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Shinn Estate Vineyards, a Quiet Farmhouse with Lots Inside

Shinn Estate Vineyards, a Quiet Farmhouse with Lots Inside

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Great wine, bucolic setting

Shinn Estate Vineyards is tucked away on Long Island’s North Fork, a peaceful little farmhouse with a lot happening inside its doors. The winery offers tours, both self-guided and guided, several events like barrel-tasting dinners or seasonal feasts that serve fresh vegetables grown on-site. Friday nights are for Palm and Tarot card readers in the tasting room, but if you want to know what is in your future, sign up early as this books quickly.

Shinn has guest rooms in its 1880s farmhouse, perfect for a long summer or autumn weekend. One more cool thing: Shinn is also a distillery, producing micro-batches of grape and fruit-based spirits.

Oh, yeah, they make wine, too! The winery produces about 5,000 cases including sparkling, rosé, whites, reds, and dessert wines. A few standouts:

SHINN ESTATE VINEYARDS "First Fruit" Sauvignon Blanc 2011(North Fork, Long Island) $22
This wine is great with fish crudo or tartare or a melon appetizer to draw out the wine’s fruity flavor and floral aromas. Find it here.

SHINN ESTATE VINEYARDS Chardonnay 2011 (North Fork, Long Island) $19
This non-oaky chardonnay is the perfect pairing for white fish. It’s ever so slightly spicy with mineral characteristics. Find it here.

SHINN ESTATE VINEYARDS "Wild Boar Doe" 2009 (Long Island, New York) $31
Say the name out loud and you’ll have a chuckle before you enjoy this merlot, petit verdot, malbec, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon blend. Its peppery flavors make it a wonderful match for Long Island duck. Find it here.

Click here for more from The Daily Sip.

The Producer Guide New York City

The Producer Guide is here to help you find new products to include in your next restaurant menu and bring local producers and food communities together. Below is our complete list of highlighted producers in New York City exclusively for chefs.

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Fresh produce

Through our selection of local farmers in New York spotted by our food-scouters at Choco, you will find all kinds of produce including fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, baby greens, microgreens, and sprouts that are available for your restaurant. Whereas their work focuses on cultivating sustainability, innovation, or quality, here is NY freshest harvest from local farmers.

Finest Foods NY

This urban farm is located in Huntington (Rexers Crossroads Farm) and focuses on the health benefits and delicious flavor of organic microgreens, sprouts, and grasses (wheatgrass and barleygrass). All Finest Foods NY's products are grown fresh every week and harvested within one day of sale.

Tongore Brook Farm

Tongore Brook Farm is a small, family-owned and operated enterprise located in scenic StoneRidge, New York, situated where the Catskills Mountains meet the Hudson Valley. Tongore Brook Farm "Big Flavor Grown Superfood" microgreens are 4 to 40 times richer in nutrients than their full-grown vegetable varieties. USDA Certified Organic and available year-round, they are sun-grown in bespoke soils, and irrigated in purified rainwater, and hand-harvested at peak flavor. All of Tongore Brook Farm products are robust, vibrant in color, and intensely flavorful, typically lasting up to two weeks in storage.

Fable Farm to Table

Located in the beautiful and historic Hudson Valley, Fable From Farm To Table is a farm dedicated to sustainable agriculture. Fable's farmers believe that through dedication, hard work, and modern technological advancements in agriculture, they can provide the freshest fruits and vegetables all year round without the use of harmful pesticides.


Environmental champion and certified B Corporation, AeroFarms is leading the way to address our global food crisis by building, owning, and operating indoor vertical farms that grow safe, healthy, and flavorful microgreens and baby greens in a sustainable and socially responsible way, setting a new standard for totally protected agriculture from seed to package.

Perfect Foods

Perfect Foods grows and distributes organic microgreens & wheatgrass to the NY region from their Hudson Valley farm in Goshen. Their greens are soil-grown indoors year-round, are harvested fresh the day before delivery, and come in several colorful and flavor-packed varieties. In 1982, Perfect Foods became one of the first urban agriculture companies in NYC.

Bristol Mushrooms

Producers of specialty mushrooms in the rolling hills of Finger Lakes, Bristol Mushrooms grow their gourmet products indoors throughout the year for both local markets and for shipping in restaurants when in stock. Their offering can change weekly.

