Long Island!

New York: 21 August – 28 August 2010

Raphael Winery, showing you a great Long Island tasting room!

Coming to the US’s 3rd largest grape growing state, New York had many surprises in store for us. With many different wine denominations and regions in the state, we had the help of Uncork New York wine association who narrowed things down for our short visit. Together, we opted to see the Long Island north fork wineries causing a stir on the east coast for their rich and complex Bordeaux style red blends, and then headed over to the Finger Lakes to see just what these Riesling giants were all about.

Here on Long Island, where most wineries are converted from old potato farms, we learned just why the region had become so recognized for growing red varietals, being the sunniest spot in the state of New York, being protected by large bodies of water on three sides which moderate temperature extremes, and with it sitting on Glacial sandy soils with great drainage. The Peconic Bay and Long Island Sound which help with bettering the weather are also thought to result in the distinct saline minerality that is found in the region’s white wines, and between both Red and White, Long Island is home to over 30 different grape varietals contributing to the island’s success.

We had a great tour of the region alongside the crowds coming in for tastings too, and saw perhaps what is recognized as being the top of what this tiny long Island has achieved with great success. We owe a special thanks to Uncork New York headquartered in the Finger Lakes, the Long Island Wine Council, and to all the wineries which we visited!:

Bedell Cellars: 30 years old and counting, this little winery has been receiving many awards from left to right, all of top writers. Recently (2000) changing hands to Michael Lynne (producer of The Lord of the Rings), this winery has formed a passion for art which is reflected in its unique labels, and is performing leaps and bounds to push the Long Island wine industry forward.

Castello di Borghese: With Italian noble roots dating back to ninth century Italy, Marco and Ann Marie Borghese created their ‘Castello’ in 1999 by purchasing the oldest winery on Long Island’s North Fork. Here Marco is showing Anja the vineyards, a great view from the tasting room set up with cafĂ©-like seating and decorated with passing art expositions.

Jamesport Vineyards: Another well established landmark of Long Island, starting in 1981 this 60 acre estate now produces about 7,000 cases of wines from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Semillon and Syrah. It is built in a 150 year old barn that was originally part of an apple farm, and is doing a lot to think green, as we saw in the tasting room their bottle recycle program (bring an empty bottle of wine from any winery, get a discount on theirs. Great!).

Macari Vineyards: Seen here is the view on the winery from the tasting room, with the flags of interns past and present doing their best to make Macari Vineyards a fantastic wine producer. Walk into their tasting room and immediately with this you will feel the ambiance that will make for a great tasting, and videos describing their Biodynamic belief for vineyard management which was present since their start in 1995. We truly appreciated the Macari vision for land management, and hope to come back to see their cows, goats and donkeys which heard about!

Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards: The name says it all, these vineyards are guarded by the watchful eyes of the soaring Osprey. Osprey’s Dominion does a great job at contributing to make Long Island the place to be in New York by adding events and concert nights throughout various times of the year, a trend that happens throughout several wineries of the region and livens up the winter months. Seeing the winery we were most interested by hearing about their Carmenere wine that had just been released in 2007, not a common thing for the area!

Palmer: About 25 years old, Palmer winery has become an important player in the Long Island wine scene. We had a great visit with Spanish winemaker Miguel Martin, who is shown here giving Georges some lessons in trellising and grafting. Miguel comes from a great background for making wine on Long Island, not necessarily because New York is at the same latitude as Barcelona, but because he worked in other cold climate regions in Chile, and has taken the time to understand what the climate here can bring to the grapes.

Paumanok Vineyards: Definitely one of the warmest and friendliest wineries, and one of the most inviting and receptive to our project, Paumanok’s owners Charles and Ursula Massoud along with their son winemaker Kareem shared with us a great tasting of their fantastic wines along with matching local cheeses. And all of this on the top terrace of their tasting room overlooking a sun setting over the vines. Their support of our project is no doubt correlated to their greater vision of pushing the industry forward to being more world friendly and sustainable/ecological. Drop on by and Kareem can draw you in to the screw cap / cork debate and tell you why restaurants serving wine by the glass can leave a much smaller carbon and waste footprint by having wineries deliver their wine on tap. A top winery of the area, their estate wines spoke for themselves and we will be very happy to feature their donation in our auction!

Pindar Vineyards: As you can see above, Pindar’s tasting room was packed upon our arrival. Apparently a common trend as this is a top place to be, with wines showing it with award after award. Started in the early 1980s, Pindar is named after a poet who lived from 522-443 B.C., and who spoke his famous words: Let these deep draughts of enchanted wine, life me in soarings high and far. Sounds great.

Raphael: Established in 1996, Raphael uses hand harvesting, spontaneous fermentation, and like many of Long Island, sustainable farming practices. Named after the father of owner John Petrocelli, the winery is quite possibly one of the most beautiful on Long Island, designed from inspirations of monasteries of Italy. Partially built underground, the winery can make use of gravity flow and natural cooling, and is definitely a sight to see and attraction on Long Island!


~Anja and Georges

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