We’ve been to Sakonnet Vineyards many times over the years, but this was the first time since the winery was purchased by Alex + Ani founder Carolyn Rafaelian in 2012. Rafaelian’s well-known interest in Eastern mysticism and the Zodiac is evident everywhere from the winery decor to the new wine labels and names.
The changes are mostly positive: the tasting room has received a makeover, the grounds now include a performance stage near the grapevines, and there’s a lovely outdoor cafe serving food and wine. Both the setting and the ongoing summer concert series reminded us of the similar setups used by the wineries on the East End of Long Island, which like Sakonnet have matured from simple tasting rooms to full-on entertainment venues.
Perhaps to help pay for all this, the wine prices are significantly higher than we remembered, as well. Most vintages fall in the $25-$35 price range. The tasting (7 wines plus a glass and a brief tour) was $14 per person. As luck would have it, however, our favorite was the reasonably priced ($19.99) Prana, a light, semi-sweet non-vintage blend of Vidal Blanc and Gewurtztraminer.
Unlike most tastings, you’re not tied to the bar here: you get seven tasting tickets that you can use at your leisure, meaning you can stroll around the grounds with your samples and then head back to the bar when you’re ready for more. If you find a favorite, you can use multiple tickets to get a more generous pour.
As always, Sakonnet made a great destination for an East Bay road trip to Tiverton and Little Compton. After making stops here and at Westport Vineyards for some bubbly (just 18 minutes away, across the Massachusetts border), we finished our Labor Day jaunt at the lovely Boat House restaurant in Tiverton, noshing on seafood chowder and mussels alongside Mount Hope Bay — just perfect!