More Maps

Gretchen Neuman

You might be wondering what is going on here. Well, the truth is I can’t get to all the places that I want to visit fast enough, but I am still going to start talking about them. And in order to illustrate the areas that I am talking about, I am going to use one of my handy-dandy maps.

So over the next couple of weeks, you will see me posting maps of AVAs across the country that I would like to visit (um, that would be all of them). So take THAT! Stephen Tiberius Colbert! I am plowing ahead with my Stephen T. Colbert, Better Know an AVA!

If you are familiar with anyone in these regions, please let me know, I would like to talk to wine makers all over the country.

The President Is A Locapour!

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

The President celebrated his first State Dinner last night. There were a lot of complaints about the timing of the dinner being a couple of nights before Thanksgiving and though I haven’t heard it said aloud YET, I am sure that there will be complaints that the menu contained a vegetarian option.

Since the dinner was given in honor of Dr. Manmohan Singh, a Sikh, this is totally appropriate (plus there was a seafood option, you big babies).

I am including the menu from the dinner along with the wine pairings below:

The State Dinner Menu

Potato and Eggplant Salad
White House Arugula with Onion Seed Vinaigrette
2008 Sauvignon Blanc, Modus Operandi, Napa, California

Red Lentil Soup with Fresh Cheese
2006 Riesling, Brooks “Ara,” Willamette Valley, Oregon

Roasted Potato Dumplings
with Tomato Chutney
Chick Peas and Okra


Green Curry Prawns
Caramelized Salsify
with smoked Collard Greens
and Coconut Aged Basmati
2007 Grenache, Beckmen Vineyards, Santa Ynez, CA

Pumpkin Pie Tart
Pear Tatin
Whipped Cream and Caramel Sauce
Sparkling Chardonnay, Thibaut Janisson Brut, Monticello, Virginia

Petis Fours and Coffee
Cashew Brittle
Pecan Pralines
Passion Fruit and Vanilla Glaces
Chocolate-Dipped Fruit

I loved that the wines were all American (there IS Indian wine), although this has become more common over the last couple of years… so the thing that I am clinging to is Thibaut Janisson Brut, Sparkling Chardonnay from Charlottesville, Virginia in the Monticello AVA.

So, the President believes in local wine!!! yeah!

Viva la Locapour! (‘Viva’ seeming inappropriate for a holiday that we associate as being New England in origin, aka Thanksgiving, but so be it!)  On the other hand, Monticello is a perfect ‘American’ holiday connection as Thomas Jefferson was a founding father, Ambassador to France and one of America’s first vintners.

Yes, I am all over the place.  I am tired.  And geeked out at the same time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Better Know an AVA ~ Newport, Rhode Island

Waterfront, Newport Rhode Island

Waterfront, Newport Rhode Island

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

I fell in love with Newport on the drive down to the waterfront.  Our plan, if you can call the itinerary we hastily constructed over brunch a mere five hours before a plan, included spending the afternoon touring local wineries and then stopping in Newport for dinner on the waterfront.  At the time all I knew of Newport was that it was seafront town with legendary mansions, the “summer cottages” built by the New York elite at the turn of the 20th century.

Newport was founded in 1639 by a group of eight men after a political falling out with Anne Hutchinson and her followers.  The town was settled on the south side of Aquidneck Island, near the mouth of Narragansett Bay, and throughout the 17th and 18th century the town and its citizens grew prosperous from both the whaling industry and the slave trade.  During the Revolutionary War, French troops under the command of General Rochambeau first landed in America at Newport, and the town served as the French base of operations for the duration of the war.  Today you’ll still see references to Rochambeau throughout the area, and at least one vineyard, Newport Vineyards, has named a wine in his honor.  By the mid-19th century the town was becoming a summer destination for wealthy Americans, including families like the Vanderbilts and the Astors who built the homes that today comprise the Newport Mansions Historic District.

Newport, Rhode Island, Thames Street Shopping District / Photo: Marguerite Barrett

A variety of pubs and restaurants can be found in the side streets off of the main shopping district along Thames Street.

As we drove in though, we weren’t thinking about the mansions, and the Newport we discovered is a charming seaside town with a shoreline shopping and restaurant district that manages to retain the flavor of its New England seaport past without being kitschy.  The downtown waterfront area comprises one of three historic districts within Newport’s boundaries and includes one of the largest concentrations of colonial-era homes left in the country, a charming shopping district which runs along Thames street, and a wide variety of restaurants lining the waterfront.

We parked in one of the lots off of Thames Street and strolled down the brick-paved street, window shopping our way over to Bowen’s Wharf and The Landing restaurant.  Dinner was excellent; we were able to snag seats on the upstairs porch with great views of the water and the “what felt like thousands of” sailboats moored in the harbor.  For the life of me, I can’t remember what Christy had for dinner, but I haven’t forgotten the Lobster Mornay I ordered – delicious! – pasta baked in a rich cheese and cream sauce with nice big chunks of fresh lobster.  Yum!  We lingered over dinner, and as we walked back up Thames street to the car, we discovered that Newport also has a very vibrant nightlife with both bars and restaurants filled to capacity throughout downtown.

