How Greenvale Vineyards Warms Up for the Holidays

Our annual “Warm Up for the Holidays” gathering here at Greenvale Vineyards is one that we all look forward to every year. For 15 years we have loved hosting old friends and look forward to making new ones in our cozy, beautifully restored tasting room. This opportunity is perfect for all types of company, whether you are looking for a romantic winter date, a joyful night out with friends or even a yuletide event with your family.

The Greenvale tasting room decorated for the holidays.

In addition to wine tastings of our estate grown wines, we’ll be serving warm-mulled wine and food samples from local vendors. Kenyon’s Grist Mill will be serving hot Johnny Cakes and Wellfleet Shellfish Co. will offer smoked fish and oysters! Dick Lupino and friends will be performing holiday favorites for your musical enjoyment and there will also be holiday gifts for sale, walking tours of the vineyard and we will be offering children-based activities as well. Join us for our most soul-warming gathering of the year!

The event will take place on December 13 from 1:00 p.m.-5:00 p.m. Wine tasting connoisseurs will be charged $15 per person and children entrance is free. Don’t miss out on a great holiday experience and for any questions or more information please contact Greenvale Vineyards at 401-847-3777, or visit the website:

This post was written by guest blogger Maggie Hartnett of the Greenvale Vineyards.

Are You Seal Watching This Winter? Hop Onboard Alletta Morris

Save the Bay Alletta MorrisSave the Bay is an organization dedicated to preserving, respecting and admiring our Bay’s wild life.

Seal Watching on Save the Bay’s M/V Alletta Morris in Newport has become a tradition for many families during the last 12 years. Seals, the winter visitors of Narragansett Bay, can be viewed in the Bay between the months of November through April. If you have been to Newport during this time of the year in the past, chances are you have already seen Save the Bay’s vessel M/V Alletta Morris on the water, exploring the waters. You may have wondered: Why are they out there in the middle of the winter? Well, Save the Bay’s Seal Tours offer an experience unlike any other in the area. As part of Save the Bay’s mission to foster environmental stewardship for the bay, the Seal Watch tours include narration by experts to help expand your knowledge about these marine mammals that are similar, yet different to other mammals, including humans!

The narration includes notable characteristics including their migration patterns, food habits and identifiable features, along with laws and regulations for conservation of these species. The tours offer the patrons on-board an up-close and personal look at our Bay’s furry winter visitors.
The passengers are taken out to Citing Rock in Newport Harbor, which is a popular hangout spot for seals, too! Seal watch tours generally run for an hour, but on some days a two hour tour is offered, visiting the famous Rose Island Light House. Families and patrons interested to know more about seals and the other animals in Narragansett Bay do not have to stop with the Seal Watch Tour as they can continue their exploration by visiting Save the Bay’s Exploration Center and Aquarium located on Easton’s Beach, Newport. In addition to the many viewing tanks housing animals from the bay, the center features a number of touch tanks, including dogfish sharks and skates. For more information about the center:

If the seal watchers want to bring more information to their kids’ schools located in Rhode Island or surrounding areas, Save the Bay has opportunities for that as well. Among numerous classroom programs, one particular program focuses on Seals of Narragansett Bay called ‘Sealia’. The program includes hands-on activities that expand on knowledge about seals with the help of a life-sized model of a harbor seal. For information about Save The Bay’s education programs:

What does the winter of 2014-2015 have in store for you? Save the Bay will be kicking off this year’s Newport Seal Season this Thanksgiving Weekend! The trips are designed for all ages, so whether you are 5 or 95, I’m sure your experience on the Alletta Morris will be one that you won’t soon forget! We can’t wait to see you out there this winter! For more about Save the Bay’s Seal tours and schedule:

This post was written by Rupa Datta (Education Program Manager) and Capt. Dan Blount (Public Program Manager) both of the Save the Bay Organization.

Report from the Field: Newport Restaurant Week at Christian’s of Bristol

Guest blogger and Editor of the Newport Mercury, Janine Weisman, dishes on Bristol’s newest hotspot. 

Fired up over Bristol’s newest restaurant

If timing is everything, consider Christian’s your Exhibit A.

ffe26b1b44531fa58cd413c96fd5120aThe newest addition to downtown Bristol’s restaurant scene opened November 1 in the Thames Street space formerly occupied for five years by The Hourglass Brasserie. With one week to prep for Newport Restaurant Week, Executive Chef Christian Ferreira and his parents and business partners Kendra and Paul Ferreira, jumped feet first into this bi-annual celebration of local dining

So if our enjoyable table-for-two dining experience last Friday night at the start of restaurant week was any indication, Christian’s should quickly win over a devoted following with a menu of savory wood grilled entrees and a standout wine list no doubt influenced by the three years Ferreira spent as chef at wine savvy Roberto’s.

