Tag Archive | "wine"

Merliance Wine Trail

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The Long Island Merlot Alliance announced the formation of its Merliance Wine Trail, which opened on May 24 to celebrate the release of its highly anticipated 2011 merliance cooperative red blend.

The Merliance Wine Trail allows attendees to taste world-class merlots and merliance wine at the seven participating wineries located in the Hamptons or on the North Fork. The wineries are Sherwood House Vineyards, Clovis Point, T’Jara Vineyards, McCall Wines, Lieb Cellars, Raphael and Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

Attendees can pick up a Merliance Trail Map at any one of the seven member wineries. Visitors will be able to gain valuable knowledge about merlot and merlot-based varietals, according to the press release. After each visit, the winery will stamp the visitor’s card and at the completion of the trail, attendees will receive a free bottle of merliance wine.

The merliance wine is a blend of 100-percent merlot from each of the wineries. A bottle costs $35.

“Long Island is one of the few places in the world that provides the best opportunity for growing and producing world-class wines substantially comprised of the merlot grape.” Roman Roth, president of LIMA, said. “We have wonderful growing conditions to make a special merlot and it shows that we are taking this grape variety seriously.”

For more information, visit LIMA’s website at www.longislandmerlot.com.

Trivia Night at Wölffer Estate Vineyard with Local Quizmaster Paul Johnson

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By Tessa Raebeck

As part of its Locals Nights series, the Wölffer Estate Vineyard hosts Trivia Night with Paul Johnson Tuesday, April 1.

In teams of up to five, players will compete for prizes in rounds on topics ranging from wine to celebrity gossip.

Mr. Johnson has made a name for himself on the local bar game scene hosting the popular Thursday night trivia game at Townline Barbeque in Sagaponack.

“When I’m coming up with questions, I like to strike a balance between fun and challenging,” Mr. Johnson said. “If it’s too easy, the hardcore trivia fans are going to be disappointed. Too difficult and the casual players won’t want to come back. When I’m hosting, I want everyone to enjoy themselves—myself included.”

“On any given night, there could be one round about classic literature, one about celebrity marriages, one about fast food; it’s really limitless. I just try to make sure that there’s something for everyone,” he added.

With half-price glasses of wine and rotating themes for a cover charge of $10, Locals Nights at Wölffer are every Tuesday from 4 to 8 p.m. Trivia will run from 6 to 8 p.m. For more information, visit wolffer.com or call 537-5106.

Poetry and Wine: Locals Night at Wölffer Estate Vineyard

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Locals nights are every Tuesday at Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

Locals nights are every Tuesday at Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

By Tessa Raebeck

What will bring locals out of their winter hibernation for a springtime Tuesday night? Wine and poetry is a good place to start. As part of its Locals Night series, the Wölffer Estate Vineyard is hosting an evening of local poets, complimented by half-priced glasses of local wine.

Scott Chaskey, the “poet farmer,” published author and farm director at the Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett, will read selections of his work, as will his wife Megan. Local poets Julia King, Lucas Hunt, Tom Oleszczuk and Ivo Tomasini will also perform.

“Come support two thriving, local art forms: winemaking and poetry, while enjoying great local wines,” said event organizer Tyler Armstrong, a local ecologist who will host the evening and read selections of his own poems.

The evening of poetry, wine and local friends is Tuesday, April 29 from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Wölffer Estate Vineyard, 139 Sagg Road in Sagaponack. With a $10 entry fee, half-price glasses of wine are available from 4 to 8 p.m. For more information, call 537-5106 or visit wolffer.com.

Local Winemakers to Share that Delicious Creativity

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Event photo courtesy of Parrish Art Museum.

Event photo courtesy of Parrish Art Museum.

By Tessa Raebeck

Coming off one of the best vintage years Long Island wine has ever seen, three of the region’s leading winemakers will share what inspires them – and allow others to taste that inspiration.

On Friday, the Parrish Art Museum presents “How Do You Bottle Creativity?” a winetasting and interactive conversation with Barbara Shinn, owner/viticulturist at Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck, Kareem Massoud, winemaker at Paumanok Vineyards in Jamesport, and Christopher Tracy, winemaker/partner at Channing Daughters in Bridgehampton.

Long Island’s moderate maritime climate, long growing season, concentration of small growers and proximity to the giant wine market of New York City have enabled the farmers in pursuit of their primary goal: making delicious wine. Long overlooked by connoisseurs and locals alike, Long Island wine is proving itself in tasting tests and on restaurant menus; three of the last four years have seen exceptional vintages across the island.

“It was really a beautiful year and we’re seeing that right now in the barrel,” said Ms. Shinn of the 2013 vintage, which many local winemakers heralded as the best they’ve seen.

“I think the adjective ‘epic’ really applies here,” agreed Mr. Massoud. “It was a truly epic vintage here, it was amazing. I already bottled six wines from 2013 and they’re all delicious. They’re all some of the best we’ve made.”

“Both the science and the hedonistic sides line up in a region like ours to allow for great diversity of varieties and styles of wine, which is somewhat unusual in North America,” explained Mr. Tracy.

