Tag Archive | "Long Island"

Long Island Potato Festival Announces Winners of Mashed Potato Sculpting and Other Contests

Tags: , , , , , ,


A contestant in the Mashed Potato Sculpting at this year's Long Island Potato Festival in Cutchogue.

A contestant in the Mashed Potato Sculpting at this year’s Long Island Potato Festival in Cutchogue. Photo by Karl Mischler.

By Tessa Raebeck

If there’s one thing Long Island’s good at, it’s potatoes. The first annual Long Island Potato Festival, celebrating the skill that creates such beloved gems as potato chips and French fries, kicked off Sunday, August 10, at the Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue.

With contests like The Great Potato Peeling Race and Mashed Potato Sculpting, spud-lovers from across Long Island competed to prove their love for potatoes.

LIPotatoFest3 copy

The adult winner of the Mashed Potato Sculpting contest, “Rose” by Alexandra Palermo of Massapequa. Photo by Karl Mischler.

Peeling in Public, a team out of East Patchogue who peeled a whopping 261 ounces, won The Great Potato Peeling Race team trophy. The individual award went to Sinisa Savnik of Mastic, who peeled 97.8 ounces.

The Crazy Fork in Mattituck won the Best Potato Salad professional division with its stuffed potato salad, and Loretta Garland of Sayville took home the home cook division with “Moma Molloys Red Bliss Potato Salad.”

The trophies in Mashed Potato Sculpting in the child, youth and adult divisions went to a mashed potato sunflower, a puppy and a rose, respectively. The fastest adult in the Mashed Potato Eating contest was Matthew Galli of Greenlawn, who devoured the two pounds on his plate in two minutes and 14 seconds.

Clearly a big success, the Long Island Potato Festival is planning on returning next year with more contests and contestants and, you guessed it, potatoes.

Keep your eyes peeled to LIPotatoFest.com for updates.

East End Weekend: Top Picks for What To Do

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Andrew Wyeth, Sail Loft, 1983, Watercolor on paper, 22 x 29 ½ inches.

Andrew Wyeth, Sail Loft, 1983, Watercolor on paper, 22 x 29 ½ inches.

By Tessa Raebeck

The weather’s supposed to be perfect this weekend, why not end a long day at the beach with a great evening out? Here are some entertainment ideas for this weekend on the East End:

 

Rosé Week at the Wölffer Estate Vineyard

Running Friday, June 20 through Thursday, June 26, the Wölffer Estate Vineyard is celebrating its specialty: Rosé, or “summer in a bottle,” as the vineyard calls it.

Wölffer No. 139 dry rosé hard cider.

Wölffer No. 139 dry rosé hard cider.

On Friday at 8 p.m. at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, the winery’s famed vintage will be available before the Rufus Wainwright concert. For tickets, visit whbpac.org.

The rosé travels Saturday to the Group for the East End’s “Here Comes the Sun!” benefit, at the vineyard from 6 to 11 p.m. The fairly new and equally delicious No. 139 Rosé Cider will be poured for gala guests. For information and tickets, visit groupfortheeastend.org.

Rounding out the weekend—but not the rosé week, which goes till Wednesday—on Sunday on the lawn of the Wölffer residence, “A Taste of Provence” lunch from 1 to 4 p.m. will give guests not just a taste of rosé, but also of a grand meal prepared by Chef Christian Mir of the Stone Creek Inn. The event is reserved for Wölffer Wine Club Members.

For more information on rosé week, visit wolffer.com.

 

“Under the Influence” at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum

Pairing contemporary artists’ works with those of the artists who have inspired them, “Under the Influence” offers a collection of masters and mentees at the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum.

Curated by local gallery owner Peter J. Marcelle, the exhibition explores the relationship between nine contemporary artists and the greats whose influence got them started.

The pairs, with the contemporary artist first, are: Terry Elkins with Andrew Wyeth, Eric Ernst with William Baziotes, Cornelia Foss with Larry Rivers, Steve Miller with Andy Warhol, Dan Rizzie with Donald Sultan, Stephen Schaub with Alfred Stieglitz, Mike Viera with Eric Fischl and Gavin Zeigler with William Scharf.

An opening reception is Friday, June 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Sag Harbor Whaling & Historical Museum, located at 200 Main Street in Sag Harbor. All sales benefit the museum. For more information, call (631) 613-6170.