Rock Steady Farm & Flowers

Rock Steady Farm & Flowers is a women-and-queer-owned cooperative farm, rooted in social justice, growing sustainable vegetables, flowers and herbs in Millerton, NY. They practice holistic and regenerative agriculture, which takes care of the land and yields the fresh, delicious produce they're known for. In addition, Rock Steady's food access initiative provides produce to low-income community members, including seniors, families with young children, and people living with serious health concerns.

Gopal Farm

Gopal Farm heirloom Indian specialty vegetables, spices, and Ayurvedic herbs are grown from seeds harvested from different regions of India, including the foothills of the Himalayas. This produce thus retains the distinctive aromas, flavors, and health attributes for which Indian herbs, vegetables, and spices are renowned worldwide, preserving at the same time the tradition of those ancient varieties that are becoming obsolete even in India. In Sanskrit (go = cows, pal = friend) "Gopal Farm" means "Friendly Cow Farm". This 90-acre farm in New Paltz, NY in the Hudson Valley focuses on growing heirloom Indian vegetables and Ayurvedic herbs, amongst other products. Their holistic Complete (Isha-vasya) farming method encompasses most non-conventional and emerging systems of agriculture including regenerative, organic, permaculture, and biodynamic, drawing inspiration from the ancient holistic wisdom of Indian Vedic Sanskrit texts, dating back to the second millennia BC.

Spice of Life Farm

Spice of Life Farm is a family-run herb and vegetable farm located in the abundant Finger Lakes region of New York, 15 minutes from the shores of beautiful Seneca Lake and 30 minutes from downtown Ithaca. Growing since 2005, the farm is now in its 14th season with 3 acres in cultivation. Spice of Life farmers take great pride in growing the highest quality and organic vegetables, fruit, and herbs, both wild and cultivated. Amongst their great variety of fresh produce, Spice of Life Farm offers blue Hopi dry corn, a traditional variety of this crop adapting perfectly to drought soils and that is versatile for many different preparations. Similar to yellow corn for the starch content, this crop contains anthocyanin, a water-soluble pigment that is responsible for the blue color.

Phresh out the Farm

What is Eating Design?

Menu Ideas and How to Make them Work


Here's something we know for sure at Choco: New York food lovers and chefs have a thing for oysters and seafood. Below are the highlighted producers to bring some extra flavor to your seafood dishes (or even morning smoothies).

Great Gun Shellfish

Great Gun Shellfish LLC is a Long Island aquaculture company in East Moriches, NY. Paul McCormick owns and operates the Great Gun Shellfish Farm in Moriches Bay, where oysters are grown in a natural and sustainable way. These unique-surface-grown, wave-crafted premium oysters are selected and harvested by hand. After their reintroduction in their original environment, indigenous Virginia oyster species have adapted to the new ecological conditions— and, just like in wine, their sensorial properties encase the farm environment. Great Gun Farm's restorative practices have made it possible to develop their oysters' singular up-front burst of brine with a sweet, buttery finish, as well as hints of sugar kelp, which is also grown on-site.

Fishers Island Oysters

Fishers Island Oysters is a family-run aquaculture farm dedicated to selecting and cultivating Atlantic oysters from their hatchery to their nursery, to then grow and hand-pick them on West Harbor's waters. "Oysters cultivation is the most sustainable form of protein production on earth"- confirms Molly Malinowski from Fishers Island Oysters: the company's main mission is protecting and restoring the marine environment while ensuring the finest quality for their products. Thanks to the active water-flow of West Harbor and the unique suspension culture method, Fishers Island Oysters possess a crisp, even sparkling taste and clean finish. Fisher Island Oysters' size is 3-3.5 inches long, while Petites', with more limited availability, is between 2.5-3 inches. These easy-to-shuck products are grown in an area where the water salinity is about 30-32 ppt: this vibrant seawater locks Fishers Island Oysters' zesty savoriness within its smooth, delicate meat, silky mouthfeel, earthiness, and minerality, together with mossy and berry notes.

