I have a friend who grew up in Northern California and loves wine, and many years ago when I first discovered the wines of Long Island, I excitedly poured her some, hoping for astonishment and delight. She put the glass to her nose and said, witheringly, “Long Island reds always smell like ketchup to me.” And while I couldn’t disagree (they sorta do, more on this later), I remained a fan. And I decided that she was so California-oriented that she couldn’t understand the beauty of these wines.Too bad for her.
Why are they beautiful? Well the Island has a lot going for it, viticulture-wise. The deep sandy loam of this glacier-carved barrier island drains very quickly, which is great for grapevines. The winter cold and frost are tempered by the warming winds of the Atlantic Ocean and the Peconic Bay, which extends the growing season by weeks. It shares a latitude with Bordeaux in France, also oceanside, inviting a ton of comparisons as well as the Bordelaise grape varieties (merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc). And it has a built-in market right next door in NYC. Right?
Well, wrong. Have you ever rented an apartment above a restaurant that you unconsciously ruled out? Because it’s too close and convenient to be any good? I believe that’s what NYC’s wine community did to the wines of Long Island. For whatever reason, the idea of delicious, quality wines being produced on Long Island seems preposterous to many, and that’s not fair.
I invite you to show up for our neighbors on this indeed long island and taste these three beauties that we love and defend and stake our reputation on.