 

Artists Against Abuse to Benefit The Retreat

To benefit The Retreat, the domestic violence services agency in East Hampton, Artists Against Abuse will be held in Bridgehampton Saturday, June 21.

The event, with the theme of Midsummer Night Fever, brings artists, philanthropists and residents from across the East End together in support of The Retreat, eastern Long Island’s only comprehensive domestic violence services organization.

The event will feature Congressman Tim Bishop and actress and social advocate Rachel Grant.

“The World Health Organization reports that in some countries, up to 70 percent of women report having been victims of domestic violence at some stage in their lives,” said Congressman Tim Bishop in a press release. “I have always been a strong advocate for the needs and rights of women. Women play integral roles in the global community and they deserve to be treated with respect by their male counterparts.

The benefit begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Ross School Lower Campus Field House on Butter Lane in Bridgehampton. For more information, visit artistsagainstabuse.com.

 

Shop Til You Drop for Katy’s Courage

Looking for a good reason to shop? Katy’s Courage, a not-for-profit in honor of Katy Stewart, a beloved Sag Harbor resident who passed away at age 12 from a rare form of liver cancer, invites you to shop ‘til you drop for a good cause.

On Saturday from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Sequin in Southampton will be serving cocktails while shoppers browse through designer Gabby Sabharwal’s new swimsuit line, Giejo, and create their own necklaces.

Sequin is located at 20 Jobs Lane in Southampton. For more information, call (631) 353-3137.

Rabbi Morris and Family Depart for Jerusalem

Tags: , ,


Berkowitz-Morris Family Photo

Rabbi Leon Morris, his wife is Dasee Berkowitz and children Yael, Shalva and Tamir. Photography by Rob Chron.
By Karl Grossman

In January, Rabbi Leon Morris wrote to his congregants at Temple Adas Israel, informing them of his decision to move, with his family, to Israel. And next week, the rabbi and his wife, Dasee Berkowitz, who has been integral to the education program at the Sag Harbor synagogue, and their children, Tamir, Yael and Shalva, will depart for Jerusalem.

There, Rabbi Morris will be a vice president of the Shalom Hartman Institute. From Temple Adas Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation on Long Island, he will be joining an organization that describes itself as “a center of transformative thinking and teaching that addresses the major challenges facing the Jewish people and elevates the quality of Jewish life in Israel and around the world.”

For 15 years, Rabbi Morris has been rabbi at Temple Adas Israel, for the past four as the first full-time rabbi in its 118-year history.

“Rabbi Morris has become the pied piper of Sag Harbor,” said Temple Adas Israel President Neal Fagin, an engineer from Sag Harbor. Rabbi Morris has “taken our temple” from a limited mostly vacation season synagogue “to one where there are activities every day all-year round. We leave our shabbat services with a smile. When Leon conducts his last service, there will be smiles but not a dry eye.”

Dr. Perry Silver speaks of how “since our first meeting, I have never seen Rabbi Leon Morris without an open heart and a broad welcoming smile on his face. I once confided to Leon that I doubted the existence of God. Leon then said to me: ‘Here’s a million dollars, now make me an apple!’ I capitulated,” said the Sag Harbor dentist.

Members of the temple say Rabbi Morris has been transformative figure in their lives.

“Before meeting Leon, my spirituality and religious observance was sitting on a shelf gathering dust and aging none too gracefully, said psychiatrist Brad Tepper of Noyac. “Through Leon’s ever-present compassion, empathy and love, I felt brave enough to dust off a part of my soul and with his nurturance, allowed it to grow.”

My life has been transformed by Leon’s presence at Temple Adas Israel,” said Julie Tatkon Kent of Sag Harbor, a social worker and former New York Police Department officer. “Although I was born a Jew, I was raised a Christian.” Rabbi Morris “reconnected me to my Judaism with his compassion, his kindness and love—and his passion for being a rabbi.  He is a true teacher. He is a gentle soul. Leon Morris is my spiritual hero.” She accompanied him on a recent trip to Israel, and “it was there, in Israel, I saw, I felt, I knew—Leon is an Israeli.”

It’s “a very idyllic life we’ve had in Sag Harbor,” related Rabbi Morris in an interview about a village noted for being charming, picturesque, a magnet for writers, artists and other creative people.

