Wining about Newport

Snowstorm 2017 had just hit, Getting out of the house was appealing, but it was much cozier in my apartment with heat and good coffee. I’ve been on the job hunt since October and the stress of it was bringing me down. My friend Kate came to the rescue. “Let’s go taste some wine down in Newport. My treat!” She even offered to drive…wine beckoned and she has heated seats. How could I refuse.

I hurriedly shoveled my way down my driveway and parked at her house. We took scenic route 114 to get to Newport. Our destination was Newport Vineyards.

This fabulous family-run business has been on Aquidneck Island making award winning wines for 20plus years. They’ve renovated over the years. Now in addition to winemaking on site, the vineyard outside, the tasting room; the facility also has a cafe, restaurant and a weekly Farmer’s Market. We purchased our tickets; 

looked around the shop a bit. Strolled thru the farmer’s market and stared in awe at all of the tanks. 

We made our way over to the Tasting room where we both picked 6 different wines to try. 

Not an easy decision; so much to choose from! The tasting “room” is actually in an open space which I love. Visitors and shoppers were milling about while a musician played mellow tunes in the background. It wasn’t super warm, but we were bundled up and Kate had just purchased a super warm wool hat from Moonlight Rose Alpaca Farm, who are at the farmer’s market every Saturday. (The Aquidneck Grower’s Market will be inside the winery until May 14th. After that it heads outside)

Glasses in hand, we were ready to taste! 

We really enjoyed most of the wines we tried. Starting off on the right foot was a barrel-fermented, Burgundian-style Chardonnay. 

The Pinot Gris, a light, dry white, was back after an absence of some years. I loved it. It’s bright aroma and taste reminded me of a hot summer’s day sitting poolside. 

By the time we made it to the Red’s; we had a new wine server, Brandon, who was not only knowledgeable about wine and the vineyard; but he’s a musician as well so we had loads in common. 

From the reds we tried the Gemini Red, the Cabernet Franc and the hands down winner of the tasting; their fabulous Landot Noir; a dark, fragrant, oak aged red. Perfect for sipping by the fire while nibbling on some chocolate or your partner’s ear.

We worked up quite an appetite trying those wines, so we headed over to the vineyard cafe where farm fresh, in-season inspired nibbles can be had. We had a glass of the Landot and paired it with a juicy burger and a gooey grilled cheese. 

Feeling sated but not ready to go home, we decided to head into Newport. I love Newport in the off season. Tourists are gone, the locals head to their favorite haunts, it is still so pretty on the water and there is plenty of free parking. We made a beeline to Banister’s Wharf. Located in the heart of Newport’s bustling waterfront, the wharf is home to a bevy of beautiful shops and restaurants beckoning us with their wares and tasty treats. 

Our first stop was an adorable shop I had been wanting to visit for a while now. 

Kristen Coates Art and Home, an adorable shop filled with lovely things you “need” for your home, like candles, soaps, terrariums with healing crystals nestling inside and art work just waiting to be hung on your walls in the perfect spot. Honestly, I wanted everything in the shop ( I better find a job soon!), maybe it was the Prosecco talking. 
This striking mermaid, a Kristen Coates original painting,  beckoned me with her gorgeous red lips and striking color. 

The ladies were talking up “Galentine’s Day” not the least bit disappointed no beau was in site. 

We talked with the owner Kristen, told her how much we loved the shop and promised to return, pronto. 

We worked our way down the wharf and knew we had to stop in to experience a Newport classic: 

the Clarke Cooke House. Always super busy in the summertime, there were plenty of seats on this snowy Saturday afternoon, just not near the warm and toasty fireplace. Maybe next time we’ll luck out. 
The ever dapper host, William, showed us to some prime seats at the bar. 

I ordered an old fashioned from our terrific bartender David and then proceeded to wander just a bit ( had to take pics!). This a multi-level restaurant with so many nooks and crannies. It’s filled to the brim with sailing memorabilia.

I was hoping to meet a suitable sailor, but alas, he is probably steering his yacht off the shores of somewhere tropical right now. I settled for local Rhode Island oysters and a great view. 

While local to our very small state, each Oyster, (MatunuckMoonstone and Plum Point), grown in shallow salt ponds nestled along our coastline, varies in size and flavor. All 3 were scrumptious. Couldn’t name a favorite. 

The place was filling up and we honestly could have stayed and maybe even danced our tails off downstairs in the Boom-Boom room; but we decided to head back out into the coastal tundra and walk back to the car. 

As we walked up the hill I realized we were about to pass “America’s Oldest Tavern” The White Horse Tavern

I’ve always wanted to go in, the tavern is known for its fantastic food. Not only that, but the Chef and I are big Instagram foodie fans of each other.( I’ve made many friends on Instagram that I have yet to meet “IRL” ) and his new Sous Chef and I know each other from my Farm Fresh Rhode Island days. Also, I have considered it a bit of a “special occasion” restaurant and was waiting for someone special to take me. That’s ridiculous isn’t it?! “We’re going in” says Kate. “Let’s see if they have a bar and we can have a drink and you can say a quick hello.” “Ok, sure!” I’m so glad we did. The cozy bar could not have been more inviting. Just look at the roaring fire! 

There were 2 seats waiting for us at the bar, so Kate ordered a glass of wine and I ordered a White Horse Tavern ale. 

I asked the host to please send a hello from me to the Chefs. The next thing I know, I’m invited in to the kitchen! On a Saturday night no less. The beauty of visiting in Winter. What a treat to see the staff in action and finally getting to meet Chef Richard Silvia in person. I’ve long admired the dishes he’s been creating/serving. Totally drool worthy. 

It was fun to see the kitchen in action. I started out in the restaurant business, not in the front of the house waitressing, but cooking in the kitchen. Saturday’s can get so crazy busy, but I loved it. It can go super smooth if you have all of your food prepped and ready, 

and a great team working together. 

I needed to let everyone get back to work and I needed to get back to Kate who was being so patient. While we were sipping our drinks and chatting with fellow customers, the bartender delivered a scrumptious looking Charcuterie Board for us! 

It featured an array of New England cheeses, sweet chutneys, sardines, mustards and more. Just look at this divine Pork Terrine with Foie Gras and Figs! 

Heavenly honeycomb, 

House cured salami, 

But wait, there’s more! Brussels Sprouts roasted and drizzled with a tahini dressing and topped with some grated cured egg yolk(!). Kate and I just stared in silence savoring every bite.  It was so good. 

What a treat! Before we left I popped my head in to say thank you and goodbye. 

What a wonderful experience we had. Thanks so much for the great hospitality. I’ll be back sooner rather than later. They are open for lunch, so I may just come back with my Mom! No need to wait for a significant other or a special reason. Being with, and seeing friends like this are reason enough.

Kate and I had a terrific time in Newport. So much of it was spontaneous and unplanned. The best kind of day.  I hope you too take the time to get out of the house and your comfort zone and get out and explore wonderful areas around you. You won’t be sorry on your snowy day.

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