10/03/13 9:16am
10/03/2013 9:16 AM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Farm Stands like Hallocks Cider Mill in Laurel will soon be able to sell local wine.

Wine lovers will soon be able to pick up a bottle of local vino at their nearest farm stand.

Continuing his push to promote New York State vineyards Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed new legislation permitting the sale of wine at roadside farm markets.

“These new laws will build on our continuing efforts to promote New York’s wine industry across the state and beyond, boosting tourism, local economies and job growth,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement.

Mr. Cuomo signed bills last Friday allowing farm stands to sell local wines and creating several new wine trails in upstate New York. They go into effect March 31, 2014.

On the North Fork, which already boasts an established wine trail, the farm markets law allows for sale of wine that is manufactured and produced by up to two licensed farm wineries, special wineries or micro-wineries located within 20 miles of the roadside farm stands, according to the law.

While in 2009 the mere mention of allowing wine sales at supermarkets had liquor store owners furious and scared for their livelihoods, the new law is not drawing the same amount of criticism.

Jim Silver, general manager of Empire State Cellars in Riverhead, said he doesn’t think allowing farm stands to sell local wine would have a negative impact on his business.

“The seasonality of farm stands is so limited that I don’t think it will have an impact,” he said, adding that farm stands are restricted to carrying only two brands of wine and that climate control might cause a storage issue for farmers. “Do I think it’s a good a idea? Yes. Do I think it’s a great idea? No.”

Steve Bate, the Wine Council executive director, believes the law will have a positive impact on the local economy.

“I think it provides a terrific new opportunity for wineries and farm stands to work together to promote the sale of local products,” he said. “This is just the latest example that Governor Cuomo really understands and appreciates the importance of agriculture and agritourism to our state’s economy.”

Mr. Cuomo has spearheaded several initiatives to bolster the wine industry.

In July 2012, the governor signed legislation designed to support New York’s breweries and wineries, as well as increase demand for locally grown farm products and expand industry-related economic development and tourism.

The Empire state is home to nearly 500 wineries, breweries, distilleries and cider mills that account for more than $22 billion in annual total economic impact in the state and support tens of thousands of jobs statewide, the governor’s office said.

The state ranks third in the nation in wine and grape production, has the second-most distilleries and three of the top-producing 20 brewers in the nation, Mr. Cuomo said.

The 2013-14 state budget introduced several new initiatives to help improve the marketing of New York State-produced products, including a total of $7 million for Market New York and Taste NY to support a multifaceted regional marketing plan that will promote regional tourism and New York-produced goods and products.

cmurray@timesreview.com

 

09/29/13 9:58am
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The Massoud family at the 30th anniversary celebration of Paumanok Vineyards Saturday night.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The Massoud family at the 30th anniversary celebration of Paumanok Vineyards Saturday night.

Paumanok Vineyards celebrated its 30th anniversary Saturday night with a gala party to thank local chefs for their years of support. The Massoud family, owners of the Aquebogue vineyard, will donate all proceeds from the event to Peconic Bay Medical Center.

SEE PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT AT NORTHFORKER.COM

Several hundred guests gathered under a festive white tent at the edge of the vineyard and were treated to tastings from some of Long Island’s most celebrated chefs, including many from the North Fork.

READ HOW PAUMANOK GOT ITS START

Master of Ceremonies Doug Geed, anchorman for News 12 and host of The East End, spoke of his affection for the North Fork and for the Massoud family, whom he has known for over 25 years.

Peconic Bay Medical Center president and CEO Andrew Mitchell gave a short and sometimes funny history of the Massoud family’s journey and of winemaking on Long Island.

Suffolk County legislator Al Krupski presented the Massouds with a proclamation and brought the entire family up to the stage to receive it.

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05/05/13 2:30pm
05/05/2013 2:30 PM

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Winemaker Anthony Nappa with dogs Beckett and Smooch in the Raphael winery storeroom.