My husband and I were thankful for our reservation (it’s a 42-seat space) and did try to take a moment to think of the many less fortunate walk-ins turned away at the door. But I confess my empathy was fleeting. We had a dazzling menu to peruse after all. ( I’m sure those reservation-less people did just fine at Bristol House of Pizza anyway.)

Christian’s regular menu offers a mix of small plates (chilled beef carpaccio, crispy California roll and wood fired Brussels Sprouts are among the selections), grilled pizza and large plates that include a wood fired-burger and pork chop.  While sipping the delicate sweet-tart balance of my Echo Bay Sauvignon Blanc, my new favorite white wine, I gazed at the juicy display of a wood-fired half-chicken draped over bacon cornbread stuffing and charred Brussels Sprouts at the next table in a moment of indecision before ordering.

My husband started with a golden beet salad while I began with Ferreira’s daring take on calamari. The calamari tubes came grilled and stuffed with spicy pork, harissa and cous cous with gremolata. Not the easiest thing to cut with a butter knife but you have to appreciate the concept.4c38bfc3d66de4bd46a75f955c3ef31c

I ultimately went for the wood fired sea scallops off the restaurant week menu. My husband opted for the fish of the day, which was a lovely moist hoisin-tinged salmon fillet over colorful tomatoes. We were very happy with both dishes that came nicely presented in wide white porcelain bowls. The scallops were nestled over creamy farro with butternut squash, prosciutto and exquisite beech mushrooms

Dessert was a wonderful Kahlua Creme Brûlée which I savored oh so slowly. I forsee many more good things to come at Christian’s, with its inviting space and friendly servers. Kendra Ferreira, a locally respected artist known for her vivid pastel and colored pencil works, told me she has artwork planned for the walls.

For the dining experience, the artistry in the kitchen and soon to be on the walls, Christian’s is a place to get fired up over. We will be back. And we won’t forget to make a reservation.

Christian’s, 382 Thames St., Bristol, (401) 396-9811,

Sneak Peek: Holiday Happenings

Trip to Rose Island Lighthouse for holiday sunset.It seems like just yesterday we were sailing on an America’s Cup 12 Meter yacht and sinking our toes into the warm sand at Second Beach, and here we are looking forward to “Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels / Doorbells and sleigh bells and schnitzel with noodles!”

We’re just 7 weekends away from Christmas and as anyone who has experienced Newport and Bristol during the holidays will tell you, there’s a certain magic in the air during this treasured time of year. White lights illuminate homes, shops, bustling wharves and restaurants throughout the city as fireplaces glow and comfort foods are dished up. Santa visits extraordinary locations, from the Newport Mansion to arriving by boat at the Bowen’s Wharf Tree Lighting. Now in it’s 44th year, Christmas in Newport returns with daily events that celebrate the non-commercial traditions of the holidays. There’s a lot more to come, but  here’s a sneak peek at some yuletide happenings:

Christmas in Newport

Watch as the spirit of Christmas comes alive in our City by the Sea. The mansions are sparkling, cozy shops are filled with holiday gifts and restaurants are serving comfort foods and specialty drinks. There is no greater feeling than the holidays in New England, and Newport is the perfect place to have Jack Frost nipping at your nose. Visit

 Holidays at the Mansions

The Breakers, The Elms and Marble House will be shining this Christmas season, filled with poinsettias, Christmas trees and yuletide splendor to create a storybook aura for visitors. The mansions are decorated from November 22, 2014 until January 4, 2015. They are all open daily for tours. (The Breakers opens at 9 a.m.; The Elms and Marble House at 10 a.m. The last tour is at 4 p.m. and all houses and grounds close at 5 p.m.) Visit in Newport, 12/22/09/christmas-at-the-newport-mansions or call 401-847-1000.

Candlelight Tour of Historic Private Homes & More

For over 40 years Newport has featured incredible holiday events to boost spirit of the city. Join the festival and see sparkling white lights while exploring the colonial homes in the Point and Historic Hill neighborhoods and the Victorians on Bellevue Avenue. Visit

Newport Nutcracker at the Rosecliff

Spend your night as a part of one of ballet’s most influential shows- The Nutcracker. Island Moving Co. performs this beautiful piece that moves throughout the Rosecliff’s rooms, allowing the audience to be extremely close to the dancers. The Nutcracker is showing on November 28-30 and December 2-5, 2014. Visit

Holiday Histories Tour

The Newport Historical Society invites guests to participate in an evening walk full of interesting facts about how Newport celebrated the holidays through the centuries. Tour dates range from November 14 to December 27, 2014. Reservations encouraged, $15/person. Visit or call 401-841-8770.

