I don’t know about you but when I think about wine country I think of France or Germany or domestically, California. I know a lot of other places are getting into the wine making business. I’ve enjoyed wine from Australia and South America but I just didn’t think of New England for wine.
Maybe I should just say that I didn’t think because we had grape vines that were always covered with big purple grapes each summer where I grew up in the Adirondacks and my neighbor made his own wine from them. When I visited Peace Field House in Quincy there was a grape arbor so the signs that grapes grow here are all around me. Of course I have no idea if these grapes make good wine.
I enjoy a glass of wine occasionally with meals or with cheese and crackers. When I vacation with my sister that is one of our rituals, kicking back with a glass of wine after a long day of sight-seeing but I would never pretend to be an expert. I read descriptions about a note of this, a hint of that. Fruity vs dry, and I don’t know what it means. I just know what I like. The wine must be light (if white) and smooth and not too sweet. If a red it can be heavier but again, not too sweet.
So imagine my surprise when my friend Jay told me about the Wine Country in my backyard…literally!
I headed for the internet and there was the Wine Trail which winds through southern New England from the tip of Cape Cod through southern Rhode Island to Connecticut. 9 Vineyards make up the stops on the Wine Trail promoting Coastal wines of New England. Like the Passport program for the National Parks, these Vineyards promote the Coastal Wines of New England with a Passport Program of their own. For more information head to www.CoastalWineTrail.com
The common thread that ties these 9 Vineyards is the Atlantic ocean. With the southeast facing coastline, warm gulf stream in summer and fall, a cool grape growing climate results in a section of fine wines, mostly of the white and sparkling variety with a few reds sprinkled in.
Since I was heading to Dartmouth anyway I thought I’d try to see one of the wineries. I’m not sure what I expected. I’ve never been to a wine tasting nor have I ever set foot in a winery. When we were in Sedona we thought about a wine tour but there were so many other things to do that we never got to that. I guess I imagined driving through the vineyard with rows of grapes rolling by until I reached the winery. With that vision in mind I headed off to find one of the Dartmouth wineries.
There are 2 located in the Dartmouth area, Sakonnet Vineyards and Running Brook Vineyards. The Web page for Sakonnet said they were open Friday, Saturday and Sunday so that eliminated them. Running Brook gave their hours as daily Noon- 5pm. so that’s where I headed.
Running Brook Vineyards is located at 335 Old Fall River Road, North Dartmouth. Their web page is www.runningbrookwine.com.
I left The Buttonwood Park Zoo and headed off to find Old Fall River Road. It took me all of 10 minutes to get to Running Brook from the zoo! That was a little mind-boggling …from Urban Zoo to rural Winery in 10 minutes. The Winery is clearly marked with an attractive sign.
I took a right through the open gate onto a dirt track and drove slowly up to a large building.
There was a tent set up outside with tables.
I didn’t see any grape vines. The “road” continued on around the building but I thought it might be better to stop here first. A car had just driven off around the building and another man in work clothes was just getting into a truck. I stuck my head out of the car window and asked if I was in the right place for Running Brook.
The gentleman got back out of his truck and asked me if I’d seen the sign at the gate. I said yes. His response was , “Well you’re here.”
I pulled into a spot next to the tent and got out of the car. My host wasn’t the most talkative so I tried to think of questions to ask. Since I had nothing to compare this experience with I’m sure he thought I was asking really stupid questions. I think he took pity on me because after a few minutes of my babbling he asked me if I wanted a tasting. It was afternoon so , why not? I said yes.
He told me to follow him and we went into the big building. A rough wooden counter separated customers from the rows of big, wooden barrels. Almost immediately I noticed the aroma. It smells sooo good! Getting my nose back inline I noticed labels on the barrels indicating the type of wines apparently aging or fermenting or whatever wines do in each of the big casks.
As I was looking around my host was setting out a row of wine bottles , a package of oyster crackers, a wine glass and a ceramic pitcher.
I confessed that I didn’t know what to do. Was I supposed to hold it in my mouth and then spit it out or could I drink it. That finally got a smile. He explained that it was personal preference but that he’d suggest drinking it. Now I was laughing and beginning to relax. I told him as long as I could walk out after the tasting then drink it I would. I was looking at the line of bottles he’s set out and wondered if I would be walking by the end of this experiment! 🙂
We started with the whites. The bouquet was wonderful. The wines varied from mellow and smooth to one that made me say ” it was having a party in my mouth. ” It wasn’t a sparkling wine yet it made my tongue tingle like a sparkling wine. I even tried a white Merlot. I’m not a fan of white Merlot and this was no exception but that’s just me. If you like white Merlot you would probably like this wine.
I tried the red Merlot and that was pretty good. We finished the tasting with a sweet dessert wine that was a little too sweet for my taste but that I am sure would hit the spot if you like that kind of wine.
I bought a bottle of the Pinot Gris to take home with me, picked up my passport brochure and collected my stamp.
The tasting was well worth the $7.00. The wines ranged in price starting at around $15.00.
Running Brook Wines are not available in stores. You need to stop by the winery to pick them up. You can also buy them by the case. I never got to see the Vineyard but my host pointed out a lovely picture in the brochure of green grapes, not purple, on the vines. He said those were the Running Brook grapes.
There was a sign at the entrance that said wine tours and events on Sundays 1 pm but the winery itself is open 1-5 daily so stop in, have a tasting, buy a bottle ( or 2) and spread the word!
Now I’ve only 8 more Vineyards to visit to complete the Coastal Wine Trail!