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 bruce.reisch@cornell.edu.

01/21/12 10:30am
01/21/2012 10:30 AM

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | Helmut Gangl, an award-winnine ice and sweet wine maker from Austria, operates the wine press at Macari Vineyards in Mattituck.

Helmut Gangl leaves his vineyard, situated on the border of Austria and Hungary, every winter and heads for Long Island. An award-winning ice wine and sweet wine maker, Mr. Helmut has teamed up with Joe Macari, owner of Macari Vineyards in Mattituck, to make a variety of dessert wines.

One wine, 2008 Block E White Table Wine, was served at the Governor’s Dinner at the White House last February.

Those looking to make ice wine on Long Island this winter will run into some trouble, as temperatures have yet to take much of a dip. In order to be labeled an ice wine, the juice must be made from grapes that were frozen on the vines, and that has seldom happened this winter.

If grapes are frozen in freezers, as Macari wine is, the resulting bottles must be labeled sweet wines. Mr. Gangl has made Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Cabernet Franc and Merlot sweet wine for Macari, and will make Malbec and Riesling for the first time this year.

We sat down with Mr. Gangl to ask about the process of making sweet wine on the North Fork.

A: The grapes freeze in the freezer. The water in the cells of the grapes freeze and all the aromatics, all the sugars, all the acids are frozen. When you press the frozen berries, then you get the extract sugar, rich in aromatics. Then, when it gets cold, the grapes go outside — we press outside so it must be cold. It has to be between 28 and 32 degrees. The pressing brings out the extract from the grape berries and the frozen water in the cells stays in the berries because you cannot press out the frozen things. After the pressing, the fermentation goes on. We have a long fermentation – not only 2 or 3 weeks like the dry wines. The long fermentation takes 1-3 months. After the fermentation, it’s come to maturing time which is much longer than dry wine. The maturing time is 2 or 3 years in the barrel or stainless steel tank, wherever you want to do it. Then you stabilize the wine and bottle it. You do not sell them because you need maturing in the bottle for 8 months to a year. There is no rule; you have to taste it.

Q: Why is ice wine and sweet wine typically more expensive than other wine?

A: There are a lot of costs. You do not get very much juice – you get 70 percent less juice than from dry grapes. Also, the fermentation takes much longer.

Q: How does a mild winter affect ice winemaking?

A: If the winters are too warm and I press outside, the berries defrost too fast. The aromatics and acids are not the best combination.

Q: What’s a typical profile of a sweet wine?

A: The taste of a sweet wine from the variety Viognier is like apricots. Pure apricots. Very, very intense. A little bit of honey in the after taste. Then you find exotic things inside — mango, pineapple — but not intense pineapple, a touch of pineapple. You have fresh acidity because on Long Isalnd you have a lot of good acidity in the grapes during harvest and maturing time. In your mouth, you feel an elegancy in the after taste.

Q: What is one sweet wine and food pairing you’d suggest?

A: Vanilla ice cream with pumpkin seed oil and Chardonnay sweet wine. The pumpkin seed oil is nutty. Eat that with the ice cream and a little sip of Chardonnay sweet wine. Perfect.

sbrix@timesreview.com

01/20/12 7:59pm
01/20/2012 7:59 PM

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | Steve Bate, executive director of the Long Island Wine Council (center), Pat Snyder, executive director of East End Arts (right) and Bryan DeLuca, president of East End Tourism Alliance (left).

Wine drinkers and jazz lovers have a reason to get excited: the popular Winterfest Jazz on the Vine concert series is officially underway.

About 100 guests gathered in the ballroom of Hotel Indigo East End Friday evening for Winterfest’s kickoff event.

Mike McGowan of the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau (LICVB) said at a press conference prior to the kickoff event that the founders and organizers of Winterfest “gave us the product we desperately needed,” when they began the first set of concerts five years ago, setting up an event that brings large crowds during an otherwise quiet time of year.

He said the concerts invite residents of western Long Island and the tri-state area to the East End, where they support the local economy by shopping in boutiques and dining in restaurants on the north and south forks, places “they know they want to come back to come spring.”

The LICVB sponsors the yearly concert series along with the Long Island Wine Council and East End Arts. This year, 71 concerts — the most performances in Winterfest history — will go on at participating wineries and at Hotel Indigo East End. Pat Snyder, executive director of East End Arts, said the lineup is especially impressive this year, as the great majority of scheduled musicians have been nominated for Grammy Awards.

Admission to each concert is $15 per person and includes a glass of wine.

The first concert is set for Feb. 11.

Steve Bate, executive director of the Long Island Wine Council, said more wineries are participating this year than ever before.

“Wineries and other businesses are beginning to recognize that this program has transformed this region into a winter destination,” he said.

Last year, 6,000 people bought tickets to Winterfest and an estimated 10,000 people flocked to East End wineries during Winterfest season.

After the press conference, guests drank local wine and feasted on light fare while listening to a jazz jam lead by the Steve Watson Trio, a Winterfest headliner.

