New York is the second largest producer of wine in the USA, right after California. Thanks to the influence of Dr. Konstantin Frank, Riesling has soared in popularity and quality. The dessert wines of Niagra are some of the country’s finest expressions of Riesling. The area known as The Finger Lakes boasts the highest quality wine coming from New York, but there are also some top quality sparkling wines coming off of Long Island’s North Fork. New York is also home to the oldest and longest running winery still in operation in the country, called Brotherhood Winery.
Virginia, scarcely found on the wine labels occupying shelf space in your local wine shop, was the first state in the nation to commercially produce wine. In fact a Virginia law was passed in Jamestown (first successful English settlement in North America) in 1619 that mandated every male colonist was to plant and tend at least ten grape vines. This experimental law failed after the imported European grape vines continually died from North American vine diseases. Virginia now produces the least wine of all US states.
Here in Rhode Island and neighboring Connecticut, we have my favorite East Coast wines. The Ocean House is fortunate to be located just minutes away from some of Connecticut and Rhode Island’s amazing vineyards. There are over half a dozen wineries in Rhode Island and the Connecticut wine trail is comprised of thirty wineries. These wineries grow all types of grape varieties from the well known Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Merlot to the unusual Vidal, Cayuga and St. Croix. Generally speaking, the style of the area is light with soft fruit aromas/flavors, high acidity and a medium finish. However, many different styles can be found.
The wines from East Coast wineries are all great food wines and, like most important growing regions, pair perfectly with the local cuisine. Since we are right on the ocean, there is no shortage of wines that pair well with seafood and shellfish.
Here at the Ocean House we work closely with many of our local Rhode Island vineyards including Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards, Saltwater Farm Vineyards and Jonathan Edwards winery:
Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards is in Little Compton, Rhode Island on the Massachusetts border. The winery was founded in 1975 and, at present, has fifty acres planted with many Vinifera varietals including Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc as well as one of the French-American hybrids, Vidal Blanc. Wine production has climbed to over 30,000 cases annually with many wines receiving awards in domestic and international competitions. Sakonnet Vineyards was recently purchased by the owners of famed jewelry line, Alex & Ani, and has since made major adjustments to become more organic.
Saltwater Farm Vineyard is located just outside the Borough of Stonington on the site of a WWII-era private airport. The Vineyard was established in 2001 on 100 acres – 15 of which are planted with six varieties of grapes. The tasting room is located in the vineyard’s refurbished airplane hangar. Saltwater farm is known for its all Estate grown Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.
Jonathan Edwards Winery is located in Stonington and found its home on 48 acres of land in a refurbished dairy barn. Jonathan Edwards locally grows varietals such as Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Cabernet Franc.
To learn more about these wines and taste some of my favorite wines hailing from the East Coast wineries, join me on March 18th and 19th for From Vine to Wine: Wines of the East Coast!