Growing up in the outskirts of Boston, Anthony Nappa couldn’t have imagined that his life would one day revolve around grapes and oak barrels.

“I didn’t find wine,” Mr. Nappa said from his new office at Raphael vineyards and winery in Peconic, where he became winemaker in late January. “It sort of found me.”

That’s not to say the path to viticulture hadn’t been at least partially cleared for the 35-year-old Mr. Nappa, who lives in Southold with his wife, chef Sarah Evans Nappa.

Plants had always been one of his primary interests, so after graduating from high school, Mr. Nappa studied botany at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, earning a degree in fruit and vegetable agriculture.

But it wasn’t until Mr. Nappa traveled to Italy, his father’s birthplace, that his interest in wine was piqued.

“I found out I have a decent palate, a really good sense of smell and an ability to do this,” he said of making wine.

Soon, Mr. Nappa was halfway around the world, in New Zealand — a cool-climate region famous for its dry white wines — where he studied winemaking at Lincoln University in Christchurch, earning degrees in viticulture and oenology.

“If you understand grape chemistry it translates to wine chemistry,” he said. “Some people only study wine but when you want to make better wine you have to start in the vineyard. If you take it back all the way to the grape chemistry, you have a better holistic understanding of the whole product.”

After graduation, Mr. Nappa moved to southern Italy, where he has dual citizenship, to make wine. He also worked as a winemaker in Massachusetts and California. In 2007, he moved to Long Island, where Long Island Sound, Peconic Bay and the Atlantic Ocean help regulate the temperature and create a unique winemaking experience.

“Long Island is one of the most positive and interesting regions on the East Coast,” he said. “I think we can make wines that rival any of the high-end wines in California and Europe.”

Mr. Nappa’s first major professional foray into the wine industry was also in 2007, when he and his wife produced 200 cases of Long Island Pinot Noir, creating Anthony Nappa Wines.

That same year, he became the winemaker at Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck. He left there in 2011 to concentrate on Anthony Nappa Wines, which currently sells nine varieties as well as a hard apple cider at its Peconic shop, the Winemakers Studio.

“Anthony is a talented winemaker,” said David Page, co-owner of Shinn Estate Vineyards and Farmhouse. “I wish him nothing but the best.”

As much as Mr. Nappa enjoyed his solo venture — “I was just working for myself, making wine,” he said — he missed the stability an established winery often provides.

“It’s nice to have a home base,” Mr. Nappa said. “You have some consistency and better control.”

Enter Raphael, an estate-owned vineyard and winery that opened in 2001. Last December, Raphael’s owners, Joseph Vergari and Julie Petrocelli-Vergari, approached Mr. Nappa about taking over the winemaking position, which had become vacant.

“We courted him for a bit,” Ms. Vergari said. She and Mr. Vergari had chatted with Mr. Nappa at various industry events and sensed he’d be a great addition to the winery.

“He gets it,” she said. “He gets what we’re trying to do. The way he makes wine and the way we make wine is very similar.”

The timing seemed serendipitous. Just before starting his new position, Mr. Nappa had finished bottling wines at his own shop, allowing him to focus on blending and bottling Raphael’s whites. Next up? Fine tuning the reds and seeing where the rest of the year takes him.

“We’re turning toward reds and figuring out the summer,” Mr. Nappa said. “Things happen slowly in the winery. Things are always in motion but it’s a slow, steady pace.”

For the laid-back Mr. Nappa, who often brings his two dogs, Beckett and Smooch, with him to the vineyard, it’s a pace that suits him just fine.

“I enjoy the creative side of winemaking,” he said. “We’re not changing the world here; it’s just wine — but we do make something that people enjoy, and that’s rewarding.”

ryoung@timesreview.com

02/23/13 12:00pm
02/23/2013 12:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Aquebogue’s own acclaimed trumpet player Alex Siplagin will perform at Winterfest this weekend.