Eileen Sanger and her husband Freddy Profit came to the kickoff event from Miller Place and sipped full glasses of peppery Bedell Cellars Cabernet Franc during the kickoff.

Veteran Winterfest goers, Ms. Sanger and Mr. Profit are especially excited for the Tessa Souter Group, which is performing at Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyards on Feb. 25.

“[Winterfest] is a great attraction for Long Islanders,” Ms. Sanger said. “The wineries are a nice place to spend a cold day.”

“[Local wineries] have a great product out here,” she added.

sbrix@timesreview.com

12/19/11 1:52pm
12/19/2011 1:52 PM
Calverton

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | Peter DiBernardi, owner of The Hidden Vineyard, uses a tap to pour wine out of wooden barrels.

If you’re driving along Edwards Avenue in Calverton, you might miss a couple small signs leading you down a narrow road framed with tall corn stalks to a small vineyard.

After the herb farm and after the vegetable stand — if you’re driving slow enough and really paying attention — you’ll see it: The Hidden Vineyard.

You may expect to find a rustic farmhouse beyond the rows of grapevines lining a winding gravel driveway, but standing majestically at the foot of the driveway is actually a large, newly-built colonial.

The vineyard and the house belong to 75-year-old Peter DiBernardi.

“I call it The Hidden Vineyard because nobody can find us,” Mr. DiBernardi said.

READ THE REST ON OUR WINE PRESS BLOG

11/29/11 5:17pm
11/29/2011 5:17 PM
wind turbine

EDVARD LOVAAS COURTESY PHOTO | Work has begun on a wind turbine at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic, the turbine will be the biggest in Southold Town.

This week Pindar Vineyards in Peconic will put up the biggest wind turbine in Southold Town.

Alex Damianos, who spearheaded the project at his family’s vineyard, estimates that the $550,000 turbine will supply at least 90 percent of the vineyard’s energy, which currently costs, on average, $60,000 per year.

The 100 kilowatt turbine, manufactured by Northern, is the same model installed two years ago at Half Hollow Nursery in Laurel, said Mr. Damianos, son of Pindar Vineyards owner Dan Damianos. The Laurel turbine is in Riverhead Township, which historically has allowed larger turbines. The turbine in Laurel was installed by Eastern Energy Systems, while Pindar’s turbine is being installed by GreenLogic. Southold Town did not allow turbines with power output ratings greater than 25 kilowatts until Pindar Vineyards inquired about changing the code to allow the bigger turbines this past spring.

“One hundred kilowatts was unheard of,” said Mr. Damianos, who said that he was told by the Southold building inspector that it could take up to a year to get permits for such a large turbine.

Since then, they’ve been on a mad dash to get the permits in place and the engineering done to have the turbine installed before the end of the year, in order to take advantage of a 30 percent grant from the federal government due to expire at the end of this year.

“Without the federal grant, fiscally it wouldn’t work for us,” he said.

Mr. Damianos then went to Town Supervisor Scott Russell’s office and was happily surprised to find that the Supervisor and the Town Board were eager to put the town on the cutting edge of green technology. The board quickly adopted a code change to allow turbines rated for up to 125 kilowatts.

“We got it changed in one month thanks to Scott Russell,” he said.

GreenLogic poured the concrete foundation for the turbine about a month ago, and after waiting 21 days for the concrete to cure, began to erect the tower Monday, said GreenLogic senior project manager Ashlee Reiniger, who was on the site Tuesday. By Tuesday afternoon, the turbine and blades were installed, and GreenLogic crews were wiring it up to begin producing electricity.

“This is one of the best sites we’ve tested on Long Island,” said Mr. Reiniger. “It’s just wide open. Nothing stops the wind. The development rights are intact, so we can build there, and it’s close enough to the winemaking facility to feed the wires in.”

Pindar’s turbine is the fourth one in Southold Town. Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards, McCall Vineyards and Shinn Estate Vineyards all have smaller wind turbines.

“It’s a monument now,” said Mr. Damianos. “It’s wine made by wind. Now the largest winery has the largest wind turbine.”

byoung@timesreview.com

11/21/11 4:00pm
11/21/2011 4:00 PM
Pour People

COURTESY PHOTO | Jerol Rickard, Amanda Fortuna, and Bobby Baker at the Long Island Pour Awards.

The men and women pouring wine along the wine trail are often the biggest promoters of wine clubs and winemakers. But they are not the ones getting rich off a vineyard’s success.

When it comes time for all the awards showered on the vineyard, it’s often the owners and winemakers that get all the glory.

Well, not anymore. The “Pour People” — the many men and women who man the tasting rooms in Long Island Wine Country — hosted the first-ever Long Island Pour Awards last week.

The Pour People group started in 2007 when Richard Pisacano of Roanoke Vineyards thought of hosting a party and inviting employees of neighboring tasting rooms to meet, drink and share in some trials and tribulations of what it takes to man the counter. The Pour Party was born and the turnout was a huge success.

This year Amanda Fortuna and George Romero of Roanoke Vineyards revived the group by creating a Facebook page called “The Pour People,” and they invited all their friends along the wine trail to join. All 130 of them and counting.