Children’s Holiday Story Time at Blithewold Mansion

On Wednesdays this holiday season, bring your children to listen to classic stories told throughout the years at Christmastime. This program is best suited for children 4-8 years old and will take place in the mansion’s living room. Event runs from December 3 until December 17, 2014, 4-6 p.m. Cookies and crafts are also offered after the story. Visit

Island moving company_photo by Thomas PalmerSparkle at Blithewold Friday

Listen to carolers as they sing tunes around the bonfire, explore the illuminated gardens, and enjoy roasted marshmallows and cocoa in the warmth of the enclosed greenhouse. Friday nights from November 28 to January 2, 2014, 6-8 p.m. Tickets are available with any regular mansion admission. Visit

Holiday Evenings at the Newport Mansions

Enjoy live holiday music and refreshments while walking through an illumined Breakers. November 29, December 6, 13 and 27, 2014, 6-8 p.m. The Elms and Marble House offer an evening on Saturday, December 20. Adult tickets $35 in advance; $45 on the day of, Children: $10 in advance; $15 day of. Visit or call 401-847-1000.

Un-decked Halls at Doris Dukes Rough Point

Ever wonder how the staff in the Gilded Age celebrated Christmastime? Come to Rough Point to receive a tour of Doris Duke’s estate, which she left every Christmas in Newport, Doorway Contest Winners, 12/14/09holiday season to spend in Hawaii, but still was decorated by her staff. See their decorated wing, hear about Ms. Duke’s holiday adventures, learn about the winter upkeep of the mansion and enjoy refreshments in the staff dining room, which is not normally open to the public. December 6, 13, 20 and 27, 2014, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Tours run every half hour. Visit

Bowen’s Wharf Tree Lighting

On December 6, 2014, witness the beautiful tree in Bowen’s Wharf lit for the first time of the season. Frosty the Snowman and caroling starting at 4:30p.m. City official lights the tree, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive by boat (weather permitting) at 5:45p.m. Live Music. Free. Visit or call 401-849-2120

Santa Claus at the Newport Mansions

Santa Claus will be stopping at the mansions for photo ops and fun! The Breakers will feature Santa on December 7; Marble House on December 14 and The Elms on December 21. Visits will be from noon – 3 p.m. Enjoy eggnog and cookies. Visit or call 401-847-1000.

Christmas Carols at Armory Antiques

Visit the Armory on December 21, 2014 to enjoy holiday tunes being sung and the brisk winter air around you. Visit


Meeting in Newport: A Salute to the Past with an Eye on the Future

There’s a reason why families with names like Vanderbilt, Astor and Duke made Newport their playground during the turn of the century. Today, you don’t need a baron of industry’s bankroll for your group to enjoy the spoils of the City-by-the-Sea. Home to spectacular coastal scenery, rich history, awe-inspiring architecture, a thriving waterfront downtown, miles of stunning beaches, acclaimed restaurants and warm hospitality, Newport is considered the shining gem in the coastal crown of New England. With 375 years of history, Newport can offer an enviable balance of authentic, historic venues alongside the modern conveniences expected among today’s savvy business travelers.

Our convention hotels and unique venues are constantly updating and improving facilities to meet the needs of group planners. Some highlights include:

The Newport Marriott, featuring 319 rooms, is undergoing a complete renovation and makeover of the property that will begin on November 23, 2014. The hotel will be closed during the transformation and will reopen in the beginning of April 2015.

IM000303.JPGThe International Tennis Hall of Fame has embarked on an extensive and strategic plan that lays the groundwork for building a 21st century campus and world-class tennis facility which will offer an enhanced experience for visitors. Work on the renovating the museum is underway, with the new museum slated to open in spring 2015. A major reinterpretation of the museum will draw visitors into tennis history through various multi-media components. Emphasis is on telling the story of tennis through  240 Hall of Famers, and artifacts that relate to a particular Hall of Famer are labeled as such. The plans also focus on highlighting the global impact and appeal of tennis. Housed inside the 1880 Newport Casino, the International Tennis Hall of Fame major renovation and expansion project will be completed to the sum of $15 million.

The newly renovated casemates at Fort Adams, located within the walls of the Fortress, feature three vaulted, arched chambers with brick ceilings and granite walls overlook the Parade Field, windows – formerly ‘embrasures’ or “gun ports” for large cannons that provide water views of Narragansett Bay and Newport Harbor, and can accommodates 20 – 200 guests. Discover Newport hosted an exquisite FAM tour here in August. The Barracks Dining Room there, an intimate space with many distinctive architectural characteristics, accommodates up to 40 guests.