We Are The New Farmers

Spirulina is a micro-algae that is an excellent source of a variety of nutrients and vitamins as well as plant-based protein, it is commonly available as a dehydrated powder. We Are The New Farmers, however, is growing spirulina locally and can offer it fresh, which means it comes as a paste and not as powder. Fresh spirulina tastes very different than dried Spirulina (it has no fishy taste), is incredibly sustainable and it is much more nutritious. Thanks to its unique texture, it can replace dry spirulina powder in many dishes but more interestingly, it can open up opportunities for new recipes such as hot beverages and snacks. We Are The New Farmers' urban farm is located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn and their fresh spirulina is completely unprocessed, grown in closed tanks, filtered water, and in controlled conditions. It is immediately refrigerated after harvest to ensure the highest quality possible. The final product is a perishable paste with a two-week shelflife.


Where exactly is Long Island? This is a question everyone from out of town asks when they want to visit. (And even some people from in-town too!)

Long Island is an island that is directly southeast of Manhattan. As the name suggests, it is a very long island. It stretches out to the east through the Long Island Sound towards the Atlantic Ocean and runs beneath nearly all of the Connecticut coast.

(There is actually a ferry that travels to and from Long Island and Connecticut, but more on that later.)

The western portion of the island contains Brooklyn and Queens, two fairly well-known parts of New York. These eastern-most parts of LI are actually part of the 5 boroughs of New York City.

The further out you go onto Long Island, you get into Nassau and Suffolk Counties, which are the areas most people recognize as “Long Island.”

After an hour and a half, Long Island splits into two forks at a lovely little town called Riverhead. The South Fork is home to some towns you may have heard of: Montauk and The Hamptons. Known for its luxurious beaches, the South Fork is a major summer vacation destination on the East Coast.

But the North Fork, running just under Connecticut, is home to some of the most elegant and delicious wineries the East Coast has to offer!

Wine Regions of the World

If you’ve had any experience with wine at all, you are probably aware that certain areas of the world are known for their wine production.

    has the Duoro Valley. is home to places like Piedmont and Tuscany. has the largest notoriety and boasts at least 10 separate regions you can visit!

Within the USA most people have heard of the Napa and Sonoma Valleys in California. Perhaps they’ve given a nod to Washington or Oregon or even the Finger Lakes.

But Long Island’s North Fork deserves a place on your world-wine-tour list!

What’s special about North Fork Wineries?

The North Fork is perfectly sandwiched between the Peconic Bay on one side and the Long Island Sound on the other. The cooler, beachy climate is perfect for a number of grape varieties.

Many of the vineyards buy grapes from one another to make up the vines they don’t plant themselves.

This allows a real chance for each winery to make the grapes their own as they use different techniques to make their Pinot Noir different from the one down the street. It’s a delightful opportunity to taste test all sorts of wine-making techniques all on one road!

Long Island’s wines tend to be low to moderate in alcohol, full of intense and powerful aromas and crisply acidic.

The north fork and its scones

Right on the heels of getting caught up from our last weekend away we skipped town again this past weekend, this time in celebration of (I was going to say that I hope you’re sitting down for this, but I suspect it is only us who are bowled over by these numbers) our three-year wedding anniversary and our five-year dating anniversary. Whoa.

I had been angling to go out to the North Fork of Long Island ever since a friend went on and on about what a wonderful place the Table and Inn was. Run by four former restaurant-types, including the fantastic pastry chef, Claudia Fleming, her husband, the everything-else chef, and two former front-of-house managers, the place is cozy and delicious.

In a way, these people are living the dream away from the frenzy of the New York City food scene, they get to cook the food they want and know the people who supply them with it–mostly from the nearby farms and wineries.

We got to live the dream, too, so to speak, spending the first afternoon at a near-deserted public beach. (So different from Brighton, you know, New York City’s take on a public beach, I had to giggle.) Saturday, or the day that storms threatened to ruin our weekend, we used the gray day to visit six (6!) wineries and my, my, do I love New York wines. In fact, I find them to be the polar opposite of the current Napa style, so light and bright and delicious, it took restraint to limit our purchases to thirteen bottles of wine. That night, we had a dinner so good at the restaurant, it defies words, though I suspect they’ll slip through in the coming paragraphs and weeks.

