02/25/17 6:00am
02/25/2017 6:00 AM

Hargraves

The first day in 1973 that my then-husband, Alex, and I arrived on the farm we’d bought in Cutchogue, on Long Island’s North Fork, to plant the region’s first vineyard, our neighbor Jeanie Zuhoski welcomed us on our long farm road bearing a home-baked pie. READ

03/30/15 1:51pm
03/30/2015 1:51 PM
The property includes mature vines producing pinot noir, merlot and chardonnay. (Credit: Town & Country Real Estate)

The property includes mature vines producing pinot noir, merlot and chardonnay. (Credit: Town & Country Real Estate)

One of Long Island’s pioneering wine families has sold nearly 90 acres of waterfront land in Cutchogue to a mystery buyer — including nearly 30 acres of mature vineyards — in an arrangement that will allow the family to retain control of those vines for nearly a decade.

The land in question amounts to just a small parcel of a vast amount of grape-producing acreage controlled by the Damianos family, which owns and operates about 130 vineyard acres for Duckwalk Vineyards as well as 360 acres for Long Island’s largest wine producer, Pindar Vineyards.

The move will not affect wine production, as the Damianos clan will maintain the land and harvest the grapes per a seven-year renewable lease, according to those involved in the deal.

Read more on northforker.com.

10/07/14 10:00am
10/07/2014 10:00 AM
(Credit: Douglas Elliman Courtesy Photo)

(Credit: Douglas Elliman Courtesy Photo)

It’s among the tiniest of vineyards on the North Fork, and it could be yours: The Hidden Vineyard in Calverton.

The 15-acre property has just seven acres of vines, but also a 4,500-square-foot custom colonial home and tasting room. The vineyard estate was built by the late Peter DiBernardi, the vineyard’s original owner and winemaker, who died in March.

Read more on northforker.com

09/01/14 8:49am
09/01/2014 8:49 AM
Grapes ripening at Clovis Point vineyard in Jamesport. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Grapes ripening at Clovis Point vineyard in Jamesport. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

While Long Island’s grapes weathered a harsh winter just fine, the unusually erratic and wet winter months upstate New York experienced have led to extreme losses of grapes across that region, putting the local commodity in high demand, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Read more at northforker.com.

07/12/14 8:00am
07/12/2014 8:00 AM
Marco and Ann Marie Borghese purchased their Cutchogue vineyard in 1999. (Credit: Jane Starwood, file)

Marco and Ann Marie Borghese purchased their Cutchogue vineyard in 1999. (Credit: Jane Starwood, file)

The untimely and tragic deaths of Ann Marie and Marco Borghese have me thinking about the passage of time, particularly insofar as the North Fork’s grape-growing/wine industry is concerned. To the best of my knowledge, the Borgheses were the first second-generation owners/winemakers/industry boosters to pass from the scene, which is an indicator, after a fashion, of just how long this industry has been around hereabouts. Their recent deaths have also caused me to reflect on the list of others who passed before them, which, again, is a reflection that a lot of years have gone by since Louisa and Alex Hargrave planted their first grapes here in the early 1970s. But first, a word about the Borgheses.  (more…)

08/26/13 11:00am
08/26/2013 11:00 AM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented at Saturday's charity fundraiser.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented at Saturday’s charity fundraiser.

More than 1,200 food and wine lovers, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, celebrated the 40th anniversary of Long Island Wine Country at the first Harvest East End ever hosted on the North Fork Saturday evening.

The three-and-a-half hour tasting at McCall Wines in Cutchogue stood as a celebration of the growth of a region now noted for its distinctive selection of food and wine, while also giving back to four non-profit organizations that ensure it stays fruitful: Group for the East End, Peconic Land Trust, East End Hospice and the Long Island Farm Bureau.

“Our wines have gained stature and quality and are now highly rated in top publications,” said Ron Goerler Jr., president of the Long Island Wine Council. “Similarly, with the bounty of our local farms and waters, the East End of Long Island has attracted world class culinary [experts].”