Newport Vineyards is undergoing a multi-million dollar expansion including the addition of a new restaurant, Brix Restaurant, which features two walls of npt vineyardswindows overlooking the winery’s barrel room, tank room and views out to the vineyard, ideal for taking in all the action of harvest and winery activities. In sum, Newport Vineyards is renovating over 30,000 square feet of their building. Slated for an early 2015 completion, phase two of the renovation includes a new tasting room, three-season porch, second patio, marketplace and new space for the neighboring bakery and deli. Newport vineyards offers distinctive event spaces for groups from 20 to 400.

The Audrain Automobile Museum was established in the fall of 2014 with the vision of becoming one of the most highly regarded automotive museums in New England, a beacon for the local community and a hub for car enthusiasts everywhere.The Audrain collection is comprised of over 112 of the rarest and most remarkable vehicles in history, and houses fully restored vehicles ranging from the beginning of the 20th Century to modern day. To keep the museum fresh, the entire collection is never displayed at once. Instead, vehicles are showcased based on periodically changing exhibition themes. This gives visitors and members of the museum the opportunity to have a completely unique experience with each visit.

The just-introduced Fish’n Tales Adventures invites guests embark on 90-minute excursions to haul working lobster traps, as well as fishing trips for individuals and larger groups. The adventure includes a tour of the inner harbor as groups motor a short distance to the lobster fishing grounds. The captain and crew will haul out six to eight “pots” as they are called, while the passengers aboard learn all about lobsters, their unique habitat, and the tricks of the trade of being a lobster fisherman. Guests help the crew re-fill the nylon mesh bait bags before they drop the heavy contraptions overboard again. Back at the dock at Aquidneck Lobster Company, The passengers who would like to take their catch home can pay the market’s daily “boat price” or, for a small additional cost, they can have the lobsters perfectly steam-cooked and wrapped to take home.

For more information on meeting in Newport and to meet our Destination Experts, CLICK HERE.

From Halloween Pirates to Holiday Histories: The Historical Society’s Upcoming Events

As the City of Newport gears up for an old fashioned “Hallowe’en,” the Newport Historical Society will present a lecture this Thursday, October 30th at 5:30 that’s just right for mischief night. Greg Flemming, author of the new pirate-themed book At the Point of a Cutlass, will share his research on Philip Ashton, a man captured in June 1722 and forced to sail with a pirate crew commanded by the vicious Edward Low.

From Ashton’s own account, trial records, logbooks and a rare 1725 manuscript, Flemming shares the true story of a man thrust into the violent world of piracy and his daring survival and escape.

Taken in a surprise attack near Nova Scotia in June 1722, Ashton was forced to sail across the Atlantic and back with a crew under the command of Edward Low, a man so vicious he tortured victims by slicing off an ear or nose and roasting them over a fire. “A greater monster,” one colonial official wrote, “never infested the seas.”

At-the-Point-of-a-Cutlass“Although my new book about Philip Ashton began as the story of a young Massachusetts fisherman who was captured by pirates in 1722 and then marooned on an uninhabited Caribbean island, Newport kept surfacing time and again in my research,” Flemming explains.

That’s not a big surprise. Newport was one of the five largest cities in colonial America in the 1700s and a major shipping center for much of the goods exported from the colonies and the Caribbean. When Atlantic piracy peaked in the early 1720s, there was no way Newport could escape the danger.

“In fact,” Flemming continues, “the very first vessels sent to chase down the pirate captain Edward Low in 1722 — barely two weeks after he struck out with his own crew of about 40 men — was from Newport. Low’s crew ransacked three vessels sailing just off the coast on Sunday, June 3, 1722, brutally wounding one Rhode Island captain, James Cahoon. Word of the attacks reached Newport the next morning, and a call to arms was sounded – ‘drums were ordered immediately to be beat about town for volunteers to go in quest of the pirates.’ By three o’clock that same day, two large sloops with 130 men and fifteen cannon between them had set out from Newport to search for Low’s crew.”

Almost a year to the day later, Captain Edward Low was back near Newport again. “This time, however, so was a more powerful adversary, the British warship HMS Greyhound,” Flemming said. “After a brutal, 12-hour battle at sea, one of Low’s two sloops was captured and all of the men aboard were brought back to Newport and put in jail. At their trial a month later, most of the men were convicted of being pirates. Twenty-six men were hanged on Gravelly Point in Newport on Friday, July 19, 1723 in what remains one of the largest mass executions in American history.”