Mr. Tracy came to Channing Daughters from a family “that drank wine and food and traveled and exposed me to those things,” and eventually purchased a California vineyard. Having attended school for performing arts and philosophy, he changed direction after exploring the Long Island wine region in the mid-‘90s, returning to wine via “life’s crazy circuitous route.”

A background in art and philosophy may not seem relevant to winemaking, but Mr. Tracy’s love for creativity and appreciation of beauty have enhanced his craft.

“The two things are deliciousness and reflection of our place,” he said of his priorities. “It’s important that we make things that are delicious that people want to drink and enjoy and excite them and their senses. And that it reflects the climate, terra, the place, the culture where we’re growing our grapes and making wine.”

“If we can provide that something that’s actually delicious and actually tells the story of the little piece of land where we exist and where we grow grapes and make wine, that’s pretty awesome,” he added.

The island’s first second generation winemaker, Mr. Massoud learned the trade from his parents, Ursula and Charles, who founded Paumanok Vineyards in 1983 and still own and operate it today. Named after the Native American name for Long Island, Paumanok Vineyards is “very much a family affair,” Mr. Massoud said, with his brothers Nabeel and Salim also working at the vineyard.

“My orientation as a winemaker, in terms of what inspires me, is not unlike what a chef probably experiences in a restaurant – and that is to just produce the most delicious wine that I can, it’s pretty much that simple,” he said. “It’s always about making the best wine and what does that mean? It means the most delicious.”

His inspiration also stems from the excitement of being a winemaker on Long Island these days, when recognition is rising for the region’s wines.

“Honestly, the quality of the wines in many cases has been there for quite some time already, but more and more people, I think, are beginning to sort of catch on to the reality that world-class wines are being made right in their backyard,” he said.

“We fancy ourselves artists as winemakers,” he added. “We basically have, on Long Island, a very broad palette of colors to choose from…It’s a lot of fun to be able to do all these different varieties and different styles and pair them with the local produce that the East End is so rich with.”

Having earned a master’s degree in fine art, Ms. Shinn also views her craft as an extension of her art, farming using holistic practices and keeping the farm “in tune with the subtleness of nature.”

“When David [Page] and I moved to New York City,” she said of her partner and co-owner at Shinn Estate Vineyards, “I was beginning to question making art and hanging it on a wall. When we brought this land and were deciding to plant a vineyard, I was so inspired by these 20 acres of land that had not been planted in vines yet. And the moment the first vine went into the ground, I was so inspired and this huge creative rush has just stayed with me ever since.”

“Quite frankly,” she added, “my art is now off the wall…it’s in the vineyard and it’s in every bottle of wine that we produce. It’s just incredibly inspiring to me.”

Hosted by the Parrish Business Circle and co-presented with Edible East End and Long Island Wine Council, “How Do You Bottle Creativity?” is Friday, March 21 at 6 p.m. at the Parrish Art Museum, 279 Montauk Highway in Water Mill. $20 for members and $25 for non-members, tickets include a one-year subscription to the Edible title of your choice. Space is limited. To make reservations, call 283-2118 or visit parrishart.org.

How Do You Bottle Creativity? Local Winemakers at the Parrish Art Museum

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By Tessa Raebeck

Three of the East End’s premiere winemakers will be at the Parrish Art Museum Friday, March 21 at “How Do You Bottle Creativity?” an interactive talk and tasting presented with Edible East End and the Long Island Wine Council and hosted by the Parrish Business Circle.

Long Island is one of the world’s most up-and-coming wine regions. Guest speakers Kareem Massoud of Paumanok Vineyards, Barbara Shinn of Shinn Estate Vineyards and Christopher Tracy of Channing Daughters will explain what inspires their art – and then let the audience taste that inspiration.

“How Do You Bottle Creativity?” is Friday, March 21 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 for non-members, $20 for members and include museum admission. Reservations are recommended and can be made here. For more information, call 283-2118.

Winterfest: Live on the Vine Brings Six Weekends of Wine and Music to the North Fork

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Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks Perform at the Live on the Vine Kick-off Event January 17 at the Suffolk Theater. Photo by Lenny Stucker.

Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks Perform at the Live on the Vine Kick-off Event January 17 at the Suffolk Theater. Photo by Lenny Stucker.

By Tessa Raebeck

Blues, soul, rock, jazz and country music are awakening the vineyards of the North Fork this winter as Winterfest: Live on the Vine combines over 100 musical performances with the natural beauty and exceptional wines of the East End.

Started as Jazz on the Vine in 2006, the annual six-week music festival returns this year as Live on the Vine, with a wider range of musicians, including many Grammy recipients and Grammy-nominated artists, performing at local hotels, restaurants, vineyard tasting rooms and other venues. Designed to stimulate local businesses – and entertain local residents – during the off-season, the festival offers countless specials on accommodations, restaurants and transportation for ticket holders, including ‘Winterfest Getaway’ package deals. Hopper Passes, new this year, allow festivalgoers to see multiple performances in a single day, weekend or throughout the entire festival, without paying separate entrance fees at each show.

