01/20/13 10:07am
01/20/2013 10:07 AM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Papo Vazquez Pirate Troubadors performing at Raphael during Jazz on the Vine 2012.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Papo Vazquez Pirate Troubadors performing at Raphael during Jazz on the Vine 2012.

The 2013 edition of the Winterfest Jazz on the Vine series kicks off February 8. Tickets to the concert events are $20.

Check out the complete schedule below:

A complete list of events for Long Island’s 2013 Jazz on the Vine Winterfest concert series

01/10/13 5:00pm
01/10/2013 5:00 PM

Here’s something to warm you up for the winter: The North Fork of Long Island now has something in common with Rioja, Spain and Danube, Austria. All three regions were included in Wine Enthusiast’s recent list of the Top 10 Wine Destinations in the World for 2013.

The news comes three months after travel company TripAdvisor named Long Island one of the top five wine destinations in the country.

“You couldn’t ask for more positive news starting off 2013 than being named one of the world’s top ten wine destinations,” said Ron Goerler, president of the Long Island Wine Council and owner of Jamesport Vineyards. “It’s a shot in the arm this area needs right now … after Sandy, things got very quiet out here.”

But Mr. Goerler said with the approaching Winterfest, the North Fork’s annual jazz and wine festival, things will quickly heat up in North Fork wine region.

“As president of the Long Island Wine Council, I couldn’t be more excited for 2013,” he said.

Founding winemaker Kip Bedell of Bedell Cellars in Southold, was singing the same tune. As someone who has been making wine in the region for more than three decades, he said he “felt all along that this region has a potential to make world class wines, though like any region, we had a lot to learn and much has changed and will change in the vineyards in order to reach that potential.”

See the complete list of wine destinations by clicking here.

01/09/13 4:30pm
01/09/2013 4:30 PM

Bedell Cellars’s 2009 Merlot will be served at President Barrack Obama’s inauguration luncheon Jan. 21.

The presidential inaugural luncheon is a tradition that dates back to 1867, but this year’s bipartisan breaking of bread between the United States Congress and Supreme Court will feature something entirely new – Long Island wine.

Bedell Cellars’ 2009 merlot, a lauded local wine, will be served with bison at the Jan. 21 luncheon, which will celebrate the new year and the beginning of President Barack Obama’s second term.

Bedell’s road from its Southold vineyard to the president’s palate began at New York Farm Day, according to winery CEO Trent Preszler.

“[It’s] an annual event held in Washington D.C. featuring New York agricultural products,” Mr. Preszler said. “It’s all thanks to New York senior senator Charles Schumer (D – N.Y.) and Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. We’ve been working on this for several months now and are proud to finally be able to share the news with the world.”

The CEO, who holds a doctorate in viticulture, said merlots are historically important to Bedell, but that 2009’s vintage is ideal for the traditional toast as a wine that’s “truly expressive of the New York winemaker.”

Founding winemaker Kip Bedell said the vintage is a “classic Long Island merlot” with “ripe tannins and a beautiful balance between fruit and acidity.” The quality of the wine, he said, speaks not only to the crop, but to a successful winemaking style.

“It’s got beautiful fruit characteristics, though 2009 wasn’t as hot as the following year,” he said. “In almost any given year, we can make pretty nice wine. Once the grapes get up to the winemaker, it’s about directing those grapes into the best wine you can make with them. If there’s not a great year with tons of color and tremendous acidity in the fruit, there are ways to make the wine balanced and drinkable, without, say, aging it in oak for a long time so it comes out tasting like a toothpick.”

Mr. Bedell said the 2009 merlot, which has netted Bedell Cellars numerous awards since its release, is a fine choice for the celebration and should make for a “delicious” pairing with the bison.

“Serving Long island’s own Bedell Cellars merlot at the Inaugural luncheon shines a spotlight on one of New York’s world-class wine industry,” Senator Schumer noted in a press release this week. “President Obama, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, the Supreme Court, and the Cabinet will all get a taste of Long Island’s finest with the addition of Bedell Cellars. I’m pleased to be able to showcase a fantastic New York company, one of many wineries that strengthen our New York’s economy.”

[email protected]

11/19/12 6:00am
11/19/2012 6:00 AM

Saveur, a New York City-based gourmet food magazine, recently published a list of “nine great Long Island wines.”

The Island’s North and South Forks, where the vineyards are, benefit from sea breezes that keep temperatures moderate, protecting grapes from late frost and overripening, the article reads.