The 2013 edition of the Winterfest Jazz on the Vine series continues at local wineries this weekend. Tickets to the concert events are $20.

Check out the complete schedule below:

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23

Ahmad Ali
Harbes Family Vineyard
3 p.m.
Jazz on the Half Shell
Macari Vineyards & Winery
3 p.m.
Danny Kean & Friends
Pellegrini Vineyards
3 p.m.
Steve Adelson Stick-Tet
Castello di Borghese
4:30 p.m.
Alex Sipiagin
Raphael
4:30 p.m.
Mike Freeman ZonaVibe
Wolffer Estate
6 p.m.
Live at the Indigo
Hotel Indigo
7 p.m.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24
Paula Atherton
Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard
2:30 p.m.
Josyane Monaco
Diliberto Winery
2:30 p.m.
Iris Ornig
Palmer Vineyards
2:30 p.m.
Eliana Marcia & Banda Azul
Raphael
4 p.m.
Don Miller’s String Theory
Lieb Cellars
4 p.m.
The Rare Groove Band
Bedell Cellars
4 p.m.
02/18/13 4:00pm
02/18/2013 4:00 PM

SAMANTHA BRIX FILE PHOTO | Today is National Drink Wine Day.

Today is not only President’s Day, but National Drink Wine Day, a great reason to pick up a bottle of your favorite local wine to help celebrate the three-day weekend. The “holiday” is touted as a way “to spread the love and health benefits of wine.”

As you get cozy at your home or favorite local winery, take a minute to tell us:

What’s your favorite North Fork wine?

02/08/13 3:00am
02/08/2013 3:00 AM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Duckwalk Vineyards has been in court over a lawsuit with a California winemaker.

Duck Walk is fighting a cross-country duck war.

Though the wineries are on opposite ends of the country, Duckhorn Wine Company of St. Helena, Calif., and Long Island’s Duck Walk Vineyards have their feathers ruffled over their common denominator: the image of a duck.

Duckhorn filed a complaint against Duck Walk last month in Napa County Superior Court for breaching a contract formed in 2003 between the companies, according to the Napa Valley Register website. That agreement followed lawsuits by the companies against one another for trademark infringement.

Duckhorn is now accusing Duck Walk of failing to indicate its Long Island location on the front label of its bottles, according to Duckhorn attorney Charles Bunsow of San Francisco. He said agreement violations can be seen on Duck Walk’s 2007 cabernet and 2005 merlot labels. Court documents include other examples from 2008 and 2009 as evidence of violations.

“They do not have the required geographical designation on them, which is a clear violation of the settlement agreement they entered into in 2003,” Mr. Bunsow said in an interview with the News-Review. “It couldn’t be more obvious. I’m shocked they even say they’re going to contest this.”

Representatives for Duck Walk, which has locations in Southold and Water Mill, say they haven’t violated the agreement.

Attorney Steven Schlesinger of Garden City, who represents Duck Walk, insisted that “every bottle has the geographical location on it.

“They can’t read,” Mr. Schlesinger said. “The agreement requires us to put the geographical location on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ front label, which is the back label to the consumer.”

The original agreement, forged with Dan Duckhorn, who founded the Duckhorn winery in 1976, outlined specific circumstances and ways in which Duck Walk, which opened in 1994, could reference the waterfowl.

In addition to requiring mention of Long Island, court documents show that the agreement limits Duck Walk’s production and distribution of wines with labels that include images of ducks or use the word “duck” — including in the winery’s name, according to Mr. Schlesinger.

He speculated that the timing of the lawsuit could be an attempt by Duckhorn’s new corporate owners to duck out of the agreement.

“I think they’re pissed that we have an agreement to use ‘duck’ and they’re trying to wiggle out of it,” he said. “They’re of the opinion that they have a trademark on all ducks. The problem is they’re not going to win that case if they want to litigate it. They will never establish that they own the word ‘duck’ or get us to change our name altogether.”

