Newport Vineyards was originally planted in 1977 on a hill
overlooking Rhode Island Sound with the goal of producing
fine wines and as a way of preserving beautiful agricultural
land from rapid development. Aquidneck Island is blessed
with one of the most desirable farming areas in the country,
if not the world. This extraordinary micro-climate is
created by a combination of the warm waters of the Gulf
Stream to the south and the moderating effects of
Narragansett Bay. These conditions provide a long, cool
growing season ideal for developing complex flavors in wine.
Since the original vineyard plantings in the 1970s, Newport
Vineyards, under the ownership of John and Paul Nunes, has
grown to 60 vineyard acres. Below is timeline of significant
events in the history of Newport Vineyards.
1917 NUNES FARM PURCHASED
Francisco Nunes, the great grandfather of John and Paul Nunes,
acquires the 51 acre Bailey Farm on Wyatt Road. Known today as
the Nunes Farm, this stone wall lined property is protected from
development and planted to 30 acres of vineyard. The farm dates
back to 1701 and is listed on the National Historic
1977 FIRST GRAPES PLANTED
Retired Captain Richard Alexander plants wine grapes on the
Hopelands Estate overlooking Rhode Island Sound. After
experimenting with several varietals, he plants 10 acres of
French-American wine grapes with the help of family, friends and
neighbors, including John and Paul’s cousin Peter Nunes.
1988 WINERY BUILT
Partnership between Captain Alexander and the Nunes Family
starts with the establishment of a modern winery on Route 138
just north of Newport, Rhode Island. Originally founded as
Vinland Wine Cellars, the winery produced its first vintage in
this year. George Chelf, the winemaker still with Newport
Vineyards today, is hired and presses his first grapes.
1995 ESTABLISHMENT OF NEWPORT VINEYARDS
John and Paul Nunes acquire the winery from retiring Captain
Alexander and establish the Newport Vineyards brand.
1998 PERRY FARM ACQUISITION
Newport Vineyards acquires the Perry Farm next to the winery on
Route 138 through a partnership between the Aquidneck Land Trust
and The State of Rhode Island Division of Agriculture. This farm
was targeted for 80 house lots and today is protected from
development and planted with 9 varieties of vinifera wine
1998 FIRST GOLD MEDAL
“Great White” wins its first gold medal at the Eastern
International Wine Competition and becomes Newport Vineyard’s
best selling wine.
1999 ICE WINE VOTED IN TOP 50 US WINES
Newport Vineyards Vidal Ice Wine is voted one of the top 50
wines in the United States at the Jefferson Invitational.
2000 INGENUITY AWARD
Newport Vineyards is presented with the Rhode Island Historical
Society Ingenuity and Enterprise Award for its vineyard
practices, Port wine and Ice Wine.
2002 NUNES FARM PRESERVATION
John and Paul Nunes acquire the Nunes Farm from the Estate of
Susan Nunes, daughter in-law of the late Francisco Nunes. The
property is placed into perpetual preservation through a
partnership between the Nunes Family, the Aquidneck Land Trust
and the State of Rhode Island. The property is planted as a
vineyard with 8 varieties of wine grapes.
Riesling Wins Best of Show
Newport Vineyards Riesling wins best of show out of 458 wine
entries at the Jefferson Cup Atlantic Seaboard Wine
2008 and beyond
Newport Vineyards is the largest grower of wine grapes in New
England and is recognized as a landmark attraction in Newport
County and continues the tradition of growing quality wines on
Peter Nunes Planting
George Chelf - First Vintage, 1988
Newport Vineyards Logo
Perry Farm Planting
RI Historical Society