But what I really want to talk about is breakfast. I love a good B&B breakfast, and this one, cooked and served by Ms. Fleming herself, was in itself worth the trip: the New York Times on each table and at the buffet, freshly-squeezed orange juice, delicious coffee, organic cream, local goat milk yogurt (okay, I’ll admit, this wasn’t my bag), freshly picked berries, homemade granola, incredible scrambled eggs on Saturday and a glorious mish-mash frittatas on Sunday and …

… I hesitate to even call these by their name, because if I do, you will summon in your mind all the terrible and disappointing scones you have eaten in your life–and by that, I mean most of them–and not fully come to terms with the amazement that these are. They’re unbelievable. Quite possibly, the most moist scone I have ever eaten and so lightly sweetened, they taste like breakfast, not dessert, as they should. Sure, she’s more famous for coconut tapioca with passionfruit sorbet and caramelized upside-down peach cobblers (oh, and an out-of-print book they cruelly sell only at the Inn, that you will surely see creations from in the coming months), but one bite of these, and you’ll know why she’s Beard Awards material.

And also, welcome in the smitten kitchen any day.

More North Fork: I had more pictures than I could fit in this post! The rest are over here.

Scones, previously: Look, I know what you’re going to say. “What about the dreamy creamy scones?” And here is my response: Please don’t make me choose! I have room in my scone-loving gullet for both recipes, and so should you.

The wineries of the North Fork: This is in no way an exhaustive list, and we are in no way wine connoisseurs. We simply like what we like– as you should too–and these were our favorites from our whirlwind tour. Paumanok (we fell head-over-heels for the Chenin Blanc and the Sauvingnon Blanc), Shinn Estate Vineyards (Coalescence and Estate Merlot), Borghese (the oldest winery on the North Fork, we preferred the reds: Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir), Peconic Bay (this was our hands-down favorite we tried six wines and liked them all, but actually left with the Rose of Merlot, Reisling–not sweet at all!, Chardonnay and Merlot) and Lenz (Merlot and sparkling Cuvee). Guess what everyone’s getting for their birthday this year!

North Fork Table & Inn Scones

The scones are much lighter, softer (and tastier) and significantly less sweet than those that you’d get in your average coffee shop, with a craggy outer shell-like edge that holds them together fantastically.

This recipe is adapted from the North Fork Table & Inn’s website, and oh, how courteous it was to come home, long to get the weekend back, and find that a piece of it was available to go.

However, when I attempted to make these in the yesterday–twice–I defied what I consider the most important rule in the kitchen: Do not cook when you are rushed or distracted. I left a cup of flour out of the first batch, which actually made a wonderful scone-like muffin, should you be inclined to repeat my mess. And while I got all the ingredients right on the second batch, I cut them way too large (8 wedges, what was I thinking?) and baked them right up next to each other (I repeat, what was I thinking?) and ended up with one pan-sized mega-scone. Albeit, a delicious one.

Makes 12 to 16, depending on how you cut them

2 3/4 cup pastry flour (all-purpose is also fine)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder*
1 teaspoon baking soda
6 ounces of butter, in 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup golden raisins plus 1 tablespoon caraway seeds -or- 1 cup fresh fruit of your choice, chopped (I used raspberries)
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk (use the smaller amount if using fresh fruit, the larger if using the raisin-caraway combo)

Turbinado or sanding sugar for sprinkling (optional, not in the original recipe)

Place cubed butter in freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, measure other ingredients (except buttermilk and fruit) and mix in the bowl of a food processor.

Add butter to processor bowl and mix until the butter and flour mixture are the texture of coarse cornmeal. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer and add buttermilk and fruit, mixing on the lowest speed until the dough just comes together.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently a couple times. Roll dough out to approximately one-inch thickness (I skipped the rolling pin and just patted it out with floured hands) and cut into squares. Cut those squares again on the diagonal, creating triangles. Sprinkle with coarse sugar, if you’re using it.

Bake on an ungreased baking sheet (mine stuck ever-so-slightly, so I might line it with parchment next time, though no biggie if you don’t) for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned.

* If you use fresh fruit in a scone, it’s very important that you use an aluminum-free baking powder, or your scones will turn out as blue as mine did — not a pretty sight! Frankly, aluminum-free baking powder is always best to use, especially if you’ve noticed a tinny taste in your biscuits, muffins scones it is avoidable.

