Spring Wine Press: What’s new at North Fork wineries

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO| Tasting for the Long Island Merlot Alliance's annual Merliance blend, from left: Roman Roth, Les Howard, Barbara Shinn and Ann Marie Borghese.

Editor’s note: What’s new at the wineries was originally published in the Spring 2011 edition of Long Island Wine Press. Pick up your copy on newsstands now.

• Going right to the top, Long Island wines were recently enjoyed by President Obama at the White House. Macari Vineyards & Winery’s 2008 Block E dessert wine was served at the 2011 White House Governor’s Dinner hosted by the president. And in March, President Obama enjoyed Mattebella Vineyard wine at a private dinner held in his honor. Also, Macari’s Sauvignon Blanc 2009 and Sette were served at a dinner hosted by Congressman Steve Israel in Washington D.C.

The Long Island Wine Council has released a Long Island Wine Country smartphone app, one of the first wine regions  in the country to do so. The new app is free via download from the various app stores. The app allows users to find wineries and plan their route using the map feature with GPS geo-locating technology. Each winery listing has extensive information about the winery, its wines, hours of operation, contact information, tour information and more.

Visitors to the region can also find other important information using the “Dining” and “Accommodations” tabs. It also allows them to browse a list of events at the wineries, keep a list of their favorite wineries, dining spots and places to stay and to share trip information and pictures with friends via Facebook, Twitter or Flickr. Listings available through the app include the 47 member wineries of the Wine Council and more than 60 hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, restaurants, pastry shops and wine bars.

In November, Roanoke Vineyards hosted “The Judgment of Riverhead,” a reenactment of the celebrated 1976 wine tasting in Paris, “The Judgment of Paris.” Wines from California and France faced-off against the best wines of Long Island in a blind tasting. A panel of nine wine and restaurant industry professionals judged the wines. Eighteen wines were tasted; nine Chardonnays (three from each region) and nine reds, focusing on Bordeaux varietals (again, three from each region). The panelists rated the 2007 Pellegrini Vineyards’ Vintner’s Pride Chardonnay first place in the whites followed closely by the 2008 Palmer Vineyards Chardonnay Reserve. In the red wines, Roanoke Vineyards 2007 Blend One tied for first place with a Napa Valley winery.

• Russell McCall, owner of McCall Wines, has been elected president of the Long Island Merlot Alliance (LIMA). Other officers elected include: executive vice president, Roman Roth, winemaker and technical director at Wölffer Estate Vineyard; treasurer, Hal Ginsburg, owner and managing partner of Clovis Point; and technical advisor, Gilles Martin, winemaker at Sparkling Pointe and consulting winemaker for LIMA members Sherwood House Vineyards and McCall Wines.

• LIMA plans to launch or advance several initiatives this year, including blind tastings, technical consultations, Merlot-harvest data (sharing of detailed technical wine data) and Harvest 2011, a fundraising auction of all Long Island wines and a barrel-tasting of the stellar 2010 vintage.

In 2009, LIMA commissioned new research by Louisa Hargrave to assess whether the Merlot wines of Long Island have a profile that is distinct from those of other regions known for Merlot. Through a blind-tasting, it was discovered that L.I. wines do have a personality of their own. Check for a recently published report and overview.
The Kontakosta family plans to build a winery at its 67 Steps Vineyard, just west of Peconic Landing in Greenport. The 67 Steps Vineyard, already in operation on the property, was planted with 20 acres of grapes in 2004.

• Bedell Cellars and winemaker Rich Olsen-Harbich launched a Winemakers Blog which can be found at The blog is a journal of Rich’s journey through the winemaking process. In October, Bedell welcomed Oz Clarke, author of “Let Me Tell You About Wine,” who shared his love and knowledge of the North Fork. The vineyard will be introducing a varietal Syrah and Viognier this summer, available through their wine club.

• Bella Vita Vineyard has welcomed “Maggie,” short for Magnum, as part of the vineyard family. Maggie is a Bernese Mountain dog with a warm and energetic personality. She is well prepared to scare off the deer and raccoon grape eaters. The vineyard’s latest equipment includes five 250-gallon stainless-steel tanks to custom-produce 100 cases of white and rosé wines.
Alie Shaper, owner and winemaker at Brooklyn Oenology Tasting Room, makes her wine at the Premium Wine facility and has opened a satellite tasting room in Brooklyn.

