I’ve been writing about New England vineyards for various magazines for nearly 10 years, so when Sakonnet Vineyards in Little Compton went on the market a few years ago, I (along with many others, I’m sure) was hopeful that the stunning 170-acre property would remain a vineyard. When news broke in May that Carolyn Rafaelian, president of Rhode Island’s own Alex & Ani, had bought the property, there was a collective sigh of relief. If her purchase and admirable restoration of Newport’s Belcourt is any indication, rest assured the vineyard is in good hands (with dozens of expanding bangles of course).
I recently had the pleasure of experiencing the new Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards where there’s a palpable excitement in the air. Though there have been a few changes to the property already, including the addition of a sizable event tent that offers views of grapevines, pastures and the peaceful Sakonnet River, there are also big plans to improve the property with a re-purposed space for meetings/gatherings, an expanded cafe and more events, like the 2013 Little Compton Antiques Festival (Aug. 3).
Already wine production has climbed to over 30,000 cases annually and longtime winemaker Elaine Bernier continues to oversee the production of the vineyard’s Vinifera varietals including Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc as well as Vidal Blanc, a French-American hybrid and my personal favorite made by the winery.
The cafe is being run by Russell Morin Fine Catering, and I have to say when I had lunch there, it was outstanding. A cool breeze coming off the Sakonnet River, grapevines as far as the eye can see, and a wine flight that offered up all the differing varietals combined for a feast for the senses.
One fabulous way to experience the vineyard is by gathering up some good friends and heading to their Summer Concert Series, held on most Thursday nights (CLICK HERE for a schedule).
Here’s an inside look at it all…Cheers!