Where to Eat and Drink on the North Fork

Find out where to stay, where to eat and which wineries are tops for tasting in the North Fork of Long Island.

Photo By: Stephen Grande Jr. ©Grande Jr., Inc.

Photo By: Randee Daddona ©Randee Daddona

Welcome to the North Fork

Where to Stay

Where to Eat Dinner

Where to Eat Lunch or Brunch

Snacks and Provisions

Not Wine: Greenport Harbor Brewing Co.

Peconic Location: 42155 Main Road, Peconic, NY 11958 Greenport Location: 234 Carpenter Street, Greenport, NY 11944

If you’ve entered wine overload and grapes just aren’t cutting it, head to Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. Visit the original location in Greenport for a tasting of what’s on draft, or head to their new Peconic outpost for a full tour of the operation. They’re sure to have Harbor Ale, Black Duck Porter and more for sipping. On weekends, the Greenport brewery plays host to a rotating cast of food trucks, and in the evenings it features live music.

Bedell Cellars

36225 Main Road, Cutchogue, NY 11935

One of the flagship vineyards of the North Fork, Bedell has a tasting room that not only is picturesque and inviting, but also features beautiful outdoor space for sipping a tasting or attending one of their many special-event dinners. The tasting-menu options include the estate flight ($15) and the premium flight ($20) and feature everything from sparkling rosé to Malbec and even Viognier. The vineyard itself is certified sustainable and composts grape seeds, skins and vine casings as fertilizer for next year's crops. Past visitors include President Obama and the first lady — in fact, a Bedell wine was featured at the 2013 inaugural dinner.

Lieb Cellars Tasting Room and Bridge Lane

Lieb Cellars Tasting Room: 13050 Oregon Road, Cutchogue, NY 11935 Bridge Lane Tasting Room: 35 Cox Neck Road, Mattituck, NY 11952

Lieb Cellars Tasting Room sits among 84 acres of vines and consists of an indoor rustic-chic tasting bar, a private library room and a furnished front deck where you can taste their elegant red, white and sparkling wines. The cellar offers four different flights, ranging in price from $12 to $20. For a more casual wine tasting environment, Bridge Lane, produced by Lieb Cellars, showcases young, fresh, fruit-forward wines that are meant to be enjoyed right away. In a modern and youthful environment, you can taste eight different wines for $12, along with local food trucks’ provisions. The grapes themselves are grown at one of Lieb's four vineyards, which total 85 acres. If you're feeling a different fruit, Lieb Cellars also produces Rumor Mill Hard Cider, made from locally grown apples.

One Woman Wines

5195 Old North Road, Southold, NY 11971

It doesn’t get more adorable than the tiny tasting room at this vineyard run by Claudia Purita, where much of the vineyard was hand-planted and each vine has been meticulously tended to by Claudia’s exacting touch. Wines to taste include Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Merlot, and the first and only Grüner Veltliner grown and produced on Long Island. Purita was raised on a farm in Calabria, Italy, and has had experience working with wine grapes her entire life — this vineyard is literally her returning "to her roots." During the summer, the vineyard hosts a free weekly Tasting Under the Stars event, where guests can come to the vineyard and enjoy an outdoor film, bonfire and telescope viewings (no outside alcohol permitted).

Sparkling Pointe

39750 County Road 48, Southold, NY 11971

This new tasting room and facility was completed in the summer of 2010 and is dedicated to the exclusive production of méthode champenoise sparkling wines. The wines are sustainably grown on three vineyard sites comprising 40 acres within the North Fork of Long Island American Viticultural Area. You can sit, relax and enjoy table service inside the elegant Tasting House or the VIP Bubble Lounge, or outside on the Terrace and great lawn overlooking exquisite views of the vineyard. A variety of tasting packages are available for groups up to 24, starting at $12 per person for the bottle service package. If you're looking for a more active interaction with the wine, take the Unraveling Méthode Champenoise Experience tour, where you explore the vineyard, Crush Pad, Tank Room and Cellar, and learn about process secrets ($50 per person).