Still, as he wrote in a recent Temple Adas Israel newsletter: “Israel stands at the center of our Jewish lives. Not only does Israel represent a singular opportunity in modern Jewish history; it represents a renewal and rebirth for the Jewish people.”

“Israel,” Rabbi Morris wrote, “is the one place where we can make something concrete from Jewish ideas and values that were largely theoretical for 2,000 years. There is nothing theoretical about a state, and about a society. Israel gives us the opportunity to build something out of those ideas and values…. It is a living laboratory of Jewish life.”

Rabbi Morris is originally from Connellsville, Pennsylvania, a small town 57 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Two sets of great-grandparents started stores there. In high school, the only Jew in his class, he was “very open about being Jewish.” And although his family wasn’t observant, he sought to be. As a youngster, “I asked my mother to light candles on Friday evening.” He was driven to services at the nearest synagogue, 30 miles away.

At the University of Pittsburgh, he majored in religious studies, spent a semester at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and backpacked in 1989 through eastern Europe, visiting “endangered Jewish communities.”

And between college and rabbinical studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he worked with the Jewish community of Mumbai, India, as a Jewish Service Corps volunteer for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

On a return visit to Mumbai in 2003, he met Dasee Berkowitz, who was doing educational work there. A Barnard graduate with a master’s degree in Jewish education from Hebrew University, Ms. Berkowitz’s mother is from the Baghdadi Jewish community that came to Calcutta in the 18th and 19th centuries. A Massachusetts native, she had been living in Israel for a decade. They married in 2005.

After being ordained a rabbi at Hebrew Union, Rabbi Morris for three years was director of New York Kollel: A Center for Adult Jewish Study, and then he founded and for 10 years was executive director of the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan.

He succeeded Rabbi Paul Steinberg as rabbi of Temple Adas Israel. Rabbi Steinberg, in a long succession of part-time rabbis at the synagogue, was otherwise vice president of Hebrew Union. In his last of 20 years at Temple Adas Israel, Rabbi Steinberg would have Rabbi Morris substitute for him at times.

In 2010, Temple Adas Israel made a commitment to having a full-time rabbi and Rabbi Morris, Dasee and their first child, Tamir, moved to Sag Harbor from Manhattan. Rabbi Morris and Dasee immersed themselves in making the temple a bustling, busy full-time synagogue.

Indeed, the rabbi gives enormous credit to his wife for much of its growth. “Dasee has been much more than the rabbi’s wife,” he said. “The biggest, most important change” at Temple Adas Israel has been the drawing in of “families with small children as part of the congregation” and initiatives such as a pre-school program and a mothers’ network. “That’s all Dasee,” he said. The “young families are the ones that are going to drive the character of the synagogue.”

Margaret Bromberg, who has been involved with Temple Adas Israel since she was 10 years old, growing up in Sag Harbor in the 1950s, and is a former president of the congregation, said that when she retired as a social worker a few years ago, “one of my goals was to be available for more observance of various Jewish holidays.”

She added, though, “I was uncertain that a full-time rabbinical presence was going to be good for me, for our community. After all, for as long as anyone could remember, Temple Adas Israel had never had a full-time rabbi. This meant that we were somehow free from the authority which a rabbi might bring to various individuals’ daily, weekly, monthly, or perhaps, even annual observance of Jewish law and customs…Rabbi Morris has, in a quiet, gentle, unassuming way, made it possible for me to approximate my initial goal.”

Sag Harbor real estate broker David Weseley, who was “lucky to be on” the trip to Israel with Rabbi Morris speaks of how “through his leadership we met with many agents of change in Israel, learned a ton about the country and its people, had many moments of spiritual discovery and sharing, opened up in surprising ways to each other, and came home as a vibrant and energized group. Not coincidentally, what was accomplished on this trip reflects so many of Leon’s outstanding skills and qualities:  he is an educator, scholar, spiritual leader and consummate community builder. Leon is that remarkable combination of brilliant and charismatic and warm and above all considerate.”

David Lee of East Hampton, long a businessman in Sag Harbor, several times the temple’s president and currently its secretary, tells of arriving in Sag Harbor after World War II service in the British army and looking for a synagogue. “I found Temple Adas Israel on the hill. It was in poor shape both physically and from a membership point of view. We hoped and prayed that we could bring it back to life. After over 60 years I’m happy to report that all is well. Much of our success is due to the fact that we have had Leon and Dasee with us.”

