After weeks of voting, and thousands of votes cast over six rounds, our Summer Guide Challenge came down to a battle of old vs. new, venerable vs. upstart.
And the upstart won.
Defying the centuries of history behind the Bristol Fourth of July Parade, and the multitudes who turn out each year for WaterFire Providence and the Pawtucket Red Sox, Foster’s little Nickle Creek Vineyard took the final round of the Challenge. The PawSox finished second and WaterFire third.
“Are you serious?!” co-owner Sheri O’Connor gasped when we called the winery Wednesday to deliver the news. “Oh … my … God! I am in great shock.
“I swear, my husband and I never even expected to win the first round, because we were up against some real heavyweight vineyards.” But win they did, knocking out Del’s, Iggy’s Doughboys and the Matunuck Oyster House in the next round as well.
O’Connor, 42, and her husband, Steven O’Connor, 45, opened the winery at 12 King Rd. in 2012 and named it after their sons, Nicholas and Kyle. Steven is the winemaker (when he’s not at his day job working for Pfizer), and Sheri takes care of the vineyard and home-schools the kids.
They now sell 1,800 bottles a year in a lovely, low-key atmosphere, serving a loyal clientele who put them over the top. As they reminded their customers to vote via social media, we could see people responding: “I voted.”
“I guess I do have a loyal following,” Sheri O’Connor said Wednesday. “And it’s an honor.”
On Twitter: @AlanRosenbergPJ