The Old Field

59600 Main Road, Southold, NY 11971

On the east end of Southold village, "The Old Field" was referenced in Southold records as early as 1660. Now the owners of the 100-year-old family farm are proud of their vineyard that’s hand-harvested and pruned to keep the tractor out of the vineyards. They also use organic sprays whenever possible. On the weekends in the summer, you can taste wines by the bay at the end of the property with the winemaker-owner (reservations required). Try the 2012 Blush de Noir, with an adorable puppy label $1 will be donated to Kent Animal Shelter for each bottle sold. The vineyard itself served as the backdrop for the 2010 romantic dramedy The Romantics, starring Katie Holmes and Anna Paquin. Private tastings are $12 per person and include a tasting of four still wines. Opt for a tour (choose from historical or sustainability-focused) at $20 per person, which includes a tasting of five still wines.

Destination: Long Island

Tyler LaCorata, left, and Rich Stabile of Long Island Spirits.

There are two pretty cupolas atop Rich Stabile&rsquos moss-green distillery and tasting room, but they aren&rsquot simply attractive bits of architectural accoutrement. In this 100-plus-year-old former horse barn they served a particular purpose, outside of airing equine aromatics. &ldquoThey were used at night to signal the bootleggers with lanterns coming in off the Long Island Sound,&rdquo says Stabile. The irony that his Long Island Spirits is the first legal distillery on the island is not lost on him&mdashand he&rsquos a long stretch from being the last.

A cross-pollinating synergy on eastern Long Island runs like a summer Ferris wheel, scooping up more and more producers excited to come along for the giddy ride. Distillers reap local rye and finish aging it in barrels from Long Island wineries winemakers morph fermented juice into eau de vie, brandy, gin and vermouth craft brewers use everything from island-sourced hops and grain to local honey, beach plums, oysters and scallops for only-in-Long-Island brews old farms find an entirely new purpose and lease on life. But while it may seem like a brave new brewed world, the heart of it all is rooted in the fertile Long Island soil.

North Fork, West End

For Stabile, it all started with a potato. Or, maybe, everything kind of started with potatoes, which once claimed more than 70,000 acres at their height of production in the 1940s, from western Suffolk all the way down the chain of towns that run up and down the North Fork and the South (aka the Hamptons), carrying names of English settlers and Shinnecock Indians. &ldquoBeing a native Long Islander, I wanted to work with local agricultural products to express the flavors that are native to Long Island,&rdquo says Stabile, who launched Long Island Spirits in 2007 with LiV, his clean, bright potato-based vodka. That same spirit is at the core of his Deepwell gin, as well as a sprightly line of &ldquosorbetto&rdquo liqueurs that employ fruit grown at neighboring farms for their flavors.

Not so long ago, Long Island ingredients rarely made it far past roadside farm stands or the menus at a few local eateries. Distilling&mdashand, to lesser extent, brewing&mdash have created a whole new cottage industry. Twin Stills Moonshine opened its tasting room and distillery in Riverhead this past March, sourcing local honey and fruit to flavor its line of liqueurs, and corn grown nearby for the base spirit that owner Joe Cunha makes in his Portuguese grandfather&rsquos copper alembic still. About a mile down the road, Martha Clara Vineyards is preparing to release a brandy made from their grapes grown in Riverhead. The tasting room at Shinn Estate Vineyards, five miles down the road in Mattituck, features a refined collection of brandies and eau de vie made by co-owner and winemaker David Page, and named for his bootlegging Wisconsin grandpa, Julius Drover. Page uses Shinn&rsquos biodynamic-farmed grapes along with apples and pears from the Wickhams, a family that&rsquos been farming here for 10 generations.

Stabile also sources winter rye (a cover crop for the potatoes), corn, barley and oats for his whiskies from within a stone&rsquos throw of his distillery, where he also began milling on site last year. Soon, he says, there will be a 3,200-square-foot-barn to house up to 2,000 barrels of whiskey: the island&rsquos first rickhouse. Some of those barrels will have once held Long Island Merlot and Chardonnay, used to add a finishing layer of flavor to the Happy Warrior Cask Strength and Rough Rider bourbons.