Under the terms of the existing agreement, Duck Walk’s production of wines with bottles bearing duck images or language is limited to 84,000 gallons per year. It also states that Duck Walk “shall not sell more than 50 percent of the annual gross production outside the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.”

Mr. Schlesinger said there hasn’t been a violation there either, and that Duck Walk’s total production has not exceeded 65,000 gallons.

“Virtually 100 percent of our distributors are in the metropolitan area and one third of our production is sold at the vineyards,” he said. “If a distributor re-distributes our products somewhere else, that’s not our problem.”

Mr. Bunsow said the restriction was created to limit Duck Walk’s use of a confusingly similar mark.

“We’ll see if they lived up to that,” he said of the distribution restrictions. “If they want to sell more wine, they’re free to use a different label.”

gvolpe@timesreview.com

01/18/13 3:00pm
01/18/2013 3:00 PM
COURTESY PHOTO  |  Louisa and Alex Hargrave left Harvard University, where they met, 40 years ago to head to Long Island's East End.

COURTESY PHOTO | Louisa and Alex Hargrave left Harvard University, where they met, 40 years ago to head to Long Island’s East End.

The Long Island Wine Council celebrated its 40th anniversary Thursday night at Raphael Vineyards in Peconic. The North Fork wine industry began when Louisa and Alex Hargrave took a chance to try something never before done here. In the winter issue of the Long Island Wine Press, published by Times/Review, the Hargraves reflected on how it all began.

Louisa and Alex Hargrave stood under a sunny sky one unseasonably warm winter afternoon with two grape experts who had come from afar to take a gander at Long Island’s very first vineyard.

The young couple, neither of whom had any viticulture experience, were soliciting advice on growing stronger, more fruitful grapevines. The expert, who grew grapes in California, told them to keep the vines with the thickest wood and cut off the side shoots.

The Hargraves exchanged puzzled glances. Just minutes earlier, a grape expert from Cornell University’s Agricultural Experiment Station in upstate New York had given the exact opposite advice: Keep the thinnest wood and do not cut off the side shoots.

COURTESY PHOTO  |  Alex Hargrave majored in Asian studies before turning attention to wine making.

COURTESY PHOTO | Alex Hargrave majored in Asian studies before turning attention to wine making.

“We decided not to take anyone’s advice,” Louisa Hargrave recalled in a recent interview. “We had to inform ourselves. We couldn’t rely on anyone else.”

Exactly 40 years ago, the Hargraves left Harvard University, where they met, and headed for Long Island’s East End, a rural landscape covered with potato farms, cornfields and churches. There was not a single grapevine in the region, now characterized by a bustling wine industry.

The Hargraves had driven across the country to Napa Valley to visit vineyards and explore owning one but were disappointed at the time by the quality of the West Coast’s highly oxidized wines. They knew they wanted to grow vinifera grapes, which grow well in Europe, and were told by Cornell University researcher and agricultural scientist John Wickham that the climate and soils on Long Island were similar to those of France and other regions where vinifera grapes prosper.

And so, they set their sights on grape-growing on Long Island.

“We weren’t satisfied with anything else,” Hargrave said of their decision. “We were young and we thought we had nothing to lose.”

Alex Hargrave had majored in Asian studies and his wife earned degrees in teaching and government. If college taught them anything, though, it was that experts didn’t have all the answers. They couldn’t farm — neither had grown so much as a cherry tomato in a backyard garden — but they knew how do research and banked on their learning skills.

Hargraves2“We took a huge risk,” Hargrave said. “It’s the arrogance of youth — you think you can’t fail. You do what you want to do and just go for it.”

Sixty-six acres and many challenges later, the Hargraves had created a small winemaking operation, population two. The early days were fraught with challenges: diseased plants, destructive birds, natural disasters and nosy, anti-alcohol neighbors.

