Sakonnet Vineyards

Who would have thought of New England as having a wine region? I didn’t know this, until when I looked for things to do in Rhode Island during my New England road trip and found out that there are some vineyards located in Southeastern part of New England (Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island). The climate at the southern coast of New England apparently is similar to the northern coast region of France, so they are able to grow some varietals of grapes for winemaking. I thought this was pretty interesting, so I decided to include a visit to one of the oldest vineyards there, the Sakonnet Vineyards in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

I visited Sakonnet Vineyards on an early Monday afternoon, so there were hardly anyone visiting at that time. When I arrived at the tasting room, there were two couples in the middle of their tasting session. I found out that they were from Boston, and they were in the area for a long weekend checking out Sakonnet and several other vineyards in the area. When it came to my turn to taste the wine, I was the only guest left, so I got to chat with the winery staff about their winemaking venture in New England. One of them happened to be the owner herself, so I had good conversation with her and learned that she was working in high-paced life in New York City prior to moving to Rhode Island to ‘slow down’ and start Sakonnet Vineyards. We also had good conversation about the impact of New England climate on the vineyards (such as the freak snowstorm that happened the night before my visit). She said since their vines had been around for more than 30 years, they’re more adapted to the local climate. Some of their newer neighbors were not as fortunate and might had lost some to the inclement weather.

After tasting their wonderful varieties of wine, I asked if they had tours of the winery scheduled. They did have tours scheduled, but since the next one was not until later that day, and I mentioned that I couldn’t wait that long since I needed to continue my road trip, the manager offered to give me a winery tour right then. It ended up to be a personal tour just for me — quite a nice treat / hospitality from them.

The photo below was taken just outside their Hospitality Center. I would definitely recommend a visit to this place especially if you’re a wine aficionado. Try their Rhode Island Red; I thought that was among the best red wines I had ever tasted.

Sakonnet Vineyards

The Breakers

I started the last day of my New England road trip with a visit to The Breakers, a mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, owned by the Vanderbilt family.

In the late 19th century, the Newport, RI, area became a summer destination for the wealthy Americans. There are several of those mansions that today became museums that you can visit. But one that is definite a ‘must visit’ is The Breakers, a 70-room mansion built by Cornelius Vanderbilt II (who was among the wealthiest persons in the United States at the time). He spared no expense in building this mansion. The home was constructed between 1893 and 1895 at a cost of more than $12 million (approximately $316 million in today’s dollars adjusted for inflation).

During the visit there, as part of the admission you get a headset/handheld player for a self-guided audio tour of the home. So you can spend as much or as little time on any part of the home. You’re not allowed to take photos inside the home, but you’re allowed to do so at the balcony outside and at the grounds around the home.

Here are some of my thoughts from my visit to this huge mansion. The home was definitely impressive and opulent, though it’s not my style preference (I like the modern style of interior design, more minimalist and clean style rather than the ornate). It’s mindboggling to think that this was only a vacation home for the Vanderbilt family, not their primary residence. The sad part of the story was that Mr. Vanderbilt could only enjoy the home that he built for four years, as he died due to a stroke in 1899. And it seemed that none of the Vanderbilt children except their youngest one, Countess Gladys SzĂ©chenyi, liked the property (she ended up inheriting it from her mother). Today it is preserved and opened up as a museum that provides a view to the life of the American rich and famous from the 19th century.

The photo below was taken at the balcony of the home’s second floor. Personally I thought the balcony was my favorite space in this home as it felt like a getaway from the heavily decorated rooms inside the home, and the ocean view facing the east was awesome and peaceful.

Balcony at The Breakers

New England

After finishing the coast-to-coast road trip from Santa Monica, CA, to Brooklyn, NY, I continued on up north to the New England area. Our coast-to-coast road trip took place in early October, and since I already took several days off from work, and I was already in New York City, I thought why not continuing the trip to visit New England during its peak fall foliage time. Prior to this trip, I had only visited Boston, MA, for business trip. I had never been to the other New England states. So this was a good opportunity to do it, and I decided to ‘sample’ all of the New England states in one extended weekend.

The route for the trip was quite an ambitious one, covering Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut in only four days. But since I was traveling alone (initially I invited my brother to come along, but he had some events to prepare for immediately after getting back to New York), my schedule was somewhat flexible and I could push it as far as I could personally take. The trip ended up to be a wonderful one as I got to experience many things unique to the region — fall foliage, maple syrup, lobster, history — capping the longest road trip I had ever undertaken, around 5,300 miles covering 22 states from California to Maine in 10 days.

The photo below was taken on the Park Loop Road in the Acadia National Park, ME. I had purchased the car about one month before the trip, and this trip was its first road trip outside the DC metro area. On a morning drive through the gorgeous drive, I noticed this stretch of the road that was lined with colorful trees, and the road had a nice S curve. It was early enough that there was no traffic for few minutes, so I ‘staged’ my car and took the photo.

Fall drive in Acadia