Chosen among the wines are bottles from Paumanok, Shinn Estate, Palmer, Lenz, Macari, Bedell, Wolffer, Anthony Nappa and Channing Daughters.

The piece includes a quote from Mike Mraz of North Fork Table and Inn in Southold.

Read the full article by clicking here

09/30/12 12:00pm
09/30/2012 12:00 PM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Some North Fork wineries are beginning to feature larger bottles, as detailed in a recent New York Times article.

Bigger bottles are more expensive and thus harder to sell. That’s the reason most Long Island vineyards say they don’t produce larger bottles of wine, known as magnums.

But that’s not to say no local wineries sell wine by the larger bottle size.

The New York Times recently featured several local wineries that sell wine larger bottles of wine, including Pellegrini Vineyards in Cutchogue, which sells a liter bottle.

Read the Times story by clicking here

08/01/12 12:00pm
08/01/2012 12:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | NY76.0844.24 makes a top-ranked floral, muscat wine, according to Cornell scientists. So what would you name it?

Love wine? Want to help name a new variety of grape?

Here’s your chance.

Cornell University is asking the public to help them name two new varieties of grape from their breeding program set to be released next year.

Grape breeder Bruce Reisch is the man behind the new varieties, including a cold-hardy white wine grape and an organic dark red one, currently named NY76.0844.24 and NY95.0301.01, respectively.

Mr. Reisch said the name needs to stand out among the 7,000 other varieties of grape and be “marketable, easy to pronounce and carry positive connotations,” adding that both foreign-sounding and names similar to well-loved varieties are popular.

NY76.0844.24, the white wine grape, was first created in 1976, a highly productive grape that ranks high in its winter hardiness. Mr. Reisch said it has “excellent wine quality and aromatic characters reminiscent of Gewürztraminer or a citrusy Muscat.”

NY95.0301.01, the organic red, was developed in 1995 and fast-tracked into production because of its promise as an organic variety. It is the first grape to be released from a “no-spray” vineyard, with good resistance to both downy and powdery mildews. Mr. Reisch said “it exhibits moderate body, good structure and blueberry flavor on the pallette.”

The winning names will be revealed between February 6 and 8 at the Viticulture 2013 conference in Rochester, NY.

“There are so many different flavors,” Mr. Reisch said. “Why shouldn’t people get excited about new varieties? They keep things interesting for the consumer and are often better for growers.”

Got name suggestions? Leave a comment below to let us know what your ideas are and don’t forget to copy and paste them in an email to Mr. Reisch at [email protected].

07/09/12 10:32am
07/09/2012 10:32 AM

When summer is in full swing, it’s hard to move off the patio at home. I can spend hours under my shady pergola, sipping something cool. Still, however much inertia takes hold, there are wine events coming up on the East End that are motivating enough to make me head on down the pike for some vinous entertainment.

As a devoted lover of bubbly, I never want to miss the James Beard Foundation’s annual summer celebration of all things sparkling: Chefs and Champagne at Wölffer Estate Vineyards in Sagaponack on Saturday, July 21, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Raising money for the ongoing mission of the JBF, “to celebrate, nurture and preserve America’s diverse culinary heritage and future,” Chefs and Champagne is a gigantic, tented walkabout tasting representing the best of the best from America’s chefs. Coming as it does during New York City’s slow time, when anyone who can escapes to the country, it attracts an impressive array of foodie stars.

In past years, Chefs and Champagne has paid tribute to single celebrities like Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse, but this year JBF Award winners Ted Allen and the judges of Food Network’s Chopped — Maneet Chauhan, Scott Conant, Amanda Freitag, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy, Marcus Samuelsson, Aarón Sanchez, Chris Santos and Geoffrey Zakarian — will all receive this honor together. These über talents of the food world are a spirited lot; their energy adds to the vibrancy of the evening.

Nicolas Feuillate is the official Champagne sponsor. I suggest you get there early, before the vintage Brut 2004 runs out, then hop on over to the Wölffer Estate table for winemaker Roman Roth’s divine wines, which this year will include the intriguing Diosa Late Harvest Chardonnay 2010 and Fatalis Fatum 2007.

Later this summer, from 6 to 9 p.m. on Aug. 25 (moved up from its previous September date to take advantage of a new location at the Hampton Classic’s Bridgehampton show grounds) the Wine Spectator will again sponsor Harvest East End, Long Island’s foremost celebration of local wine and food, benefiting East End Hospice, the Group for the East End and Peconic Land Trust. Organized by Merliance (an alliance of Long Island merlot producers) and the Long Island Wine Council, Harvest East End will offer tastes from up to 40 East End wineries and 30 top restaurants with an exciting array of award-winning wines — including barrel samples of not-yet-released wines — and local, seasonal dishes from some of the region’s finest chefs, using all locally sourced foods.