Rabbi Morris is being succeeded at Temple Adas Israel by Rabbi Daniel Geffen, who has just been ordained by Hebrew Union College. He is from a family of rabbis—his brother is a rabbi, their grandfather a rabbi, and a great-grandfather also a rabbi—and he, too, is a warm, personable, caring and a learned rabbi. He is coming to Sag Harbor with his wife, Luanne (Lu) who is also a Jewish educator with a combined master’s degree in Jewish education and non-profit management from Hebrew Union.

Rabbi Geffen says that “to be following in the footsteps of Rabbi Morris and Dasee is both a great privilege and a great responsibility.  “Thus, my vision,” he says, “is to do whatever I can to continue the tradition of warmth, openness and acceptance that has been established by Rabbi Morris and our rabbinic predecessors, and to work together with this amazing and unique community to build a more just and righteous society here in Sag Harbor and indeed, throughout this all-too-fractured world.”

Wine Spectator Recognizes Long Island’s Rising Tide of Great Wines

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Wölffer No. 139 dry rosé hard cider. Photo courtesy Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

Wölffer No. 139 dry rosé hard cider. Photo courtesy Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

By Tessa Raebeck

After years of falling by the wayside in conversations about great American wine, the coastal vineyards of Long Island are finally getting the recognition they deserve.

In the June 15 issue of Wine Spectator, Ben O’Donnell writes of “Long Island’s Rising Tide,” focusing on three local wineries, the Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, and McCall Wines and Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue.

“It’s an exciting time for Long Island wine,” writes Mr. O’Donnell.

Winemaker Roman Roth created Wölffer’s signature rosé in the 1990s, when neither the wine nor the region were as well known. Today, the vineyard sells 17,000 cases of rosé a year—usually selling out by August—and 37,500 cases overall. It recently delved into the hard cider market with “Wölffer No. 139” dry rosé and dry white ciders.

With sustainable farming, organic cattle raising and credit as the first vineyard to erect an energy-generating windmill, McCall Wines in Cutchogue is at the forefront of modern agriculture. A relatively new winery, the first vintage bottled in 2007, McCall’s Bordeaux blend is a Merlot-dominated cuvee with a measure of Cabernet Franc and splashes of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

A huge force in popularizing Merlot in the region, Bedell Cellars, also in Cutchogue, produces 12,000 to 15,000 cases a year. Bedell bottles are decorated by artists, a creative addition of owner Michael Lynne, who is also president of New Line Cinema.

“These exemplars,” writes Mr. O’Donnell, “are pushing themselves, and each other, to capture the best possible wines from what the land—and the sea—gives them.”

PSEG Phone Scams Continue on South Fork

Tags: , , , , ,


An ongoing scam attempting to get PSEG Long Island customers to fork over money under the threat of having electricity service terminated continued this week, with business owners on Main Street in Sag Harbor reporting they had received phone calls from an individual named “Anthony Garcia” stating they owed money to the utility and asking them to pay an outstanding bill over the phone.

On April 8, two business owners contacted Sag Harbor Village Police to report an attempted scam. According to police, while two businesses filed formal reports, other businesses reported similar phone calls with a man stating he would shut off electrical power if customers did not make payment within hours via a Green Dot Money Pak, a prepaid card available at local retailers.

This has been an ongoing scam and PSEG is aware of the situation, according to a “scam alert” section of the utility’s website. Email scams have also been reported. The utility urges any customer who has doubts about the legitimacy of a call from PSEG, especially those where payment is requested, to call the company directly at 1-800-490-0025.

American Beer Giant Anheuser-Busch Purchases Long Island’s Blue Point Brewing Company

Tags: , , , , , ,


BluePoint

By Tessa Raebeck

Long Island’s first microbrewery, Blue Point Brewing Company has been purchased by the American beer giant Anheuser-Busch. Founded in 1998 in Patchogue by two beer-loving friends, Mark Burford and Peter Cotter, Blue Point retains its tagline as “Long Island’s Brewery,” but is now on tap at bars across the country, brewing some 60,000 barrels a year.

On February 5, it was announced that Anheuser-Busch InBev, the country’s largest brewer and the supplier of its top-selling beer, Bud Light, as well as Budweiser, Stella Artois and Beck’s, has agreed to buy the Blue Point Brewing Company.

