Your Town, Your Life: Johnston - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Your Town, Your Life: Johnston

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By: Alexandra Cowley

In this weeks Your Town, Your Life we take you to Johnston. A town that's known for housing Rhode Island's only landfill. But, it's time the town gets some recognition for more than the landfill's odor that sometimes overwhelms its residents.

Did you know there's a vineyard in Johnston? It's run by a retiree with a passion for great wine. 65 sprawling acres overlooking Moswansicut Lake, rows of grape vines, chickens, and a beautiful wine tasting room. All this at Johnston's Verde Vineyards.

The man behind it all is Jim Verde.

"I'm the owner and dishwasher, or glass washer, I do it all, but I depend on the kindness of friends and family to run the vineyard," Verde smiled. 

Verde is a native Rhode Islander. One of the founding faculty members at CCRI, where he taught biology. He took over the land from his father. He didn't plant his first grapes until 2002. His first harvest a few years later.

"I guess it's a fantasy that I have, otherwise I wouldn't put up with all the negativity about the grapes," Verde said. 

The fantasy of having his own vineyard, isn't an easy one to keep up with. That's what Verde is referring to when he talks badly about the grapes. New England's climate isn't the best for harvesting grapes, but Verde enjoys the challenge.

"It keeps me busy as a retiree. So it keeps the psychiatrist away, in fact I think it might be cheaper than a psychiatrist," he laughed.

From harvest to bottle, Verde does it all at his Johnston vineyard. His two wines, one red and one white, are award winning. The St. Croix is a medium bodied, red hybrid. The Cayuga white is comparable to a Riesling. It's dry, medium bodied.

"There's nothing like picking the grapes and an hour later crushing them and making the wine," Verde said.

The vineyard is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11AM to 5PM.

Johnston also has quite a few farms. Many located off on Plainfield Pike. One of them is Pezza Farms. It's been family run for four generations, since 1947. The farm sells flowers, plants, and soils for gardening. In the summer, they grow crops. They also have miniature horses and sheep on the land, fun for the kids.

Shelley Pezza says, "They're more than welcome to feed them and pet them. In the Fall, we do the hayrides and field trips and everything else."

Johnston is also where a historic home is located. Built by farmer Richard Clemence back in 1691. It's one of the oldest houses in Rhode Island. It's called the Clemence–Irons House. It's a rare example of the types of houses built in the 17th century called a "stone ender." One wall in the house is made up of a large stone chimney.

Tune in next week to see where John DeLuca is heading. 

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