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Sitting near the vines, glass in hand, to watch the sunset

Posted by Ellen Bhang  August 4, 2013 08:23 AM

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If you've ever strolled through a vineyard at sunset, you know how stunning the view can be. Combine vistas of vines with food, wine, and music, and you have everything you need for a sublime summer evening.

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On a recent Friday, we fled the city to picnic and listen to music at Westport Rivers, located on the Coastal Wine Trail in Southeastern Massachusetts. This is the sixth year that the Russell family, which owns and operates the winery, has held the Sunset Music series. "It started as a way to bring together the local community to enjoy the beautiful sun as it sets over the vineyard while listening to talented local performers," says Alan Stewart of Westport Rivers. "It has grown over the years. People come from as far away as southern New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Western Massachusetts." The cost is $10 per carload.

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Early in the evening, we see the grounds already packed with friends, families and couples. Blankets, lawn chairs, and coolers seem to cover every square inch of the expansive lawn. The picnic pros have brought low portable tables on which to set their feasts. There's plenty of wine and food to buy. At a table set up under the trees, we order the winery's pinot noir rosé, then walk over to where Cuttyhunk Shellfish Farms is shucking clams (the oysters sold out within the first 30 minutes). We settle on our blanket and make new friends with the couples behind us. One fellow is munching on a burger -- Little Compton Catering is grilling on-site. As the band begins to play Americana and folk-rock, some couples get up to dance. One dad bounces his young son in his arms. As the setting sun casts its glow over the crowds and rows of lush vines, Bill Russell, Westport Rivers' winemaker, is beaming. "Everyone just comes for a good time," he says.

At Truro Vineyards of Cape Cod, you can attend the Wednesday night series called WAAM (wine, art, appetizers, and music). Every evening sells out; the cost is $35 per person. "People come right when the sun is setting and they see all that gorgeous light. It's a whole sensory experience," says Nicole Gelinas. She thinks getting away to sip wine and eat farm-to-table fare under the open-sided pavillion is just what people want. Each WAAM features small plates from a local chef paired with vineyard wines. Recently, 75 guests sipped glasses of vignoles, a semi-sweet white, alongside striped bass ceviche, while listening to a jazz and blues duo. Events include a pop-up gallery featuring local visual artists -- a sculptor one night, a landscape artist the next. As Gelinas says, "It's food for the senses."

Sunset Music at Westport Rivers, 417 Hix Bridge Road, Westport, 508-636-3423, www.westportrivers.com, through September 14. Wednesday night WAAM at Truro Vineyards, 11 Shore Road, Route 6A, North Truro, 508-487-6200, www.trurovineyardsofcapecod.com, reservations a must, through Aug. 28.

Ellen Bhang

About By the Glass

Ellen Bhang writes about food and wine and reviews Cheap Eats restaurants for the Globe. Wine is the focus of her degree in the Gastronomy master's program at Boston University. She can be reached at bytheglass@globe.com.

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