The deal will help Blue Point expand while allowing Anheuser-Busch to capitalize on the growing popularity of craft beer, the announcement said. Blue Point will continue to operate out of Patchogue and to sell its local brews, including the popular flagship Toasted Lager, as well as Hoptical Illusion, Blueberry Ale and Toxic Sludge.

“Together, our talented brewing team and Anheuser-Busch will have the resources to create new and exciting beers and share our portfolio with even more beer lovers,” Mr. Burford said in a statement.

“As we welcome Blue Point into the Anheuser-Busch family of brands, we look forward to working with Mark and Peter to accelerate the growth of the Blue Point portfolio and expand to new markets, while preserving the heritage and innovation of the brands,” Luiz Edmond, the President of the North American branch of Anheuser-Busch InBev said in a statement.

The move will allow Mr. Burford and Mr. Cotter to spread their business philosophy, already well understood on Long Island: “Good people drink good beer.”

Barking and Basking, The Seals Return to Montauk for the Winter

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


A harbor seal sunning on the jetty at Georgica Beach in East Hampton. (Photo by Tessa Raebeck).

A harbor seal sunning on the jetty at Georgica Beach in East Hampton. (Photo by Tessa Raebeck).

By Tessa Raebeck

While most visitors to Montauk’s beaches come only in the summer months, at least one group prefers to spend the off-season basking in the sun. Harbor seals, once hunted as bounty and nearly depleted in the Northeast, are now abundant on the East End each winter.

Most of the seals in local waters are harbor seals, but grey, hooded, ringed and harp seals have also been spotted. The East Hampton Trails Preservation Society hopes to see at least one type of seal this Saturday, at a guided two and a half mile hike that weaves through a wooded trail along the bluffs in Montauk and ends, ideally, with a display of seals sunning themselves by the shore.

Several Northeast states enacted seal bounty programs in the late 1800s, and substantial catching and hunting contributed to a severe depletion of the seal population in local waters. A bounty program in Massachusetts existed until 1962.

Ten years later in 1972, the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act largely prohibited the “take” of marine mammals in U.S. waters or by U.S. citizens anywhere.

The seal population began to recover following its passage, according to Gordon Waring, who leads the seal program at NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

The number of seals on the Long Island shore has continued to rise.

Dr. Arthur Kopelman, field biologist and president of the Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island (CRESLI), has tracked changes in seal species, abundance and distribution in the Long Island Sound since 1995.

“What I’ve seen is a dramatic increase in population of harbor seals,” Kopelman said last week.

Harbor seals, Dr. Kopelman said, come down to New York from areas further North and usually stay from September to May, with the population generally peaking in late March in Westhampton Beach, his current area of research.

They have a cute, dog-like appearance and when flared, their nostrils resemble a cartoon heart. About six feet long, harbor seals are various shades of blue-gray, white or brown and covered in speckled spots.

If you’ve seen a seal on the East End, chances are it was a harbor seal.

They represent 95 percent of local seals. Dr. Kopelman counted 55 seals in Westhampton just last week, the vast majority of which were harbor seals.

Montauk has more grey seals than Westhampton, the population ecologist said, although the majority are still harbor seals. He has seen the rocks in Montauk filled with hundreds of barking seals in the past.

If harbor seals look like dogs, grey seals look like horses. Grey seals, larger and more aggressive with long faces and large snouts, account for four percent of the local seal population.

Adult males can weigh as much as 700 pounds; double the size of adult male harbor seals.

Dr. Kopelman said according to anecdotal evidence, the grey seal population in local waters is increasing. Typically classified as seasonal visitors like harbor seals, it appears grey seals – like many before them – have become attached to the area and are staying on the East End year round.

“In fact,” Dr. Kopelman said, “there are some folks who seem to indicate that there’s a year round presence of grey seals out here. Although, again, that’s somewhat anecdotal – but probably correct.”

The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation has rescued and rehabilitated many newborn seals recently, but it is not officially confirmed the pups were born in the area.

According to Dr. Kopelman, female harbor seals are often pregnant while here but typically head back North before giving birth to their pups, which can swim minutes after being born. It is “likely,” however, that grey seals are giving birth locally.

The remaining one percent of local seals – harp, hooded and ringed seals – come from as far north as the Arctic.

“They are less frequently encountered,” said Dr. Kopelman, “but they are encountered.”

