Our next stop on The Coastal Wine Trail is Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard in Little Compton, Rhode Island.
“It all depends on the weather. I don’t try to manipulate the wines. I work with what nature gives me,” explained Elaine Phipps, Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard’s Winemaker. Raised on a hog and dairy farm, Elaine had farming in her blood. She first came to Sakonnet Vineyards in 1984 and worked in the fields. A little over 10 years later she moved up to Assistant Winemaker where she learned the art under Dr. Christian Butzke and John Sotelo.
In 2005 Elaine stepped into the role of Winemaker, bringing with her over 30 years of hands-on experience. Elaine and her team produce between 10,000 to 15,000 cases of award winning wines from the Little Compton, Rhode Island Vineyard.
Banners of Asian-inspired spiritual symbols hung from the walls that surrounded the bar. Each brightly colored banner depicted the label of a different wine made at Sakonnet Vineyard. Surrounded by this vibrant tapestry Elaine discussed the art of blending wines while we enjoyed an exclusive tasting of her lasted vintage NV Rhode Island Red. This silky crimson colored wine boast fruit forward flavors and is a blend of Chancellor, Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.
The Wines at Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard
Our official tasting flight had started with a favorite among their customers and judges. Sakonnet’s 2013 Expedite Happiness consists of 100% Chardonnay and bursts with flavors of green apple and citrus. The un-oaked light-bodied white won Gold in both the 2015 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition and in 2015 Winemaker Challenge International Wine Competition. Another favorite was the 2013 White Lotus which took home Best in Class and Gold in the 2016 International Women’s Wine Competition.
The Vidal Blanc grapes are harvested late for their NV Amrita, giving this medium-bodied dessert wine sweet flavors of honeysuckle and peaches. The name comes from Hindu Mythology where amrita is the nectar of the gods and the drink of immortality. To finish out our tasting we sampled their Winter Wine. The Vidal Blanc grapes are picked and crushed while frozen, giving this full-bodied ice wine notes of honey, peaches, and butterscotch.
We thanked Elaine for sharing her story and her love of viticulture with us. As we stepped out the doors of the grayed clapboard sided winery, the evening sun had cast a warm orange glow over the 45 acres of grapevines. The weathered rough cut cedar chairs huddled around braziers and fire pits begged us stay awhile longer. The sun sank behind the trees beyond the driver side window as began out 45 minute drive back to Newport.
The Café and Tasting Room
The Local Mercantile Vineyard Café sources local ingredients. The menu changes with the seasons. Check their online menu for a current list of offerings. The Café serves lunch Thursday through Monday from 12PM to 4PM (Closed Tuesday & Wednesday).
You are welcome at The Tasting Room at Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard 11AM to 5PM daily.
Follow the complete Coastal Wine Trail series at The Rooted Gypsy on Miles Geek.