Wine Growing

Shop Greenvale Award-Winning WineLocated on pristine agricultural lands in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, our 27 acres under vine has long demonstrated the region’s ability to produce exceptional wines. The soils and climate, due to our proximity to the ocean, offer ideal conditions for growing wines grapes. And so since 1982, we’ve set out to grow the best wines the region can provide. We began with Vidal Blanc (1982), Cayuga (1983), Chardonnay (1983), Cabernet Franc (1989), Pinot Gris (1998), Merlot (1998), Malbec (1998), and Albarino (2011)—for ourselves, as well as for other New England wineries. Continuously building our understanding of our vineyards—from vines to soils to native plants and pests—has been intrinsic to staying true to our overall mission of crafting great, estate-grown wines. Since 1990, Vineyard Manager Hever Ortega has been integral to this. He and Bill currently work together in guiding the vineyards to produce exceptional fruit. All of our vineyard sites are hand-harvested, and herbicide-free.

Clipping of GrapesWinemaking

A lot has been learned in the vineyard over its forty-year lifetime: we’ve added or replaced varietals, we’ve alternated our trellising/training systems, and we’ve dealt with the changing cycles of pests and diseases. We’ve had great harvests, as well as unfortunate ones.  All along however, we remain true to our values of producing with sincerity and integrity, while constantly considering “what else can improve” to produce flavorful and distinct fruit. This philosophy takes work, but it’s bedrock to how we operate—not only in the vineyard, but in the winery as well.

After our fruit has been brought in, winemakers Bill Wilson and Richard Carmichael ensure a gentle transition from the juice stage, to finished wine. We use low-intervention techniques throughout the process, with the intention facilitating the fruit, and it’s fermentation, towards expressing itself in finished wines. Our wine style range from semi-sweet, effervescent whites, to dry reds using our three Bordeaux varietals: Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Malbec. All of our wines are grown here at Greenvale.

A glimpse into Aquidneck Island’s heritage:
Agriculture on Aquidneck Island has a rich history, particularly with growing fruit. The sloping loamy soils, combined with the fully encompassing presence of the sea, provides a generous growing season for agricultural crops and native flora. Our maritime climate also experiences mild winters, through which fruit crops and other perennials can remain comfortably dormant. Colonial-era farmers took note of Aquidneck Island’s favorable growing conditions. Merchants began commodifying the agricultural goods grown on Aquidneck Island— peaches and apples—and integrated them into the mercantile economy of colonial America which Newport helped drive. These environmental and economic circumstances allowed Aquidneck Island to become known as the peach capital of America during the 1700’s.

The tradition of specifically growing wine grapes on Aquidneck Island dates back to the mid 1700s. Aaron Lopez—a merchant and prior owner of what became Greenvale Farm—imported and planted varietals from his home country of Portugal. Mr Lopez’s decision to plant wine grapes resulted from his observation that Aquidneck Island and Portugal have climatic and topographic similarities.

Fast forward to the 1960’s. Cortlandt Parker, Jr. planted a few dozen vines of Marechal Foch, a red hybrid varietal, for his own enjoyment. In 1982, the family decided to increase their acreage, planting Vidal Blanc, followed by Cayuga and Chardonnay, to be sold to nearby wineries. It took about ten years of commercial growing before he and his daughter Nancy Parker Wilson, began producing their own wine under Greenvale’s own label. Thirty-eight years later, Greenvale Vineyards has roughly 27 cultivated acres, producing wines that are nationally recognized for their distinct taste of place.