“There were people who would call reporters every time they saw a bug on a grape leaf and then there’d be some big story,” Hargrave recalled. On the whole, the couple were well-received by fellow farmers on the North Fork, but the “small but vocal faction” caused them their fair share of headaches.

Not having anyone to look to for advice or examples, the Hargraves made fresh decisions — and tragic mistakes.

Eric Fry, 20-year winemaker at Lenz Winery, which was founded a few years after Hargrave Vineyard, said other early vineyard managers and winemakers looked to the Hargraves to glean insight on what to do — and what not to do.

The biggest lesson the fledgling Long Island wine world learned from the Hargraves was where not to plant, Fry said. The Hargraves had planted vines in low spots, which turned out to be a vine’s arch-enemy. Lower ground is typically wet and cold — destructive conditions for a grapevine.

“They didn’t exactly know what they were doing and they made a lot of mistakes,” Fry said. “They were experimenters. Someone had to do that for us to find out.”

 

Their first wine, Hargrave admits, was a disaster. They stored a sorry Sauvignon Blanc in whiskey barrels instead of customary oak barrels.

“We didn’t know how important oak was,” she said.

The whiskey barrels stripped the wine of its color and added a heavy char flavor.

Though the early days were peppered with flops and faux pas, the Hargraves had fallen in love with the art of grape-growing and winemaking.

“I wanted to do work that was physical and meaningful and for my children to experience work effort,” Hargrave said. “I wanted our work to have results — something we could eat and drink.”

The couple’s two children did learn the hard work of farming a vineyard. Their son, Xander, remembers the endless work and spirited energy of each fall’s harvest — and his parents’ faithful devotion to their love of wine.

“They were stubbornly committed to wines they enjoyed drinking — wines that had an old world connection and quality,” said Xander Hargrave, who is now assistant winemaker at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue.

He believes the local wine industry’s prosperity is rooted in a like-minded community with the same goals. “The health and success of the wine industry is linked to the health and success of the community,” he said. “Forty years of the wine industry is just the beginning.”

The Hargraves ended up selling their beloved vineyard just after harvest in 1999, leaving behind two decades of winemaking and a burgeoning wine region now dotted with dozens of vineyards.

True pioneers, the couple set the stage for scores of winemakers who would produce world-class, award-winning wines.

To this day, Louisa Hargrave wants not much more than an alluring glass of wine to relax with. Her idea of a great wine, she said, is one with subtlety, “an interesting and intricate aroma that doesn’t hit you over the head.”  She likes dynamic wines with energy, fruitiness and earthiness.

“Making wines that are very dynamic and have energy from the first taste to the last,” she said. “That’s where I think we succeeded and that’s where winemakers on Long Island today succeed.”

08/05/12 9:34am
08/05/2012 9:34 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Riverhead residents Carrie Savonije (from left), Wayne Piaskowski, and Don and Erika Miller toast to the beer sampler they were going to share in a tasting, which included beers from Long Ireland Brewery, Greenport Harbor Brewery and Southampton Publik House, in the new North Fork Tasting room Saturday afternoon. It had its grand opening party at Baiting Hollow Commons Friday evening.

There’s a new place in town for North Fork food and wine lovers.

The North Fork Tasting Room, located in the same shopping center as Lobster Roll Northside and the Gingerbread Factory in Baiting Hollow, opened its doors Saturday afternoon. Owner Fred Terry said the store is a “labor of love” that will introduce new local wines to tourists and residents alike.

“This will be particularly a conduit for wineries and future breweries that are off the beaten track, because we are on the beaten track,” Mr. Terry said.

In addition to wine sales by the glass, the store will use Lobster Roll Northside’s kitchens to make a variety of Mr. Terry’s family recipes, from huckleberry pies and other baked goods to smoked meats and fish.

“It’s something that I wanted to do since the inception of this [restaurant] and that’s more culinary arts, more food,” he said. “The
tasting room is as much food tasting as it is beverage tasting, for me.”