The Landing Restaurant, Bowen's Wharf.  Photo Courtesy of Christy Sherard

The Landing Restaurant, Bowen's Wharf. Photo Courtesy of Christy Sherard

Facing a 2-2.5 hour drive home we decided to skip the bars, grab the car and drive past the mansions on our way out of town.  What didn’t occur to us, but probably should have, is that they are all surrounded by tall (very tall) fences and hedges.  Thinking about it now, I realize of course they have hedges – I’m sure the last thing the Vanderbilts came to Newport for was to mingle with the locals…   What I later learned was that we would have done better if we had walked back to the car along the waterfront as that would have taken us past a large group of historic colonial-era homes.  Not as opulent as the mansions, but equally interesting.  Ah well, just another reason to go back…

What makes Newport noteworthy from a locapour-point-of-view is its location in the heart of the Southeastern New England AVA and the Coastal Wine Trail, making it the perfect base of operations for a long weekend exploring southern New England wine country by day while enjoying the town by night.  The Coastal Wine Trail includes eight wineries stretching along the Rhode Island/Southern Massachusetts coastline from the Langworthy Farms Winery at the Connecticut/Rhode Island border to the Truro Winery on Cape Cod.  But the remaining six wineries are all clustered in the general vicinity of Newport.   And if that were not enough, each Fall the Preservation Society of Newport County hosts the Newport Mansions Wine & Food Festival, allowing you to experience everything Newport has to offer all in one place.

Newport is approximately 3.5 hours from New York, 90 minutes from Boston, and 2.5 hours from Hartford.

Regional Wine Week Winds Down

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

Well, Regional Wine Week is winding down.  This week Vino Verve earned our “frequent flyer” points revisiting recent stops at wineries in Connecticut and New Jersey (me) and Iowa and Nebraska (Gretchen).

But we haven’t heard from you…  Did you sample any US or Canadian wines produced outside California/Oregon/Washington this week?  Or stop by a local winery?

If so, we’d love to hear about them.  Drop me an email at with a write-up of what you drank and/or where you went.  If you have pictures, great – if not, that’s great too.  Don’t worry about length or style – we never do!

Join us in extending Regional Wine Week all year long!


It’s Regional Wine Week! How Are You Going To Celebrate?

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

The week of October 11-15 has been designated Regional Wine Week 2009 by the folks at, and they are encouraging bloggers all over the US (outside of the big wine regions of California, Oregon and Washington) to celebrate the week by highlighting their region’s local wines in their posts this week.

As loyal Vino Verve readers know, we are ALL about local wines, and while we celebrate local wines all year long, we’re especially excited to participate in regional wine week.  In addition to our regular posts, look for little extras thrown in – perhaps even a revisiting of some of our favorite local wines throughout the week.  We’ll, of course, post everything here on Vino Verve, but will also send the link to so it can be included in the week’s listings.

But enough about how we’re going to celebrate Regional Wine Week, what are you going to do?   Pick up something from your local liquor/package store?  Finally make that trip to a local winery (we know you’ve been thinking about it for some time…)?  Throw a dinner party featuring regional wines?   If you’re not sure where to start, just stop by your local liquor store and ask for local or regional wines – odds are they have a section.  And if you’re interested in wineries, Google your state name and “wine trail” – or check out the Win(e)ding Roads section here on Vino Verve (under the adventures tab) for links to posts about wineries we’ve visited in our travels to date.

Whatever you do – we want to hear about it – and better yet, we’ll publish it!  If you don’t have a wine blog, but are interested in celebrating your local wine(s) during Regional Wine Week, send me a write-up of what you drank, where you found it, and why you liked it (or not), and we’ll publish it here on Vino Verve and link it to  If you do have a blog, we’d love to get the link, and, of course, don’t forget to send the link to

Send any submissions and/or photos to, and I’ll get them posted.  And check in often with both and for updated posts celebrating Regional Wine Week.


New Jersey Fresh Wine & Food Festival

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

On Saturday, August 8th (12-5) and Sunday, August 9th (12-5) join The Garden State Wine Growers Association for the

Jersey Fresh Food and Wine Festival

The festival will feature wines from 20 New Jersey wineries along with locally grown food and arts & crafts.

The event is being held at Heritage Vineyards (480 Mullica Hill Road (Rte 322), Richwood, NJ 08074 Phone: 856-589-4474 ).  Heritage Vineyards, owned and operated by the Heritage family, has been producing award-winning wines since 2001.

Richwood is located in the Southwestern corner of New Jersey, close to Philadelphia, and about 2 hours from New York city.

Weird Sitings on the Road

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Have you ever taken a road trip and seen really bizarre stuff while driving? Well, I sure did when I headed west…

IMG_0794 Herbert Hoover… everyone’s favorite President…  Eventually, I stop that I made later in the trip to visit a winery…


Yee Haw!  Buffalo Bill?  He left here when he was 12 according to the historian I overheard here… That means he DID nothing of interest here.

IMG_0973 The pretty, pristine side of the of the Bonneville Salt Flats…. They put berms up around the speedway to catch the dust and dirt….IMG_0975

and the unpretty side…

trip 038A Stage Coach?A Conestoga Wagon?Yes.  That is a giraffe.