• In January Comtesse Thérèse Vineyard and Bistro owner Tree Dilworth, chef Arie Pavlou and sommelier Dianne Delaney discussed Long Island wine and food on WHLI’s radio show “Playing With Fire” with co-hosts chef/author Tom Schaudel and “Malibu Sue” McCann. Also this past winter, Tree (she’s an international tax attorney) was interviewed on Fox Business for a 10-minute segment on the wine industry in a recession and answered tax questions, and Bistro sommelier Dianne Delaney was interviewed in Newsday for an article pairing cheeses with four Comtesse Thérèse wines.

• Marco and Ann Marie Borghese of Castello di Borghese welcomed a new granddaughter, Sophia, into the world. Sophia is the daughter of their son, Fernando, and his wife, Samantha. Barbara Reuschle joined the vineyard as Retail Sales and Wine Club Manager. Barbara has been a part of the North Fork wine industry for the past 10 years, first as a pourer, then as the Tasting Room Manager at the Lenz Winery.

• (Mr.) Kelly Bruer is the new Tasting Room Manager at Clovis Point.

• Duck Walk Vineyards is host to the annual Outback Steakhouse Ann Liguori Foundation dinner dance at the Water Mill tasting room. The foundation’s mission is to raise money and awareness for organizations that work with cancer prevention and research, both locally and nationally. Proceeds benefit both The American Cancer Society and Healthy Children, Healthy Futures.

• Harbes Farm and Vineyard has announced that Monica Harbes will manage the vineyard’s Old Barn Tasting Room.
Jamesport Vineyards has completed a private library-wine tasting cellar, storing past vintages dating back to 1986. Special tastings will be offered and the room is available for small functions.

• Mattebella also received a great review in the New York Times this winter (see “Winning Wines”) and is planning to open what owner Mark Tobin calls a “sweet little tasting cottage” at his Main Road, Southold vineyard this summer.

• Wine-in-keg is being offered at Martha Clara Vineyards. The vineyard will offer 8 wines on tap as of April. Spearheaded by General Manager Juan Micieli-Martinez and Winemaker Robin Epperson-McCarthy, the two saw a need to reduce their impacts on the environment and to make local wines available in eco-friendly packaging.
• The Old Field Vineyards has introduced an export-only brand of a reserve Merlot to Japan. The vineyard is going to offer 50 cases of Commodore Perry for sale in their tasting room as a fundraiser for the relief fund of victims of the Japanese earthquake.

• In May, One Woman Winery will be releasing the first and only Gruner Veltliner grown on Long Island. You can also find the vineyard on Facebook and Twitter.

•The wind turbine is now up and running at Osprey’s Dominion. The vineyard will be releasing its new Ascent Gentilwine this spring. Patric American Handcrafted Chocolate came to Osprey’s Dominion this winter for a yummy tasting demonstration with the winery’s wines.

• Zander Hargrave has been promoted to assistant winemaker at Peconic Bay Winery. Son of Louisa and Alex, founders of Long Island’s first commercial winery in 1973, he will work directly under head winemaker Greg Gove. Zander has spent time filling a wide variety of roles in the vineyard and cellar including heading up the winery’s new hard cider program. Michelle Rebentisch has been promoted to retail operations manager and will continue to act as tasting room manager, and Laura Hoch has been named music director at Peconic Bay. An international touring artist and singer/songwriter, Laura is a member of the band The Secondhands.

• Edward Lovass has been hired as assistant winemaker at Pindar Vineyards. A retired marine, Edward comes to Pindar from Mendocino, Calif., where he found his passion for wine and winemaking working and consulting for several California vineyards.
This past fall and winter, Sherwood House Vineyards welcomed three new additions to their family. Jersey is a 2-year-old Golden Retriever; Roxy is a 1-year-old Labradoodle and Mimi is a 4-month-old Golden Retriever-Husky mix. All three can be found running around the dog-friendly vineyard. They will be happy to give you their paws in exchange for treats.

• Staff changes at Sparkling Pointe include: Judy Cordasci, private events coordinator; Roseanna Lane, design, social media and advertising coordinator; Melissa Schwartz, sales and hospitality manager and wholesale account executive; and Dylan Greenberg, tasting room staff.

• The Lenz Winery welcomes Jerol Rickard as its new tasting room manager. A native of California’s Bay Area, Jerol spent a lot of his free time exploring the wineries of Napa. He was project manager for a market research company before relocating to the East Coast in 2010, when he discovered a new wine region to love and was snapped up by Lenz.

Lenz was the only Long Island winery pouring at a hospitality trade event on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in February.