SEE PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT

Guests were given their own personal wine glass as they walked around the event, which was hosted on the South Fork in each of its first three years, to taste selections from 43 different local wineries offering more than 200 varieties of still, sparking and dessert wines. Accompanying the wine was cuisine from 34 local food purveyors – giving guests the ultimate tasting experience.

“This is just amazing,” said Carine Franchica, who was enjoying oysters with her husband, Jay. It was the first Harvest celebration the Mattituck couple had attended – and it was practically in their backyard.

“We walked here,” said Ms. Franchica, who lives off New Suffolk Avenue. When asked where the celebration belonged, she replied: “We like it on our side, because [most of] the wineries are here on the North Fork.”

Many North Fork vineyard representatives agreed, saying the move makes sense.

“It’s a celebration of everyone’s hard work,” said Monica Harbes of Harbes Farm & Vineyard, which opened 10 years ago. “It’s really an exciting industry to be involved in.”

Gov. Cuomo called the North Fork wine region “one of New York’s hidden treasures” and he credited a pair of East End legislators, Senator Ken LaValle and Assemblyman Fred Thiele, with  helping to “develop industries we believe we can nurture. The wine industries are those industries in New York.”

“We have invested in it and promoted it,” the governor said. “The industry is taking off like a rocket.”

A 30-second commercial promoting the wine production in New York State was premiered at the event. The spot is expected to run this fall throughout the region.

“Put tourism together with the wine industry, and they can grow an entire region,” Mr. Cuomo said. “And that’s what you’re seeing here on the North Fork of Long Island.”

Gov. Cuomo also presented McCall Wines owner Russ McCall with the Winery of the Year award his winery won at the New York Food & Wine Classc Aug. 13. It is presented to the winery recognized for the best showing based on the level and number of awards won from its wine entries.

The competition, which is run by the New York Wine & Grape Foundation was open to all of New York’s wineries, according to the non-profit trade association’s website. This year’s competition included 842 New York wines.

But the award was secondary Saturday to the McCall family, which was happy to be hosting such a major event.

“For us it’s amazing,” said Brewster McCall of the celebration. “To be able to carry on the legacy of what the Hargraves started is a gift to us. It’s an honor to have been able to host.”

Harvest East End is organized by the wine council and sponsored by Wine Enthusiast magazine with support from Merliance, the Long Island Merlot Alliance.

Mr. Goerler also recognized a pair of Times/Review contributors during Harvest East End— honoring Hargrave Vineyards co-founder Louisa Hargrave, for her vision in planting the island’s first vines, and chef John Ross, who helped ignite the local farm-to-table movement.

“These two people represent what the East End is today,” he said.

[email protected]

08/19/13 1:30pm
08/19/2013 1:30 PM
GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Inauguration Day partiers at Bedell Cellars, which provided wine for the inaugural luncheon in Washington, D.C.

GIANNA VOLPE FILE PHOTO | Vistors to the Bedell Cellars tasting room in Cutchogue in January.

Eight North Fork wineries can now add a L.I. Sustainable Wine logo to their 2012 vintages.

On Friday, environmental advocacy organization Group for the East End officially endorsed the work of Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing (LISW), a not-for-profit organization that provides education and certification for Long Island vineyards.

“We applaud the efforts of LISW in becoming the first vineyards in the eastern U.S. to earn certified sustainable status,” said Aaron Virgin, vice president of Group for the East End. “It couldn’t come at a better time as the Long Island wine industry celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

“This is the right direction the wine industry should be headed in.”

There are currently 10 “certified sustainable” vineyards on Long Island, eight of which are on the North Fork: Bedell Cellars, Harbes Family Vineyard, Martha Clara Vineyards, One Woman Wines & Vineyards, Palmer Vineyards, Roanoke Vineyards, Sannino Bella Vita Vineyard and Shinn Estate Vineyards. On the South Fork, Wolffer Estate Vineyard and Channing Daughters Winery earned the distinction.