“We realized that we had a great group of people here,” Mr. Romero said. “We thought, ‘Hey, let’s do something with this!’”

The result was a fast and fun way for pour people to post news and events, while throwing in a few funny stories and friendly competition. And of course, where and when the next pour party is.

Jerol Rickard and Jeff Baily from Lenz thought up last week’s award ceremony.

They invented categories like “The Golden Nose Award,” “Wine Nerd Award,” The Socialite Award,” “Veteran Award,” and many more. Members were invited to nominate and vote for the pourer they thought best fit each award. Tickets were sold to cover the cost of the event, with proceeds going to Maureen’s Haven Homeless Outreach in Riverhead.

“The coolest thing about the group is that it’s all volunteer,” said Mr. Rickard. “We are all like-minded, friendly people who are supporting local businesses, better educating our customers and giving back to the community.”

The “Pour People” wined and dined at Blackwells Restaurant before heading to the Hilton Garden Inn for the awards ceremony Wednesday.

Complete with golden envelopes, members presented awards made of recycled wine bottles with a golden capsule and self-designed pour awards labels.

“I would just like to say, how can we not smile and have a great day when we are working in a beautiful area with such great people?,” said Sara Carlson of Shinn Estate Vineyards in her acceptance speech for the “Rainbows and Sunshine Award.”

Some other highlights were the male and female “Pourer of the Year Award,” which went to Mr. Rickard from Lenz and Ms. Fortuna of Roanoke. The “Wine Nerd Award” went to Chris Fanjul of The Winemaker Studio.

The first-ever awards ceremony featured huge applause, a little heckling, and lots of laughter, proving even a “Pour Person” can have his day.

11/04/11 7:00pm
11/04/2011 7:00 PM

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | Empire State Cellars tasting bar server Lucinda Bonilla serves a tasting glass of 2010 Vignoles from Hunt Country Vineyards to Lenn Thompson, executive editor of the popular wine blog, New York Cork Report.

After months of pouring, swirling and spitting wines from across the state to select bottles they consider the best, Peconic Bay Winery manager Jim Silver and his staff opened Empire State Cellars at Tanger Outlet in Riverhead on Friday.

The store is stocked with 400 different wines and spirits from New York vineyards, and Mr. Silver hopes to grow that number to 600.

“We really tasted everything we could get our hands on and selected what we thought were the best wines in the state,” he said.

Check out our Wine Press blog to read the complete story

10/25/11 4:00pm
10/25/2011 4:00 PM

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | James Ehrlein of Franklin Square and Yesenia Vasquez of East Meadow shared glasses of a 2008 Grapes of Roth Riesling and a 2007 Roanoke Vineyards Gabby’s Cabernet Franc in the wine library at Roanoke Vineyards in Riverhead.

James Ehrlein and Yesenia Vasquez spoke softly in the wine library of Roanoke Vineyards on a recent rainy afternoon as they sipped aged wine and nibbled on goat cheese drizzled with honey.

The two had come from Franklin Square and East Meadow, respectively, where they were working for Global Partners: Running Waters, a charity raising money for flood damage repairs in Central America. They said they were taking a break from fundraising in the Riverhead vineyard’s wine library, a wood-pannel room adjacent to the tasting room in the vineyard’s main building.

“Today we’re relaxing — and learning,” Mr. Ehrlein said, gesturing to his glass of Roanoke Vineyards’ 2007 Gabby’s Cabernet Franc.

The wine library, which opened this past May, is reserved for archived wines that date back to 1994 and are no longer for sale in most tasting rooms.

The library’s collection is comprised of 75 local wine bottles, tucked inside rectangular shelves, from vineyards including Roanoke, Wolffer Estate and Waters Crest Winery. Also available are bottles of Grapes of Roth, a wine company founded by Roman Roth, Roanoke’s winemaker.

“It’s a pretty serious collection,” said Steve Sandell, Roanoke Vineyards’ media and creative director. “It goes back to the Roanoke identity and philosophy — we’re really interested in and really focused on the wine,” he continued, noting that the vineyard seldom holds live music or other events that aren’t specifically focused on wine.

Mr. Sandell said the library is so far attracting people who want to learn more about the wines they’re drinking in a quiet, relaxed setting.

“We think it’s kind of cool to have a place where people can come and select an esoteric bottle of wine and enjoy themselves with it,” he said. “It’s a unique thing out here.”

Wine library patrons can purchase wine by the flight, glass or bottle. Flights, which consist of three tasting portions of different wines, are available for $16 to $18; glasses range in price from $7 to $18; and bottles can cost between $18 and $140.

The library also has its own food menu with suggested wine pairings and the wine librarian, Amanda Fortuna, who is in charge of acquiring and cataloging the bottles, is on hand to answer questions.

A series of winemaker’s roundtable events will be held throughout the year in the library where a small group, limited to 30 people, will taste and discuss wines from across the country.

The first tasting and discussion, on Nov. 19, will be led by Russell Hearn, founder of SUHRU Wines and winemaker at Pellegrini Vineyards in Cutchogue.

sbrix@timesreview.com