Newport Vineyards, Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards Dessert Wines for Fall



How sweet.

That we live where we live. So much is happening this weekend with the return of two major events: the Newport International Boat Show and the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival. Hope you can buy a boat at the show, then go to the Festival and celebrate with champagne!

Laura Damon wrote an article last weekend in The Newport Daily News about apple picking in Newport County and the farms available to do so. Obviously a great family event. Apples are not the only fruits that can be picked as she mentioned pears and quinces. So his article feeds into mine a bit and that’s what most people do with these fruits other than eating them from trees? Clearly, for apples, it’s easy pies, pies, crisps. Pears, roughly the same way as apples. There are also peaches available locally, and peach cobblers come to mind. But these are all sweet desserts and what wines do we pair with these sweet confections? The rule of thumb for wines with dessert is that the wine should be sweeter than the dessert. Unlike the rules for white wine with fish and red wine with meat, the dessert rule is a bit harder to break. I’m always amazed at how well the general public thinks cabernet sauvignon and chocolate cake go together, ugh.

There are mainly five styles of dessert wines: sparkling, light and sweet, rich and sweet, sweet red and fortified. I want to focus on the light and the sweet, the rich and the sweet. On the way back from apple picking from Little Compton, stop at Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards. They produce several types of dessert wines. The first is their NV Amrita which is a late harvest, light and smooth Vidal Blanc with medium body, aromas of peach, apricot and honeysuckle, perfect with pies and as an aside, excellent with blue cheese. Costs around $ 30.00 in a 750ml size. The white vidal is a hybrid grape variety that adapts well to our climate, can withstand our cold winters. They also make a winter wine in which the grapes are frozen and then crushed during freezing releasing the golden nectar and leaving the frozen water behind. It gives off aromas of white peach, apricot and butterscotch. It’s a richer, smoother wine that pairs perfectly with baked apples, fruit pies and crème brûlée. It will cost around $ 27 and also in a 750 size. These wines are creamy in the middle of the palate, which means they have weight and are creamier and are inexpensively priced.

Now, if you choose to pick fruit at Sweet Berry Farm, located next to some of the vineyards planted by Newport Vineyards, then stop by the winery. They have several dessert wines, but for this writing I’ll be focusing on their Vidal Icewine. It has aromas of light honey, lychee and lime. This is another example of a perfect wine to taste with our local apples used for baking desserts. It will work again with fruit pies and as a bonus, foie gras – which will be banned in IR soon, so buy it while you can if you are a fan of this food. This wine is available in a 375 ml bottle for $ 39.00. I want to say that Sakonnet and Newport Vineyards produce Port wines, but for further discussion.

As for apples, Newport Vineyards makes a cider, Rhody Coyote using Rhode Island apples. It’s a hard, dry cider so not for desserts, but just wanted to mention it. It comes in a 750ml wine bottle for around $ 13.00 and is delicious!

A bottle of Rhody Coyote from Newport Vineyards.

Note the Newport Vineyards logo and the illustration on the ice wine bottle. Both were performed by a local calligrapher, a transplant recipient named Raphael Boguslav, who tragically died years ago in an accident. John Nunes, co-owner of the vineyard, described working with him to develop the logo and bottle design as a real journey, he was not only extremely talented but had a great sense of humor. I got to know him as well as he frequented The Mooring before his untimely death in 2010. His logo designs are dotted all over Newport County. The Newport Vineyard logo signifies where the grapes meet the sea fitting !!

There are lots and lots of dessert wines available and as we move into the holiday season we all overeat and end up with desserts. To make these sweet desserts even more enjoyable and properly paired with wine, consider these.

Now for this month’s PSA. As you all know, the hospitality industry continues to be severely affected by the severe labor shortage. This weekend is usually a very busy weekend in the city, with not only the boat show, but also the wine festival and normal vacationers. The delta variant seems to stabilize, or even decrease in cases. As a result, no specific mandate has been put in place that would affect the industry at this point, which is a good thing. Remember that your normal experience at one of our wonderful restaurants may not be what you usually have, so please be patient. It may take longer to sit down and then get your food. But in the end it will be worth it!

Take advantage of the last days of summer and be careful!

Len Panaggio is a wine consultant and former director of corporate beverages for Newport Harbor Corp. Send your comments and suggestions to [email protected]. The Wine Press is published monthly in The Daily News and online at


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