Six North Fork vineyards that joined the LISW in 2013 and are working toward sustainability certification include Kontokosta Winery, Lieb Cellars, Mattebella Vineyards, Mudd Vineyards, Sparkling Pointe and Surrey Lane Vineyard.

LISW’s sustainability certification process is monitored by Allan Connell, former district conservationist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service. Mr. Connell oversees a checklist of nearly 200 sustainable grape growing practices.

According to LISW’s website, sustainable viticulture practices include science-based nutrition management to promote vine health and most importantly limit or prevent nitrate leaching into groundwater, how fertilizers are stored, and vine size measurements to help adjust and limit nitrogen use.

“The announcement of our first certified sustainable vineyards strengthens the ecological leadership and social responsibility of the Long Island wine region,” said Richard Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue. “The effort of creating meaningful, rigorous sustainable farming standards for grape growers proves that Long Island wineries are serious about making world-class wines that are ecologically sensitive.”

[email protected]

08/04/13 8:00am
08/04/2013 8:00 AM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | A reality television show led a Times/Review intern to ask around this week about the silly things tourists say.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | A reality television show led a Times/Review intern to ask around this week about the silly things tourists say.

“We’re gonna go to the wine vineyards,” the young woman said.

“Where?” her friend asked.

“In, like, North Fork,” she responded.

This was an exchange between two stars on the last episode of the reality TV show “Princesses: Long Island,” the latest offering from Bravo. Though the girls on the show hail from Nassau County, they ventured out to the Sparkling Pointe vineyard in Southold for the July 28 episode.

Reactions to our homeland were varied: One girl compared the vineyard to the Garden of Eden, while another actually relieved herself in between the rows of grapes.

As drama ensued, one character cried to her parents on the phone, asking if there were an airport nearby so she could take a private jet back to her hometown. As she started walking to Route 48, her friend screamed, “Don’t walk toward the freeway!”

Finally, as the crying girl explained to the camera that she just wanted to leave, she lamented, “But we’re in the middle of nowhere.”

The princesses’ take on the North Fork can’t help but evoke memories of the different ways tourists react to our communities on Long Island’s East End.

It inspired me to ask around this week uncover some of the funny, absurd and borderline insulting things folks in the local tourist industry have heard out-of-towners say.

I left out their names and kept their businesses out of the piece in an effort to encourage them to share the really good stuff.

ON THE FARM

“This one guy asked us, ‘How many seeds are in your tomatoes?’ We said we really didn’t know, so he had us cut them open and look. He said he liked to eat his tomatoes like apples and didn’t like a lot of seeds.”

farm stand employee, Mattituck

“My friend works as a waitress out here and one time a little kid ordered a glass of milk to drink and his dad said to him, ‘It’s gonna take a little while because they have to go out back and milk the cow. We’re in the country and that’s how they do it out here.’”

restaurant worker, Riverhead

“One time, this lady came in and she looks outside and then at me and goes, ‘Are the animals out there real?’ I just stared at her for a minute because I was thinking, ‘Is this lady for real?’ Then I just said, ‘Yes.’ ”

farmer, Cutchogue

Out to eat

“Once this guy came in at like 11:55 p.m., we close at midnight, and he was sitting at the bar. He looked at me and said, ‘Hey, you, call a cab would ya?’ The bartender was like, ‘This is the North Fork; we don’t have cabs.’ ”

restaurant worker, Southold

“While I was working, tourists came in and sat at one of the tables up against the wall that used to be a booth. After I cleared their dishes and was at the counter, just like seven feet away, one woman very loudly said, ‘Service these days. Whatever happened to serve from the left, take from the right?’ which was physically impossible without taking their plates through the window outside. Then the other woman said, ‘I guess they don’t do that out here.’ ”

restaurant worker, Southold Town

“We get lavish requests for sandwiches sometimes. When we ring them up, people are always surprised and comment how the Hamptons is so much more expensive. They are also always asking where the wineries are and where ‘Herbie’s Farm’ is.”

deli worker, Mattituck

OUT AND ABOUT

“One time my friend and I were at Scoops eating ice cream and a group of tourists came up to us and were whispering really loudly, like ‘Oh my gosh, they must be locals’ and gawking at us like we were animals at the zoo.”

