A publication featuring student work from the Department of English and Communications at Salve Regina University.
BY ERIN DEMERS
T he clang of metal rings through the building and bounces off the wooden ceiling beams. Inside, skeleton saws buzz through fresh 2-by-4’s, nails are pounded into walls, and electric screwdrivers whir wildly to life. Outside the air is still. The only sounds to be heard are the doors to the gift shop opening and closing, car doors closing and engines running. The serenity of the 25-acre vineyard masks the major construction going on inside.
Newport Vineyards has been in operation since 1997 and offers 16 varieties of grapes. The original plants still produce the grapes used to create award-winning wines. But the vineyard has a new look.
The construction is happening in two different phases. First is a brand new “green” building, which will be completed by the end of 2013. The second phase will begin after that on the building currently being used for offices. The new buildings will be energy efficient, from the way they are heated to how the wine is made and bottled.
Craig Corsetti has been in the wine business for 20 years and began his career as tasting room manager and group event coordinator with Newport Vineyards 13 years ago. Corsetti explains the plus side of “going green” and the improvements that will come when construction is finished. The renovations will make the winery more modern and up-to-date. Another plus: With the changes being made, Newport Vineyards will be able to expand its wine making. Wine-making techniques will change, too. For example, wine is fed through tubes into vats or barrels. With the renovations, these tubes will be “gravity fed” so they not only use up less energy but also use less pumping, which improves the wine. “This process helps maintain the integrity of the wine,” Corsetti says.
Once the wine is prepared, it ferments in either barrels or stainless-steel vats. The barrels are 30 percent oak and can be reused, their oak content preventing a woody flavor from tainting the wine. The stainless-steel vats are nonreactive and temperature controlled, allowing the full flavor of the wine to be maintained, Corsetti explains.
Another new feature is the bottle machine. The enclosed rectangular glass box has a roller coaster of gears and metal tracks inside. Bottles slide along the track and are filled, capped and labeled. Filling the bottles inside the machine allows the reduction of air contact with the wine. The machine has the ability to fill about 30 cases per hour.
As far as energy efficiency goes, the vineyard is creating a new environment for producing wine. Solar panels glitter on the rooftop of the new building, which will be one source of green energy. To fuel the wine process and provide heat, the vineyard is reaping benefits directly from the vines. A wood-pellet stove has been added to the new building. Vine clippings are bailed into spiny barrels like a bucket of fire kindling. These bails will then be turned into small wood pellets and burned in the stove. As the branches of the vines grow, they will be pruned. Now that the harvest has begun there will be more pruning and many extra clippings. All of the vine cuttings, including the green tops of the vines, will be burned for fuel.
While there are many new improvements, sometimes the simplest things make the biggest difference. “I think my favorite part are the glass windows,” Corsetti says. “It gives a great view of the vineyard.” The windows run the length of the side of the building allowing visitors a breathtaking view of the vineyard. The grapevines go on for what seems like miles—an endless ocean. Although Newport Vineyards has been around for years, their new and improved facilities make it something to see, and taste, when visiting Newport.