Newport, Rhode Island
Newport Vineyards, owned by brothers John and Paul Nunes, is more than just a vineyard.
Newport Vineyards prides itself on being a beverage and culinary destination that blends together award-winning wine, fresh craft beer, farm to table dining experiences and unique events situated on over 100 acres of preserved farmland just minutes from Newport, Rhode Island.
Carrying on the family legacy
Farming has been in the Nunes family since 1917, when Francisco Nunes, John and Paul’s great-grandfather, acquired the stone-wall-enclosed Bailey Farm on Wyatt Road. Nearly 70 years later, retired Navy Captain Alexander planted the first vines and in 1995, John and Paul took over from Captain Alexander, creating Newport Vineyards.
From there, the Nunes brothers expanded their land by acquiring historic Perry Farm in 1998, which boasted rich soil from over 50 years of potato farming. In 2002, the 55-acre Nunes Farm was placed in perpetual preservation through a partnership between the Nunes family, the Aquidneck Land Trust and the State of Rhode Island.
Over the next 20 years, and under the guidance of Winemaker George Chelf, John and Paul have worked to perfect their portfolio of wines and become a tourist destination.
Growing the operation
In 2012, on the heels of Newport Vineyards’ 20th Anniversary, John and Paul embarked on a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion of the 30,000+ square foot building that once housed their father’s Chrysler dealership, former local restaurants and more. From 2014 to 2018, they opened Brix Restaurant, a new winery tank room, a new marketplace store, a new tasting room and events venue and finally, Taproot Brewing Company.
Over the last several years the (new) Newport Vineyards has become a renowned wine, culinary, craft beer and events destination. Following another land acquisition in 2018, Newport Vineyards now boasts over 100-acres of farmland, preserved for generations to come.
Today, Newport Vineyards hosts tours, wine tastings, yoga classes, festivals, foodie dining and live music for the nearly 4 million tourists who visit Newport each year. John and Paul feel lucky to be located so near a tourist hotspot, referring to their operation as “agritourism at its finest.”
“They want to see and taste. They want to know everything about your operation,” John said about the vineyard visitors. “We really don't have what they call a back of house here. Everything is exposed to the visitor and that's what we like.”
Relationship with Farm Credit
In order to grow in the ways that they have, John and Paul had to find a financial partner that could provide the support they needed. That’s when they turned to Farm Credit.
“The relationship with Farm Credit over the years has been a terrific two-way street. We've grown with them and they've grown with us,” John said. “Without the capital from Farm Credit and the way the relationship has worked, it would have been a little bit more of a challenge. We're happy to be here today.”
Agriculture is a unique business, functioning in cycles much different than those of other businesses. Farm Credit’s familiarity with agriculture has proved vital for the Nunes brothers. “Farm Credit understands the challenges with agriculture and the cycles that you might go through,” John said.