Cutchogue resident

“I was on the Cross Sound Ferry in June and a lady was telling her son to wave goodbye to the Hamptons.”

store clerk, Mattituck

Of course this column is meant to be funny. I recognize the tourism economy is a great thing for my hometown and most of the folks who come out here get what we’re all about.

Just do me a favor, though, next time you come visit: Try not to pee in the vineyard.

Ms. Leaden is a student at Manhattan College. She lives in Cutchogue and worked at Times/Review Newsgroup this summer as an intern on a New York Press Association scholarship. She can be reached at [email protected].

06/08/13 3:00pm
06/08/2013 3:00 PM
North Fork Wine Trail sign in Riverhead

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | A North Fork Wine Trail sign at the intersection of the Main Road and County Road 105 in Aquebogue.

The North Fork ‍Wine ‍Trail might be getting longer.

Last Wednesday the New York State Senate passed a bill sponsored by Senator Ken LaValle that proposes extending the North Fork ‍Wine ‍Trail about nine miles to Orient Point.

If the legislation passes in the Assembly, the ‍wine ‍trail will continue to the end of Route 25 in Orient. The official ‍trail currently begins at Edwards Avenue in Calverton and ends at the junction of Routes 48 and 25 in Greenport.

“North Fork wineries are an economic engine for our region,” Mr. LaValle said. “Extending the North Fork ‍Wine ‍Trail will help boost agritourism, which will benefit our farmers and wineries.”

The bill also calls for the creation of a road sign at exit 73 of the Long Island Expressway notifying drivers that the ‍wine‍trail is accessible from that exit. A sign is already in place at exit 71.

Ron Goerler Jr., president of the Long Island ‍Wine Council, said not placing a sign at exit 73 was an “oversight.”

“If you take exit 73, you’re right at Tanger Outlets,” Mr. Goerler said. “It’s a straight shot onto the North Fork. Tanger brings 13 or 14 million people a year and to have a sign stating the ‍wine industry is just ahead brings more awareness to the region.”

Steve Bate, executive director of the ‍wine council, said the organization doesn’t have revenue fi gures for North Fork wineries but estimates that the region’s more than 50 wineries attract 1.2 million visitors a year — a number that proponents of the bill hope will only increase.

“Senator LaValle has always been a huge supporter of the local ‍wine industry,” Mr. Bate said. “He has helped us with many important pieces of state legislation over the years. This new ‍wine ‍trail bill is just the latest example of how he helps enhance our wineries’ contribution to the local economy.”

[email protected]

02/23/13 7:00am
02/23/2013 7:00 AM
Greenport Harbor

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Kaitlen Berry, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s tasting room manager, pulls a pint.

As the East End continues to polish its image as a leading wine region, a new effort’s a-brewing to turn the region into a destination for craft beer enthusiasts.

Last month, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named the North and South Forks one of the world’s top wine destinations for 2013. In concert with that, two new Riverhead breweries are in the works, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company is expanding, and local farmers have begun to grow hops, an important ingredient in beer.

“If you have three, four or five breweries out here, then people can make a day trip out of coming to the area for craft beer,” said brewer Greg Doroski of Greenport Harbor Brewing Company. “Its becoming a destination similar to the vineyards.”

Mr. Doroski noted that the expansion of the local beer industry is similar to what’s happened in Brooklyn, with its trendy craft beer scene. And, he added, Greenport and Riverhead seem to be developing similarly to the way Brooklyn has been gentrifying.

“Growing up out here in Greenport, I can notice the difference. Greenport and Riverhead used to be a little more rough around the edges, but things are changing,” he said. “In Riverhead you have the hotel, the aquarium, the apartments, Long Ireland Beer Company, The Riverhead Project and out here you’ve always had Bruce’s, but now you have places like The Blue Canoe and First and South — there’s more high-end farm-to-table stuff going on.”