The Seal Haul Out Hike will take place on Saturday, December 28 at 10 a.m. at Camp Hero Road in Montauk. For more information, contact Eva Moore at the East Hampton Trails Preservation Society at (631) 238-5134 or sharstat@yahoo.com.

South Fork Gas Prices Drop

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,


New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr.  announced late last week his most recent survey of gasoline prices. According to that survey, South Fork prices have declined $0.08 since the last survey late in October.

Long Island prices have increased by $0.09 cents during the same period. South Fork prices are now $0.03 cents above the state and Long Island average. South Fork gas prices were $0.20 cents higher than the Long Island average in October. That differential has decreased by $0.17 cents since October when it was $0.20 cents.

The Automobile Association of America (AAA) provides for a regional survey on New York State gasoline prices. However, there is no survey solely for the South Fork. Thiele’s survey also includes prices in western Southampton along Montauk Highway.

“The average price for East Hampton and Southampton along Montauk Highway excluding Amagansett and Montauk is now $3.69,” said Thiele.  “The average price for Amagansett and Montauk is $4.09. A gallon of gas on the North Fork is now about $3.59. The LI average is $3.66 and the State average is $3.66.”

East End Winemakers Call 2013 Best Vintage Yet

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Grapes being picked at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead. Photo by John Neely.

Grapes being picked at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead. Photo by John Neely.

By Tessa Raebeck

As if anyone needed another reason to drink wine, the 2013 vintage is the best local winemakers on both forks have ever seen.

“It’s really spectacular,” said Roman Roth, winemaker for the Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack. “You hear about these fabled vintages like ’76 and ’45 – this is one that we have.”

“The entire East End is producing great wines,” agreed winemaker Juan Micieli-Martinez of Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead.

Winemakers were nervous last spring, when May was a particularly rainy month and June was the second wettest on record. They soon found their worry was preemptive.

“Then came the most fantastic summer,” said Roth. A heat wave in July followed by a generally dry, long summer helped the winemakers to overcome the wet spring.

The summer was good, but the fall was better.

“What almost always makes a fine harvest – an excellent harvest – is a sunny, dry fall,” explained Larry Perrine, winemaker at Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton. “It doesn’t have to be hot, but it’s sunny and dry. And basically from Labor Day on, it didn’t rain. It rained the day after Labor Day and then it didn’t rain for the next seven weeks.”

The dry weather moves the ripening schedule of the fruit forward, preventing any rot. Because the fall was dry without being too hot, the tender varieties were not adversely affected. The yields were substantial and the quality superior across the board, ensuring that the 2013 vintage is excellent for whites, rosés and reds.

“All conditions were great,” said Lisa Freedman, a PR representative for Martha Clara Vineyards, “as far as weather and Mother Nature – and there were no hurricanes.”

Regions renowned for wine, such as Friuli, Italy or Bordeaux, France, have heavy rainfall during the growing season and a dry end of season. This year, the East End of Long Island got a taste of that perfect wine weather.

2010 previously held the crown as the best year in local winemakers’ memory and 2012 was also a landmark year, but it just keeps getting better, they say.

“There’s a lot of great wines up in the pipeline,” said Roth. “But it will all be topped by this 2013 – that’s for sure.”

The sun rises over the harvest at Wölffer Estate Winery in Sagaponack.

The sun rises over the harvest at Wölffer Estate Winery in Sagaponack.

Since he started making wine in 1982, Roth has seen maybe three lots (batches separated by varietal, date picked or vineyard section) “that are really special” each year.

“But this year,” he said. “We have thirty lots. The lots came in with the highest color, the deepest color, so it’s an amazing opportunity where you have lots of options for great wines.”

The first 2013 wines released will be the rosés in the early spring, followed fairly quickly by the aromatic, fresh white wines, such as sauvignon blancs. Fermented in stainless steel and bottled early, those white wines will be released by the spring or summer of 2014. Other whites fermented in oak, like Chardonnays, could take as long as 2015.

The reds take the longest, spending at least a year in the cellar. Channing Daughters is just now bottling its 2012 reds, so 2013 reds won’t be available for over a year, most likely two. At Wölffer, the top 2013 reds won’t be released until 2016. As Roth said, “good wine takes time.”

The goal of the North Fork’s Lenz Winery in Peconic is to release wine that “will be among the very best of its type, made anywhere in the world.”

