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Visit to Leyden Farm Vineyards and Winery

This Saturday we took a ride out into the wilds of Rhode Island to visit the Leyden Farms Vineyard and Winery.  It’s a bit of a drive down Rt. 95, then Rt 102 north (exit 5) and a left on Plain Meeting House Road.  It took us about 35 minutes from Cranston.  Let me start by saying we definitely suggest you take a ride and check it out.

CIMG1612Let me follow by saying that what you will find is not yet a vineyard and winery.  Leyden Farms is just starting out, with about 1000 vine plantings years away from a production crop and 3000 more plantings on the way.  What you’ll see in the fields right now are Christmas trees, which are cool in themselves.  The good news is they are pouring wine, which is currently made to their specifications at Newport Vineyards and Shelalara.  Even better news is that some of the wines are pretty good, and we’re going to recommend them.  The best news though, is that the people there are awesome, the tasting experience they’ve designed is different and enjoyable, and the whole place kind of exudes a sense of warmth and comfort.  We settled right in and had a very good time.

When you pull up it will look like this: CIMG1613

The outside is still under a bit of construction, but never fear, the inside is finished.  The decor is rustic as you would expect, and it works.  Inside the large room are the register, store, tasting bar and several tables and chairs, as well as stocks of the wines for sale.  The tables are the best part, because that’s where Cheri and I sat.  A very nice server brought over our glasses and then proceeded to pour our wines two at a time as we went through the ten wine tasting (between the two of us, a tasting gets you five wines).  This was great.  There were a couple of wines we didn’t care for and didn’t finish, and you had to go up  to the bar and pour out the remainder to let the server know you were finished.  She very happily rinsed out your glass with some water and then came over with the next two.  Now, while this worked very well for us, I’m not sure how it will go if it gets crowded.  They might need multiple people pouring.

We went on a Living Social voucher that included some cheese, which was cool.  Actually it included a very nice plate of several cheeses, crackers, soppressata and red and white grapes.  Very nice indeed.  Here it is:

CIMG1614So we munched on this while we tasted out way through the wines.  I could do this every day.

On a nice spring/summer/fall day I could see bringing a picnic lunch and sitting on the back patio with a bottle of wine and the tree fields for scenery.  They mentioned they also do live music in the warmer months, so all the pieces are in play here.

This is also a chance to get to know this winery from the beginning and watch it grow.  How many times do you get a chance to do that?  They’re going to be making their own wines in five or six years, and the first vintage is now something I want to try.  So we’ll be going back every year to see how things are progressing.

I did mention there were wines.  Here they are with some brief tasting notes:

Apple Jack Russell: this is a white with the essence of green apple added.  The apple is seamless and tastes completely natural.  This is really yummy.  It’s sweet but not cloying, and the tart apple balances the sugar nicely.  This will make a nice dessert wine as well.  We took some of this home with us.  Recommended.

Lazy Watermelon: watermelon essence added to blush wine.  For us this is not as successful as the apple wine.  I didn’t think it was bad, but wouldn’t, and didn’t, buy it.

Samson’s Wildberry: red wine blended with wildberry and pomegranate.  Think chilled, comfortable chair, summertime.  This is yummy as well and came home with us.  Recommended.

Romeo’s Passion Fruit:  blush wine with essence of passion fruit.  This was incredibly floral, almost like munching on crushed flowers.  Over the top floral for us.  Not recommended but try it.

Golden Sangria: looks like sangria.  Tastes like sangria as well, but where the apple essence blended seamlessly with the wine, this for us had a bit of a chemical, added quality to the flavors, especially the orange.  Many are really going to like this, so we suggest you give it a try.

Sunny Grigio: I thought this was quite nice.  The flavors were crisp, with a hint of citrus.  It reminded me of a good vidal blanc;  a nice, long finish with no bitterness.  This is recommended.

Jack’s White Merlot: this is a miss.  Very light body and flavor profile.  Not much going on.  The initial taste was not pleasant for me.  Not recommended.  Not sure what they were going for here.

Samson’s Merlot: this might have been good with less wood.  The charred oak dominates everything.  I got a flashback to Spaceship Earth when you go through the Middle Ages and the burning timbers are smoldering.  Kind of like a really smoky scotch, where the burnt, smokiness is all you can get from it.  Didn’t like this.  Not recommended.

Romeo’s Red: this is the best more traditional wine, and is actually quite good for a lighter style, bordeaux grape blend.  A mixture of Merlot, Cab Franc, Cab Sauv and Landot Noir (OK – the last one is not a traditional bordeaux grape), this had a light body and a reserved nose, but some very nice fruit on the palate and nice length.  I quite liked it.  Recommended as a light body, dryer red.

The wines are all in the $17-$18 range, which is pretty typical for local wineries.  After all, these guys can’t get the kind of economies of scale the big boys do, so they’re not going to be able to produce a $7 bottle of wine.  You’re helping support local business here.

There you have it, some hits and some misses.  I would expect good and bad at any winery, at least good and less good.  Our last trip to Stonington Vineyards produced less wines I liked.  The same can be said for Childress Vineyards in North Carolina, where we were tasting wines that sold up to $50.  Overall Leyden Farm is on the right track, but they’re not really making their own wine yet.  All in good time.

They are serving up an excellent experience though, and we suggest you visit.  As I said we’ll be back at least once a year to watch the journey unfold.  Here’s Maureen Leyden behind the counter.  She will make sure you feel at home.

CIMG1615

The particulars:   website

Leyden Farm

Vineyards & Winery

160 Plain Meeting House Road

West Greenwich, RI 02817

401-392-1133

OPEN  Every  Sat. and Sun.  12-4 

A votre sante!

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