When it comes to brewing, Riverhead has an advantage over the rest of the North Fork, Mr. Doroski said, because it offers sewer connections.

“Having sewers makes it an easier place to open breweries,” he said. “There’s also more commercial industrial space.”

Riverhead’s Crooked Ladder Brewing Company is well on its way to opening its doors. Digger O’Dell is about to install a new 16-beer tap system to serve Crooked Ladder and other local brews, and the people behind Moustache Brewing Company recently entered into a lease for a commercial building in Polish Town.

Does Riverhead believe it’s on its way to grabbing the craft beer crown?

“Absolutely,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said. “One hundred percent. There’s a method to our madness about how the downtown is coming up. Becoming a craft brewing mecca will have a positive effect on both Polish Town and downtown. I love the wineries and I do like my chianti or a glass of merlot, but I’m a beer drinker so I concentrate on what I know.”

Mr. Walter said he is happy to see the camaraderie between Long Ireland, an established local beer maker, and brewers just starting out. Long Ireland, which opened in 2011, seems to be thriving, he said.

The Central Islip couple behind Moustache brewery, Matt and Lauri Spitz, said they chose Riverhead over other Long Island locations because of the town’s encouragement.

“Riverhead was one of the only towns to welcome us with open arms,” said Mr. Spitz. “A lot of the towns we talked to weren’t sure what to do with a brewery.” But Riverhead, he said, “is trying to revitalize and pull small businesses in, which is great.”

Through Kickstarter, an online fundraising website, the couple pulled in more than $30,000 in start-up capital for their brewery, which Ms. Spitz said she hopes will contribute to the “blooming” of the East End as a craft beer destination.

“Now we have two breweries and a brew pub in Riverhead,” said Ms. Spitz. “Between that and the wineries, it’s going to be great.”

Growing along with the craft beer industry is its sister business, cultivating hops. Hops, the flower of the Humulus lupulus plant, are used in the brewing process to offset the sweetness of malt sugars and add aroma to beer. A century ago New York produced most of the hops grown in the U.S. Today, that distinction is shared by the Pacific Northwest and Midwest.

Wading River farmer John Condzella wants to change that and make the burgeoning local beer industry even more local.

However, the fourth generation farmer had a difficult time making the most of his farm’s first 800-pound hop harvest this past spring using nothing but human hands.

“We were even having hops-induced nightmares from the picking,” he said, laughing.

And because Mr. Condzella’s hops plants are still maturing, he estimates they will produce between 1,200 and 1,500 pounds next season.

“It takes about an hour for someone to harvest one plant and we’re going to be doubling our hop yard this spring,” he said. He plans to plant an acre’s worth of Willamette, Perle, and Fuggle hops varieties to bring his hop yard to two acres.

He is currently raising money through Kickstarter to import a Wolf WHE 140 Hopfen Pflückmaschine harvester from Germany for cooperative use among North Fork growers.

One of these growers is Peconic hops farmer Andrew Tralka.

“We just got our license for Farm to Pint,” said Mr. Tralka. “We hope to educate people about hops, to show them what they look like, and the North Fork is the perfect spot for it.”

A harvester would mean more local hops, enabling the growing number of local breweries to make a wet-hopped ale, which requires fresh hops.

“The Wolf has the ability to harvest an acre of hops in an eight-hour day with two people operating the machine,” Mr. Condzella said. “If hand-picking, it would take about 500 hours for the same two people.”

Mr. Condzella said he is in a rush to raise $27,000 to bring the harvester to the North Fork and eliminate “a serious barrier to producing local hops. We want to create a sense of urgency because we feel that sense of urgency and want to show we’re very serious in what we’re doing,” he said. “We want to show the local beer movement is strong. It’s an exciting time for craft and local beer on Long Island. The people involved are very passionate.”

[email protected]