Vol.1 No. 29…Long Island wineries

While the Finger Lakes excel in white wines, and some surprisingly good reds, especially Cab Franc’s, Long Island, is comprised of two branches forming a claw, North Fork and South Fork, each with a different micro-clime and soils. I had some very nice wines, both red and white, in both areas.

Paumonok, is on the North Fork and was a McNeill favorite. Again, the Cab Franc was the standout. I could not visit that but I did visit several others and were impressed with some of the wines…most notably the Cab Francs.

Also on the North Fork, a very unusual one called One Woman winery. Seeing the little red house reminded me of the Heitz Cellars tasting room on Hwy 29, in Oakville. I was fortunate enough to meet her, Claudia Purita, a pleasant looking woman with hands that showed a lot of work in the vineyards. Her face also showed her time in the sun. But she was fiercely proud of her vineyard and wines, and that stood out to me…way out! Again, her Cab Franc was the standout.

A friend took me to Roanoke Vineyards tasting room where ran right down the list. They are the only winery I found that besides their North Fork vineyards bought grapes from Roman Roth on the South Fork. He was ‘discovered’ by Eric Asimov, a writer for Newsday and the New York Times and a very accomplished wine aficionado. He was the first writer I know of to be bold enough to write about Long Island wines…favorably. I now have faith in his judgment.

We sampled all their wines – all vitis vinifera grapes, no American or French-American Hybrids, a good thing. Their wines and the ones labeled the ‘Grapes of Roth’, were made with Roman Roth of Wolffer Estate Winery on the South Fork.

With that segue, we will cross Shelter Island, where we stayed in a nice house near a friend. Being an island, it requires taking a ferry over, traversing the island, then another ferry to the South Fork and Sag Harbor. Sag Harbor is a beautiful little town with little indication that there are vineyards close by – very close. We chose two:

Wolffer Estate is perhaps the largest vineyard and winery in the area. They too, use all vitis vinifera grapes and make the full range of wines you would find in California. Of particular interest are the Rieslings, as Roman Roth is a German and the day we visited was preparing for a festival wearing his Lederhosen and trademark Alpine hat.

He is a very nice man who is all about wine. He is as serious a winemaker as you will find anywhere in California, and very proud of his wines…especially the Rieslings. There is much attention to detail both in the winemaking and in the beautiful winery.

The other winery we visited was Channing Daughters which is further west. The name puzzled me but the founder Walter Channing, a successful venture capitalist, and artist whose works adorn the winery, named the winery after his daughters,

Rosie Orlando, my server, poured wines for me. I said I want to try the ones you think are the best and she didn’t disappoint me. We began with a Rosado, one of seven ‘pink’ wines they make,  with the right amount of acid to make a wine with a nice finish. Then another nice Cab Franc and a Refosco and a a North Fork Cabernet Sauvignon, which was a pleasant wine with soft tannins. All the above were priced at $20 – very fair. Next, Sculpture Garden a 91% Merlot blend that was unusual in that it had  6% Teroldego, and 3% Blaufranckisch. The grapes are foot stomped (?), punched down by hand, and then aged 24 months in older French and Slovenian barrels. This is a big wine the could last eight years or more and needs decanting as it throws off sediment.

The final wine was a 2010 Envelope, 62% Chardonnay, 28% Gewurtztraminer, and 10% Malvasia Bianco. A stunning wine.

All these wine represented good value and most were in the $20-25 range.

In summary, I felt that all the wines I tasted on Long Island were good to very good and a pleasant surprise.


©Copyright 2015 TBOW, all rights reserved.

Vol. 1 No. 28…middle New York

Since, as I said in the last blog, we are going in reverse order of the actual trip, this edition will cover the Hudson River valley and a surprise just outside of Middlebury, Vt.

First, there is much to see in this region – winery-wise – that is, but there are some surprises. In Karen McNeil’s The Wine Bible, First Edition, published in 1985, she mentions a little-known fact: Brotherhood Winery in the Catskill foothills is the oldest continuously run winery in the United States. Founded in 1839, it produced sacramental wines – a fact that came in handy during our country’s lunacy, Prohibition, or as some called it: “the noble experiment”. TB is one of those as it most certainly was an experiment which brought the Mafia and other gangs to power, but it most certainly was not noble, as any number of Congressmen who voted for it would attest but continued to imbibe when it became a Constitutional Amendment, the 18th and was finally repealed by the 21st, but by then the damage was done and it took decades for the wine industry to stage a comeback.

Note that in The Wine Bible, she talks at length about Brotherhood Winery but there is nary a mention of it in the 2nd Edition. Also there were 18 pages devoted to New York wines in the original volume, but just 14 in the new one, although the type is smaller.

In the Hudson Valley, the only one mentioned by McNeill, and while I didn’t visit the winery, was Millbrook, located not far from Hyde Park, Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s home.

It is a beautiful winery, very pastoral, and set up for tourists, and the author recommended their Tocai Friulano which I found and purchased a bootle, and better still it wa the Proprietor’s Special Reserve, 2014 vintage. While it is not like Viognier, it has an unusual flavor, not the bitterness but a slightly green flavor, but it doesn’t mask the rich, creamy taste. At $20 it is a great buy. The rest of their wines, both red and white range from $20 to $35. If I am back in the area again I will be certain to visit.

While the Finger Lakes excel in white wines, and some surprisingly good reds, especially Cab Franc’s, Long Island, is comprised of two branches forming a claw, North Fork and South Fork, each with a different microclime and soils. I had some very nice wines, both red and white, in both areas.

If you are driving to Canada there are two routes you can take from the Hudson Valley. We decided to take the one that went through a sliver of Vermont. Along the way through farmlands we came upon Middlebury, one of the most beautiful and gentrified towns in America…with exclusive Middlebury College as an added draw. As we left town, I saw a sign for wine tasting and not having stopped that day, veered off to it. Just off the highway was a house set back with a parking lot in front. It was Lincoln Park Vineyard and Winery. Inside it was charming as was the server. Some unusual wines with colorful names, wouldn’t win any awards in California but altogether pleasant. If I had a place up there I could easily settle back in front of a fire with a glass of their wine.

They also had some innovative ideas. They sold Vermont cheese and some nice wine accessories but what caught my eye was a ‘wine growler’ engraved with their logo. I asked about it and was told you buy it for $5, have it filled with your favorite of their wines, and get the $5 off. Then when it is empty come in and again save $5. Pretty neat!

From there we drove north to Niagara Falls where I have some advice: only go on the U.S. side long enough to take the Maid-o-the-Mist, then head for the Canadian side. The place to stay, only one as far as we were concerned is the Marriott Fallsview, closest to the falls with an incredibly beautiful view. For dinner, a view restaurant was recommended to us by my son with the odd name The Keg. It was a beautiful restaurant, good wine list, and a view almost as good as the one from our room, five floors higher a hundred yards away.

After the next edition, we go to Quebec City where we stayed at the historic and beautiful Frontenac and got any number of surprises in Canadian wineries we visited…could have stayed three days longer, they were that good.


©Copyright 2015 TBOW, all rights reserved.