Preparing for the Taste: The Terrace highlights Westport Rivers wines at a winemaker’s dinner

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A selection of wines from Westport Rivers will complement a dinner from Chef Justin Melnick. – Photo courtesy Nancy Tutko

Bill Russell, winemaker at Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery, teams up with Justin Melnick, executive chef at the Terrace at the Charlotte Inn, for a special dinner on Wednesday, June 17, just in time to help kick off the 30th annual Taste of the Vineyard celebration.

According to a press release, Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery has been crafting artisanal wines just north of Buzzards Bay since 1989, but the Russell family commitment to winemaking dates back four generations, to upstate New York. Now they operate New England’s largest vineyard on a historic 400-acre farm on the southeast coast of Massachusetts.

“Most people believe it’s nothing short of emboldened madness to grow vinifera wine in Massachusetts,” says Mr. Russell. “But this is a wonderful location for growing the kind of wine we love: gloriously aromatic and deliciously crisp.”

The Russell family’s vision, along with sustainable farming practices and minimalist winemaking techniques, has produced such award winners as the sparkling Brut Cuvée “RJR” (Gold Medal, 1990, the American Wine Society), the Blanc de Blancs (Gold Medal, 2012, Grand Harvest Awards), and the well-reviewed Grace Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, and more. Farmer’s Fizz, a prosecco-style sparkling wine, has become one of Westport Rivers’ most popular creations.

Mr. Russell plans to bring Farmer’s Fizz and four other favorites (2007 Brut RJR, 2014 Cinco Caes, 2012 Pinot Noir, and 2013 Grace Chardonnay) to Martha’s Vineyard, pairing them with Chef Melnick’s broiled Katama Bay oysters, Cajun-style sea scallops, and braised veal.

“Our wines display all the world-class characteristics we sought,” says Mr. Russell. “Our soils are dark, rich New England loam on well-drained gravel. Our climate is cool but moderated by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, and the rainfall is perfect for farming grapes.”

The Russell family includes Bill’s parents, Bob and Carol, who were inspired to follow the tradition of Carol’s father and grandfather, award-winning winemakers from upstate New York’s Germania Wine Cellars, and his brother, Bob, who plants and tends the vines. The family also founded the Buzzards Bay Brewery. Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery offers tastings, tours, and summer concerts, with more information available at westportrivers.com.

Tickets are $125 per person for this special dinner. The full menu is available at theterracemv.com, under special events. Call 508-627-6227 for reservations.