Harvest East End’s Festival Tasting (called “Fall for Long Island” even though it’s still summer when it takes place) is, like Chefs and Champagne, a walkabout event where you can graze to your heart’s content while schmoozing with chefs and vintners. If you want to hang out with the high rollers you can also buy tickets to the VIP section, which will get you in early and give you access to comfortable tables and, more important, a special “wine library” tasting of older vintages. These tickets are almost sold out, so act quickly if you want that extra dose of glamour.

Even more coveted are invitations to a handful of 10 Mile Dinners, part of the Harvest East End experience organized to raise money for its beneficiaries. Soon to be announced, these are dinners held at spectacular private homes and prepared by star chefs using food sourced from within 10 miles. Each dinner features the wines of a single Long Island winery. Most dinners will be open to only 10 invited diners each; invitations can be obtained by applying to [email protected]

Besides these two blockbuster events, many wineries offer delightful places to relax and enjoy a glass of wine, often with music. Among my favorite picks are Martha Clara’s Sunset Vines and Canines educational vineyard walk (the next one is on Aug. 1) — bring your dog down for a walk through the vineyards with winemaker Juan Micieli-Martinez and his dog, Satchmo; a sybaritic afternoon sipping rose on the barn swing at Croteaux Vineyards; and Baiting Hollow Farm’s pony rides added to the mix of music and wine, supporting its equine rescues.

On Aug. 19, McCall Vineyards will host the summer’s most singular event: an aboriginally inspired buffet cooked by local chefs, where you can cut your fish or meat with an Algonquin flint, all to benefit the Southold Indian Museum. This is your chance to taste samp (cracked corn) and squash where Cutchogue natives once grew similar crops.
Choose your favorite, get out of that hammock and go for some summer fun.

Ms. Hargrave was a founder of the Long Island wine industry in 1973. She is currently a freelance writer and consultant.

07/03/12 8:00am
07/03/2012 8:00 AM

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO | Salt at Shelter Island’s Island Boatyard opened “The Tasting Room” this week. Julia Hathaway pours a glass for proprietor Keith Bavaro. Jamesport Vineyards is partnering with Salt on this new venture.

Jamesport Vineyards brought the North Fork wine industry to the next level this weekend with its newest tasting room, a joint venture between the vineyard and Shelter Island’s new restaurant, Salt, located on the waterfront.

“This is the first tasting room you can reach by boat,” said Salt co-owner Keith Bavaro. “Opening weekend was fantastic. It was a big hit even though we haven’t done any advertising for it yet.”

Not only is the tasting room the first that can be accessed directly by boat, it’s also the first satellite tasting room on Shelter Island.

The genesis for the new tasting outlet occurred when Jamesport Vineyards owner Ron Goerler visited the restaurant with his retail manager, Jack Perdie. “[Mr. Bavaro] had a building that he wasn’t using,” Mr. Goerler said, “and he asked if we wanted to open a tasting room.”

He said the two looked at Mr. Bavaro as if he had two heads but agreed to look at the building anyway.

Once they saw the space, Mr. Goerler said everything began to “make sense.”

He said the waterfront view and the restaurant were just the icing on the cake. What really “made sense” to him was the island itself as an untapped resource for the wine industry.

“With our license we’re allowed to open up to five different locations under the Farm Winery Act,” Mr. Goerler said. “We felt that having a presence for Jamesport where restaurants support us is important because as business models change, retail continues to drive this all.”

Though the regular hours are still being worked out for the new tasting room, Mr. Bavaro said he expects it will be open from noon to 9 p.m. all week through the Fourth of July.

06/08/12 7:00am
06/08/2012 7:00 AM

Sherwood House Vineyards in Jamesport won four awards this week, including North Fork Winery of the Year, at last month’s New York International Wine Competition, according to a press release the company sent out this week.

The vineyard’s 2011 unoaked chardonnay, 2010 chardonnay and 2007 merlot won this year’s top awards among the 800 wines judged at the annual competition in Manhattan.

Barbara Smithen, owner of Sherwood House Vineyards, said in a press release that winning this year’s top award is one of the vineyard’s proudest achievements.

“For a little guy, we are thrilled to be recognized in such a big way by such a well-regarded, ‘in the field’ panel,” she said. “This award truly speaks to the quality of our wine at both the international and local level, and to the past 16 years of hard work behind it.”

