Tag Archive | "Roman Roth"

Dog Walks and Cocktails: Second Annual Steinbeck Festival at the Bay Street Theatre

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


Artists recreate the "Grapes of Wrath" cover on their way to the Steinbeck Festival in Salinas, California last year. Image courtesy of the National Steinbeck Center.

Artists recreate the “Grapes of Wrath” cover on their way to the Steinbeck Festival in Salinas, California last year. Photo courtesy of the National Steinbeck Center.

By Tessa Raebeck

In 1960, John Steinbeck and his French poodle Charley left their home in Sag Harbor to drive across America, meeting with strangers and staying at campgrounds in an effort to reconnect with the country the 58-year-old Steinbeck had been writing about for decades.

As part of the 2nd Annual Steinbeck Festival at Bay Street Theatre May 1 to 4, the “Travels with Charley” Dog Walk will honor Mr. Steinbeck’s account of the journey, “Travels with Charley: In Search of America,” which became a bestseller.

Author John Steinbeck.

Author John Steinbeck.

In conjunction with the annual festival hosted by the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California, the author’s birthplace, Bay Street is hosting eight film screenings and other celebratory events across four days. The festival begins Thursday, May 1 with a screening of “Tortilla Flat,” the 1942 film adaptation of Mr. Steinbeck’s 1935 novel and first commercial success. The 1992 version of “Of Mice and Men” with John Malkovich and Gary Sinise and “Grapes of Wrath” starring Henry Fonda will screen on Saturday, May 3.

Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, “Grapes of Wrath” will be further honored at a cocktail reception at a private waterfront estate sponsored in part by Wölffer Estate Vineyard Saturday evening. While sipping on the namesake vintage of Wölffer winemaker Roman Roth, “The Grapes of Roth,” guests can view Mr. Steinbeck’s home and writing studio by boat from Upper Sag Harbor Cove.

At the “Travels with Charley” Dog Walk Sunday morning, dogs and their owners will walk a loop from Bay Street to Haven’s Beach and back, finishing the festival with a “Bones and Bagels” reception at the theatre.

For $150, the VIP Pass for the festival includes the cocktail reception, film festival and dog walk. The dog walk alone is $35, film festival passes are $30 and individual film tickets are $10 each. For tickets and information, call 725-9500 or visit baystreet.org.

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.”

2010 Great? Next Week Will Tell for Local Merlots

Tags: , , ,


Merlot2

By Claire Walla

Every grape-growing region has its specialty.

Napa is known for its Cabernet Sauvignon.  Viticulturists in Oregon produce a healthy crop of Pinot Noir.  And Germans grow a nice Riesling.  But here in Long Island, hats go off to Merlot.

Choosing a region’s prime growing grape is not so much a matter of preference, as much as it’s dictated by the region itself.  Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, tends to mature better in late-season warm weather, which makes it a perfect fit for California’s temperate climate.  On the East End, where cool weather can set in as early as September, winemakers favor the red-skinned Merlot because it tends to mature much quicker than most other grapes.

And this year, according to early reports from the Long Island Merlot Alliance, the grape is shaping up to be supreme.

Roman Roth of Wölffer Estate Vineyards in Bridgehampton is the executive vice president of the Long Island Merlot Alliance. He said the grape growing weather was very cooperative in 2010.

“It was warm and there wasn’t much rain over the summer,” he said.  ”Even the hurricane missed us!”

In fact, by August 12, Long Island had amassed 2,485 “average growing degree days” for the year to date. This number is calculated by adding up all temperature degrees above 50.  In other words, an average daily temperature of 60 degrees would earn an area 10 degree points. Compared to the 2,573 tabulated in California, that puts Long Island nearly on par with the Golden State for the first half of the year, which means that, by that point, all vines had ripened under the best of possible conditions.

Humidity is unfavorable for winemakers, as it sometimes causes plants to grow fungus and rot, which allows certain diseases to take hold. Normally, Roth said he drops about 10 percent of his crop each year for weather-related issues.  But this year he didn’t need to do that.

Donnell Brown, executive director of the Long Island Merlot Alliance, said the 2010 vintage is probably the best this region’s seen since 2007. Though each winemaker “barrels” his or her wine for different amounts of time, Donnell said most keep the deep-red liquid stored for about three years, so the 2010 vintage won’t be available until 2013.

Merlot is typically harvested in early October, which means that each winery’s Merlot cache is currently barreled and experiencing its first round of fermentation. In fact, on Friday, January 21, representatives from each of the seven members of the Merlot Alliance will gather for the first taste test of the year. Each will bring barrel samples from his or her 2010 Merlot so that the group can analyze the crop.

The group will test the wine for such scientific components as its Brix level, a measure of the wine’s sugar content, and its pH level, which will determine the degree of tannins (or acidity) in the wine.   After tasting each sample and comparing notes, the group will try to determine a profile for Long Island Merlot, which, the Alliance hopes, will eventually help give the wine a certain foothold in the national, and ultimately, the international market.

Because of Long Island’s cooler climate, it was thought at one point that the area might make a nice breeding ground for white wine, which tends to grow well in the cold.  But according to Russ McCall, newly elected president of the Merlot Alliance, white wine has a growing season that typically lasts about a year, making it less expensive than the reds, which sit for years in large oak barrels that come at a price tag around $1,000 each.  Because they aren’t aged, whites don’t carry the same bold flavor as the area’s reds.

In addition to touting the pure grape, McCall added that Merlot is a great blending wine.

“It creates a soft pad that all other wines sink into,” he said, noting that the bold flavor, often described as having the taste of cherry, current or plum, mixes nicely with other wines.  ”It’s not just about Merlot. It’s about producing high-quality wine.”

“We believe that if you want to taste the Merlots of the world, Long Island Merlot needs to be in [the mix],” he said.  ”We’re working hard to make it a real flagship on Long Island.”