Wine library at Roanoke offers quiet place to learn about wines

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.

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