Sherwood House Vineyards describes itself as one of the smaller wineries on Long Island because it produces about 2,800 cases of wine annually.

But the vineyard has still been able to win several awards over the years, including the Best in Class Award for its 2008 chardonnay at the 2011 LA International Wine Competition and a gold medal for its 2008 cabernet franc at the 2012 Critics Challenge International.

For more information about Sherwood House Vineyards, visit http://sherwoodhousevineyards.com/.

[email protected]

04/30/12 11:16am
04/30/2012 11:16 AM

Milla Handley has been making wine in California since 1975. Back then, she was one of very few women actually down in the cellar, dragging hoses around and monitoring fermentation temperatures. In 1978 she and her husband, Rex McClellan, moved to the remote Anderson Valley, north of Sonoma, where, over time, they planted 29 acres in chardonnay, pinot noir and gewurtztraminer. In 1982, she began to make her own wine in their basement.

At the time, Milla and Rex were true winemaking pioneers. While Napa was surging to prominence under the leadership of such wine greats as Robert Mondavi, the Anderson Valley was a little too far from San Francisco, a little too cold, a little too rural for the kind of investors who poured money into Napa. But Milla liked its isolation. She enjoyed the camaraderie of her hardscrabble farming neighbors. Even after Rex’s death, she continued making wine there despite its many challenges.

At Milla’s vineyard, heavy fog from the Pacific Ocean makes for cold nights (around 50 degrees during the growing season). When the fog clears, it can get as hot as 112 degrees. Most of the time, a 35-degree change in 24 hours is typical there. This makes the vines struggle to ripen, but it also conserves acidity in the fruit. Just when the fruit is almost ripe, autumn rains begin, sometimes forcing a premature harvest.

I met Milla in Manhattan at Keen’s Steakhouse, where a small group of wine writers was led through a retrospective tasting of 12 Handley pinot noirs from the 1997-2009 vintages. We tasted silently and seriously, then asked questions of Milla and her co-winemaker, Kristen Barnhisel. It was indeed a tasting worthy of focused attention; the wines were seriously good. But what I liked best about the tasting was Milla herself. She and I began making wine at the same time (1975), and she told stories that I could really identify with about raising two children while making wine professionally.

As much as Milla liked the remoteness of her Anderson Valley home, from a very early age her eldest daughter wanted to live in a more populated area. “Mom,” the child said, “Let’s move to New York.”

“No,” said Milla. “New York is too far away.”

“Then can we move to San Francisco?”

“No,” said Milla. “That’s too far, too.”

“Well then,” asked the child, “How about Booneville?”

My own daughter, at age 3, used to say, quite regularly, “I wanna go somewhere!” And we were already in Cutchogue, which was about as populous as Booneville back then.

Milla may live in the middle of nowhere, and favor a laid-back personal style, but she is sophisticated in the world of wine. She told me of her meeting with the cellar master at the famed estate of Romanée Conti in Burgundy. This man, revered for his wines but a notorious fanny pincher, encircled her shoulders with one arm, grasping her breast in one hand while firmly holding a bottle of 1966 Le Montrachet in the other. Being a true lover of wine, and not wanting to compromise her chance to taste one of the world’s finest white Burgundies, Milla ignored the inappropriate gesture.

“Hey, he’s French! And he was scheduled to have a triple bypass. He looked like a garbage man,” she told me. “Besides, the wine was worth it.”

Having survived this and other forms of disrespect familiar to many female winemakers (“We were once called a coven,” Milla says), Milla has expanded Handley Cellars, so that now she makes wines from several vineyards. Still, my favorites were those from her home vineyard, called “RSM” after her late husband. The 1997 had a wonderful subtlety rarely found in California pinot noirs. As old as it is, the wine still blossomed in the glass, with flavors of black cherries and allspice.

I also admired the 2005 RSM Pinot Noir, which had nuanced fruit and sweet, nutty wood.

Other tasters preferred the bigger, more extracted wines, like the 2009 RSM, with its brilliant color and lush fruit. But this is a style one expects from a California pinot. When Milla said, “New York has a European palate,” someone yelled, “No they don’t. They want fruit bombs!”

That’s an issue for Long Island’s vintners, too: Wine critics have led consumers away from subtle, cool-climate wines. I sympathize with Milla, who said, “I’m trying not to be a bitch. I’m trying but I fail sometimes.”

Ms. Hargrave was a founder of the Long Island wine industry in 1973. She is currently a freelance writer and consultant.