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The Cellar: Summer Flavors from Coastal Vineyards

Saturday, August 04, 2012


Fresh varietals from Coastal Vineyards are a true discovery, and worth the roadtrip to South Dartmouth.

This summer and fall, GoLocal wine writer Steffen Rasch is exploring Southern New England’s Coastal Wine Trail. This week he visits Coastal Vineyards.

Coastal Vineyards is owned and operated by the Neilson family, who founded the estate in 2004. This makes this South Dartmouth vineyard the youngest member of the Coastal Wine Trail. For David and Linda Neilson, becoming grape growers and winemakers became a real possibility after they sold their successful garden center and landscaping business. The two had always had a love for agriculture and a passion for wine, so when they found a 14-acre corn farm in South Dartmouth it all came together.

The vineyard

Coastal Vineyards is unusual in that it is located in a residential neighborhood. The drive to Coastal Vineyards is a drive through one of the nicest neighborhoods in South Dartmouth. The narrow road that twists and turns its way to the vineyard is dotted with beautiful homes and manicured lawns. The vineyard itself, which sits in the family’s backyard, has no irrigation system, forcing David to work with whatever precipitation Mother Nature provides. It is this struggle, David argues, that along with maintaining low yields, helps make the vines produce the high-quality grapes.

The roughly 9,000 vines that were planted in ’05 and ’06 first gave fruit in 2008. This made 2009 Coastal Vineyards’ first official vintage. Since then, the productivity of the vines has increased year by year resulting in more and higher quality grapes producing increasingly better wines. Today, the number of varietals planted totals 12 and includes the popular varietals Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc and Merlot - just to name a few. With an additional 4 acres at his disposal, David is already contemplating what to plant next.

The varietals

At a recent visit, I was able to taste the current lineup. Among my favorites were the 2011 Beach Rose ($16), a Rosé made from Pinot Noir and a splash of Chardonnay that displays slightly underripe strawberry flavors alongside lovely minerality. It finishes surprisingly long with lingering citrus notes. My other favorite was the 2010 Un-oaked Chardonnay ($15) which displays classic apple, melon and ends ends on a refreshing citrus notes. Finally, I would mention the medium-bodied 2010 Merlot ($29) which is aged 18 months in French Oak and the 2011 White Wave, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris with a splash of Gewürztraminer.

Unless you have visited Coastal Vineyards or have been to some of the few restaurants or farmer’s markets in Massachusetts where Coastal sells its wine, chances are you probably haven’t tasted one of David’s delicious creations. He only makes 825 cases a year and unfortunately none of his wines is sold in Rhode Island—yet. So if you want to taste his delicious cool-climate wines you will have to pack a picnic basket and jump onto route 195 East. You will not be disappointed. Coastal Vineyards is located at 61 Pardon Hill Rd, South Dartmouth, MA 02748. They are open from April—December, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from noon to 5pm. 774-202-4876.


Steffen Rasch CSW is ready to answer any wine-related questions, comments or concerns you may have. Feel free to email him at srasch@golocalprov.com. And as always, don’t forget to follow GoLocalProv’s Wine Cellar on Facebook and sign up for one of his tastings through the Providence Wine Academy.


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