Winterfest: Live on the Vine kicked off January 17 at the Suffolk Theater with a sold-out performance by blues-rock icon Johnny Winter. The music continues with multiple performances each day over six weekends, ending Saturday, March 22.

This Friday on Valentine’s Day, the Alexander Clough Trio, a jazz ensemble from Brooklyn, will play a free show at Bistro 72, a restaurant and lounge at Hotel Indigo in Riverhead from 7 to 10 p.m. Also in Riverhead at the Suffolk Theater, Myq Kaplan of Comedy Central’s show “Last Comic Standing” will present a stand-up routine, “Valentine’s Candlelight Comedy,” with dancing to follow.

Throughout the day on Saturday, February 15, 10 North Fork vineyards are hosting shows, with a performance by Gene Casey & The Lone Sharks at the Hotel Indigo Ballroom in Riverhead closing out the day. Another 10 concerts are scheduled for Sunday.

General Admission tickets for Winterfest: Live on the Vine cost $20 and include a glass of wine. Hopper passes do not include wine and are $30 for the day, $50 for the weekend or $200 for the entire six-week festival. For more information, visit liwinterfest.com.

Vineyard Pioneer Christian Wölffer Killed in Boating Accident

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Christian Wölffer, one of the pioneers of viticulture on the South Fork, and proprietor of the vineyard and horse farm that bears his name, died in a boating accident on New Years Eve while swimming in Brazil. Wölffer, who was vacationing when he was struck by a boat, was 70. According to the Associated Press, Mr. Wölffer was struck by the propeller of the boat, opening a deep cut. He was off the beach at Paraty, a colonial town about 100 miles west of Rio de Janeiro. According to reports, he had been visiting a friend’s home and had decided to go for a swim in an area where boats are restricted within 650-feet of shore. After being struck, reports indicate Mr. Wölffer waved for help and was pulled from the water by, among others, Brazilian soap opera star Rodrigo Hilbert. The Associated Press reports police have interviewed the driver of the boat, and are considering charges.

Mr. Wölffer’s rambling 170 acres along Montauk Highway in Sagaponack is a popular landmark, with rolling fields of wine grapes. He first purchased the property in 1978 as a 14-acre parcel with a farmhouse surrounded by potato fields. By 1997, he had amassed the rest of the acreage and built a state-of-the-art winery at a cost of more than $15 million. On the property are 55 acres of vineyard and the 100-acre Wölffer Estate Stables, including an 80-stall facility with the largest indoor riding field on the East Coast.

“He was one of the few guys who came and took a big financial risk with building a winery here,” said Ted Conklin, proprietor of the American Hotel. “He hired wisely 20 years ago and continued to stand by the business model, continually investing in the winery and staff.

“Had other operators been so dedicated to their business model, the future of the wine industry on Long Island would be more highly elevated. The problem is, there are very few Christian Wölffers,” said Conklin.

Mr. Wölffer, whose careers have included investment banking, venture capital, real estate, agriculture and entertainment parks, was born in Hamburg, Germany, where, as a teenager, he began as a trainee in a bank. He later worked for an import/export company, and later with the German chemical company BASF, as a manager of their sales force in Mexico. He spent more time in Mexico, Central and South America with a firm that sold printing and packaging equipment to commercial printers and publishers worldwide.

His interest in South America apparently continued to the time of his death.

According to a blog from the Wine Spectator, Mr. Wölffer was investing in vineyards in Argentina. In an interview with the Wine Spectator’s James Molesworthy, Mr. Wölffer noted, “‘You can’t make money here doing quality,’ he said bluntly. ‘You can only make money here if you do volumes.’”

Among his investments in that country are a minor share in a winery known for sparkling wines targeted at Argentina’s domestic market and 2000 acres he was developing in Mendoza, with 740 acres already planted, and plans for a hotel.

Molesworthy’s blog also says Mr. Wölffer was planning on purchasing another Argentinian winery, and a property outside Buenos Aires for a residential, spa, golf and equestrian complex.

“Christian’s vision for what Long Island winemaking could accomplish and his passion for horses that led to the building of an elite equestrian center represents an enduring legacy which the Wölffer family is committed to uphold,” the family said in a statement released Monday.  ”We have all been blessed by Christian’s strength, his charisma, his charm, and his untiring passion to live each day to the fullest.”

The family is also committed to carrying on the operations at the estate in Sagaponack.

“The vineyard and stables are fully operational and thriving businesses,” said John Nida, general manager for the estate. “The family is fully committed to upholding Christian’s legacy and continuing the operation of the vineyard and stables. We are left with the tools to move the businesses forward.”

Mr. Wölffer is survived by his son, Marc of Palma de Mallorca, Spain; his daughter, Andrea; his daughter Joanna of New York; his daughter Georgina of New York; and seven grandchildren. Two marriages ended in divorce.
 
Contrary to earlier reports, Mr. Wölffer’s remains were not to be sent to Hamburg. A memorial service will be announced at a later date. Visitors to the Wölffer Estate Vineyard are invited to share their condolences in a remembrance book in the tasting room.