Colony House wreaths2At the Point of a Cutlass takes place at the 1739 Colony House. Please RSVP to 401-841-8770. General admission costs $5 per person, $1 for NHS members, active duty military and students (ID or membership required). A book signing will follow the talk.

Beginning November 14th, the Historical Society jumps into the holidays with the start of its annual Holiday Lantern Tour program. Hear the history of early American holiday traditions and learn how Newporters recognized the holiday on The Holiday Histories Tour. “November is a great time to try this family-friendly tour before the winter weather sets in,” suggests Ingrid Peters, the Society’s Associate Director, who also manages the tour program. “Taking this walking tour has become its own tradition for many winter visitors. It’s a fun way to learn about past holiday celebrations in Newport as they prepare to celebrate this winter season,” Peters concludes.

The Holiday Histories Tour is offered on Fridays and Saturdays at 4:30pm beginning November 14th; and at the same time on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in December (excluding Christmas Day).

The Society offers several other December walking tours, such as Discover Colonial Newport in Winter (December 6, 13, 20 and 27 at 11am) and Rogues & Scoundrels Tour (December 26 & 29 at 11am).
Tours depart weather permitting from the Brick Market: Museum & Shop, 127 Thames Street, in Newport, and cost $15 per person, $10 for NHS members and active duty military with ID; $5 for children ages 5-12. Reservations required as space is limited: 401-841-8770.

Photo Credit: top left, Greg Flemming / at right: Newport Historical Society

Eleven October Events: Halloween Family Favorites

j. DiscoverNewport_pumpkin patchLooking for ways to celebrate Halloween with your littlest ghouls and witches? Here are some fun ways to enjoy the holiday- without too much of a scare!

Newport Art Museum Interactive Murder Mysteries, Historic Hauntings weekly through Oct. 25 (check website for details). “Our family-friendly, fast-paced 90-minute shows prove that no matter what the year or station in life, people are the same…” Be the first to solve the murder case.

Trinity’s Sixth Annual Pumpkin Patch Opens October 12. Open every day, rain or shine, Monday through Friday from 12pm to 6pm; Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm. Delicious home-made goodies, hot lunch (Saturdays & Sundays), fresh-popped popcorn, cider, and cold and hot drinks. Also: Mums, decorative cabbages, and fancy gourds to complete your fall décor. Fun for the whole family! Live music (Saturdays & Sundays), artisan craft vendors, picture-in-the-patch, and so much more! Costume Parade: Get your best outfit together and be on the patch Sunday, October 26.

Grimm’s Fairy Trail, October 17 and 18, specific tour times: E-mail ahead to reserve a time and enjoy actors performing fairytale favorites in a not-too-spooky way along Paradise Valley Park.

Bristol’s Audubon Environmental Education Center, October 18: Have you ever made a rolling pumpkin art masterpiece, played pumpkin ring toss or tried pumpkin stamping? Join us for a different kind of fall celebration and find out just how much fun a pumpkin can be.

Murder Mystery Dinner with Newport Children’s Theater, October 24 and 25, 7 p.m.: Reservation only. Enjoy dinner and a mystery that will be sure to intrigue and spook your family.

Friends of Ballard Park Halloween Event, October 25, 5 p.m.: A new tradition filled with fun and Halloween-themed movies. This free event offers a meet and greet with Newport firefighters and features two films to enjoy: Hocus Pocus and Halloween. Costumes are encouraged as there is a contest held to be judged by RI celebrity judges.

Escobar Farm’s Corn Maze Halloween Party, October 26, 11 a.m. – 4p.m.: Spend the day flaunting costumes and participating in games and fun around the corn maze. Rain date will be October 27.

Bristol’s Annual Halloween Walkabout, Sunday, October 26, 1-3 p.m.: Bring your children in their costumes downtown and stroll all2014maze the shops for an afternoon of trick-or-treating.

Carved in Stone Tour, readily available most dates: 90-minute walk dedicated to the Common Burying Ground. Hear tales of the deceased buried there, interesting marks on the tombstones and stories about the haunted happenings. May be appropriate for families with older children to enjoy.

Haunted Folklore at Rose Island, October 25, 4-6 p.m.: Travel on the Rum Runner II to Rose Island and learn about the hidden folklore there, travel through the abandoned barracks and explore the spooky lighthouse and paths. After the scaring is through, enjoy cider by the fire.

Olde Town Ghost Walk, readily available most dates: This attraction is more of a historical haunting experience. Travel the streets of Newport and hear spooky myths behind various landmarks.