Great wine is made in the vineyard.
Paul Nunes, co-owner and vineyard manager, believes that the best wines come from a combination of quality soil, a favorable climate, and meticulously managed vines. His approach to viticulture involves constant monitoring of plant and soil health in order to allow the vines to grow and produce as naturally as possible, without an excess of fertilizers and pesticides. Physical management of the vineyard canopy is done in a way that maximizes airflow through the leaves, which in turn minimizes fungal disease pressure.
Leaves are removed which shade the fruit clusters in late summer, allowing direct sunlight onto the grapes and optimal ripeness. Grapes are harvested throughout October and early November, after constant evaluation by Paul and the winemaker, George Chelf. Winter months are spent pruning the vines and constructing a solid trellis system for the upcoming season.
Generations of farmers and native Indians have known that Aquidneck Island is blessed with one of the most desirable farming areas in the country. 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 the many complex flavors of our wines.
Newport Vineyards’ 50 acres of premiere vines are centrally situated on Aquidneck Island, approximately 2 miles from the ocean. Our vineyards are close enough to the water for protection against October frosts, yet far enough away to avoid the fog and benefit from the thermal heat off the land. The elevation is about 175 feet, one of the highest sites on the island. We are also blessed with a constant breeze, which keeps the vines dry and protected from fungal diseases and heavy frost. The site has some of the richest soil on the east coast: a deep, silty loam which drains moderately well, yet retains enough moisture to resist the need for irrigation during the summer months. Our new Nunes Farm site is a fourth generation family farm which has drain tiles down every row of grapes which rid the field of excess water and encourage deep root penetration, resulting in more full-bodied, complex wines.
All of Newport Vineyards’ grape varieties were carefully chosen to match our unique microclimate and soil profiles. Specific clones of each variety were chosen which have a proven track record for top quality wine and consistent production. Our vines are grafted onto rootstocks which marry that particular grape’s characteristics with the soil type in which it is planted. Many rootstocks are available now which can affect vigor, water tolerance, disease tolerance, or speed of ripening. All of these factors must be considered before vines are planted in the ground.