Several years ago, that would have been a bold claim for a Long Island winery to make, but these days, it appears to be quite realistic.

Micieli-Martinez calls it the “Napa-fication” of Long Island’s wine industry, referring to the initial disregard of Napa Valley wines. It was believed California couldn’t compete with French and Italian wines, but today Napa Valley is considered to be one of the world’s premier wine regions.

“I think it contributes to the growing really positive perception…of the quality of Long Island wines and of New York wines in general,” Perrine said of the 2013 harvest. “It does improve steadily the reputation of the wines as being first-rate, world class wines.”

“It’s truly a special year,” the 30-year winemaker continued. “We’ll always remember.”

“It’s just perfect,” said Roth. “It’s a dream come true, basically.”

Plum Island: Sitting Duck

Tags: , , , ,


By Karl Grossman

The National Research Council issued a report this month identifying “a number of deficiencies” in an “updated risk assessment” done by the federal government for the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) it wants to build in Kansas to replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center just off Long Island.

Congressman Tim Bishop, who has been challenging the project, issued a statement praising the report because “it bolsters” his view “that building NBAF in America’s agricultural heartland…is unacceptably risky.” He cited “the potentially devastating consequences of a release of the most virulent animal diseases in the heart of cattle country.” The Southampton Democrat also cited, as he has repeatedly, “the jobs of over 100 Long Islanders” threatened by the closure of the Plum Island center, and the NBAF’s $1 billion cost.

Randy Altschuler, a St. James Republican now in a second run to replace Mr. Bishop, although differing with him on most issues, on this agreed. He said in an interview last week that building the NBAF in Kansas to replace the Plum Island center “doesn’t make any sense.”

The National Research Council report, done by a variety of experts in veterinary medicine, engineering and other fields, said the “updated risk assessment” was an improvement over a 2010 “version.” But it still “underestimates the risk of an accidental pathogen release.” It said “the updated probabilities of release are based on overly optimistic and unsupported estimates of human-error rates” and “low estimates of infectious material available for release.”  Of great concern is the impact of a release on the many livestock, notably cattle, in the region. The malady on which most research on Plum Island is done, to be taken over by the NBAF, is foot-and-mouth disease which affects cattle.

But a release from Plum Island could impact on the many people in this region — and there have been releases at the Plum Island center. While Kansas is a center for cattle-raising in the United States, Plum Island is in close proximity to a national center of human population — a mile-and-a-half off the North Fork of Long Island with crowded Long Island and then New York City to its west, Connecticut, Rhode Island and then Boston to its north, .

Untrue is the claim — repeated this month by CBS News’ “Sunday Morning” which presented a segment on Plum Island — that there isn’t a link between diseases studied there and people. CBS reported that “the government says the germs stored on the island only affect animals.”

As noted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in its 2003 report about the danger of terrorism and the Plum Island center, a camel pox strain researched at it could be converted into “an agent as threatening as smallpox,” and the Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus worked on could be “developed into a human biowarfare agent.” The GAO declared that there is a substantial risk that “an adversary might try to steal pathogens” from Plum Island and use them against people or animals in the U.S. Further, it said, the center “was not designed to be a highly secure facility.”

And it can never be. Plum Island sits exposed amid busy marine traffic lanes. The main Plum Island laboratory sits astride a beach.

Moreover, the Plum Island center has been on the target list of al Qaeda. In 2010, Aafia Siddiqui, dubbed “Lady al Qaeda,” was convicted in Manhattan of attempted murder. Among the documents in her possession when she was captured in Afghanistan in 2008 were hand-written notes about a “mass-casualty attack” and targets including: the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty—and the Plum Island center. Also found with Pakistan-born Dr. Siddiqui (who has a doctorate in neuroscience from MIT) were jars of poisonous chemicals and details on chemical, biological and radiological weapons. A relative of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, she was found guilty of trying to kill Americans who came to question her. In 2002, U.S. Army commandos and CIA agents found a dossier on the Plum Island center in a raid on the Afghanistan residence of nuclear physicist Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, an associate of Osama bin Laden.

Plum Island is a sitting duck for terrorists. That’s a major reason why the Department of Homeland Security, which after 9/11 took over running the center from the Department of Agriculture, wants it replaced by the NBAF. But can’t the proposed NBAF be put in a highly-secure location that is not in a center of cattle or of people?