice, combine vodka, puree, clamato, lemon juice / Shake vigorously, strain into martini glass/ Garnish with a lemon ½ wheel and shrimp on rim of glass
Bermuda Rum Swizzle (above)
Ingredients: Gosling’s Black 1 oz./ Gosling’s Gold 1 oz. / Pineapple Juice 2 oz. / Orange Juice 2 oz. / Bitters Dash / Falernum Dash
Method of Preparation: Fill Collins glass with ice / Add all ingredients, stir briefly
Blueberry Lemonade (above)
Ingredients: Stoli Blueberry 1.5 oz. / Blueberry Puree 1 oz. / Lemonade To Fill / Lemon wedge / Garnish Tag
Method of Preparation: Ice a collins glass / Pour in blueberry puree & vodka / Top with lemonade, stir lightly
Other fine choices: