Sunday, February 3, 2013

Shop Local ~ Shelalara Vineyards and Winery ~ Coventry

Shelalara Vineyards and Winery
21-B Reservoir Rd.
Coventry, Rhode Island

My good friend G and I went out for a tour of the Shelalara winery and wine tasting. The tours are offered every weekend, and include the tasting and a wine glass.

The winery building is pretty nondescript. We were told that there's a new, larger sign coming that will be easier to see from the road.

Front door by I {heart} Rhody

You enter through the tasting room, a large area with a bar and lots of tables for groups of friends or acquaintances to settle in, stocked with cheese and crackers.

Tasting room by I {heart} Rhody

We had the tour first, led by the winemaker, Andrew Gold, who is also the owner's son. The facility, which is about half of the entire space, was much smaller than I expected.
The Shelalara winemaker discusses his craft by I {heart} Rhody

My last tour of a winery had been in Napa more than 20 years ago. I remember enormous barrels and dark wood. This place seemed tiny, and laboratory clean and bright. But the winemaker definitely knows his trade, and explained to us that oak barrels are now passe.

For an oak flavor, oak tanks are inserted during the process.

Tanks by I {heart} Rhody

The water used in the process is filtered back down to potable water and used to water the fields.

They do their own bottling, including specialty and vanity labels. The machines weren't running at the time, but the winemaker walked us through the process.

Bottling machine by I {heart} Rhody

Then it was back to the tasting room for samples of wines. Shelalara brings in wines from around the world as well as producing their own.

There was a California Sauvignon Blanc with a sharp smell and grassy taste. A California Merlot with a thick, oaky flavor, a Rosso Grande from Italy that was vinegary to smell, but had a sweet, fruity taste and a smooth texture.

Shelalara is known for their fruit-infused wines. They come in strawberry, which I thought tasted a little musty, but light and sweet. Watermelon seemed to have more of a melon scent than taste. It was sweet, but didn't taste specifically of watermelon to me. Pomegranate Wildberry was my personal favorite. It was sweet, light and fruity. Green Apple was my next favorite. I'm usually not a fan of green apple, but this was light, crisp and flavorful. Passion Peach brought me back to Bartles & Jaymes wine coolers, when peach was my flavor of choice. Tropical Calypso was a mix of pineapple, guava, coconut and banana. I felt it was too sweet, and nonspecifically flavored.

During the tasting, we got the opportunity to meet the owner, Sheila Gold, and her other son, Jason, who handles PR. They talked excitedly about their plans for the space, including a big screen tv for events and to watch the winemaking process as it happens.

All the fruit infused wines can be used in a slush machine, which was our first experience with them. They'd make a wonderful summer drink.

At the end, we were presented with an "OMG Chocolate Covered Strawberry," which was the strawberry wine as a slush, mixed with half and half and chocolate syrup. Served with whipped cream and a splash of Wildberry, it was decadent and delicious.

I ended up buying a bottle of the Wildberry ($15). We were sent home with a recipe to make the OMG Chocolate Covered Strawberry, (very easy. Just freeze the wine, let it melt enough that you can shake it up in a mixer or blender, add the cream and chocolate, shake again, pour and serve). I can officially report that it works just as well with the Wildberry wine.

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