Tyler LaCorata, Stabile&rsquos distiller, cut his teeth working the stills at Tuthilltown and brewing for Captain Lawrence, both in upstate New York, and that close connection between fermenting and distilling shows up in the single malt Pine Barrens whisky. Here, Tyler swaps an English-style ale for the standard mash, which he brews on site using a yeast strain from Long Ireland Beer Company, a few miles away in the town of Riverhead. In return, the brewers get used barrels from the Rough Rider bourbon to use for aging their whiskey stout.

Long Ireland is working-class Riverhead&rsquos first in a burgeoning crop of breweries that have popped up from the heart of West Main Street to Polish Town. The brew house and tasting room sit in a circa 1938 brick-and-stucco Agway building. &ldquoI&rsquom a rusty nuts-and-bolts kind of guy. I hadn&rsquot even sent an email before 2010,&rdquo says Long Ireland&rsquos Dan Burke, a tall, burly barrel of a man who began home brewing as an outlet from his former day job as an oil-burner technician for Marran Oil in nearby Patchogue his partner in the brewery, Greg Martin, was the service manager at Marran and brewed alongside Burke for fun.

The two friends sketched out a plan, Burke sold his 1970s Chevelle and some Anheuser-Busch stock that he&rsquod bought in his twenties for seed money, and by March 2009, they sold their first keg. Today, Long Ireland has about 12 mostly sessionable beers rotating on tap in their tasting room, with local-nodding names like Polishtown Pilsner and NoFo Farmhouse Ale the beers are sold in both keg and bottle, with a plan to soon move to cans. In August, they hold a fundraiser to help Long Island&rsquos growing hop industry, brewing a special one-o called the Wet Hop Co-op proceeds are donated to the farmers.

Burke and Martin&rsquos success has spurred others in Riverhead. Moustache Brewing, just a few blocks away, started making beer from their two-barrel brew system and serving it in their tiny tasting room in a former HVAC garage two years ago. Husband-and-wife team Lauri and Matthew Spitz have much in common with the wineries, distilleries, and cider makers up and down the forks. &ldquoIt&rsquos a different mentality out here. There is such a strong sense of community and collaboration,&rdquo says Lauri. &ldquoWe&rsquore always looking for different ways to work together, whether it&rsquos collaboration, or using local ingredients, or sending our spent grain to local farms.&rdquo

Twin Fork Beer Co., which has been using the 22-barrel system at Long Ireland since launching at the end of 2014, is slated to open a brewpub this summer. The name is a triple homage: to the island&rsquos eastern geography, to the fact that owners Dan and Peter Chekijian are twin brothers, and, via their tuning fork logo, to their father, a pianist. In the heart of Riverhead, Long Beard Brewing Company&mdashnamed for the ample facial hair of its former boat-mechanic owners, Paul Carlin and Craig Waltz&mdashis preparing to open a brewery and tasting room this summer. And a five-minute amble away is Crooked Ladder, a popular 15-seat brewery that red up its seven-barrel system three years ago on Riverhead&rsquos once- bustling main drag. &ldquoOn Long Island, craft beer is a lot more Main Street than it was even a couple of years ago,&rdquo laughs Steven Czelatka, head brewer for Crooked Ladder. &ldquoIt&rsquos kind of getting to be like Little Milwaukie around here.&rdquo

North Fork, East End

If the fact that you can&rsquot throw a wooden tasting token without hitting a brewery in Riverhead isn&rsquot enough of a tip-off, the acres of hop farms visible on the drive east serve as a stirring reminder. In the last 10 years, a few experimental acres of hops for home brewing have grown to 300 and counting, spread among seven growers. One of the farms is located steps away from what&rsquos possibly the best of the local microbrew success stories. Greenport Harbor Brewing began in 2009 in a 1,200-square-foot former firehouse in the town of Greenport today, the bulk of production is via a 30-barrel system in a car-dealership-turned-brewery on three acres in Peconic. Soon, they&rsquoll add a 72-seat restaurant. &ldquoIt&rsquos a changed marketplace out here as the consumer adjusts to fresh beer,&rdquo says Sean McCain, the brewery&rsquos sales director. &ldquoIf I buy a beer that&rsquos made next door, it tastes better than something shipped from California. Plus, it&rsquos that connection from community.&rdquo

It&rsquos hard to find a bar or restaurant in eastern Long Island that isn&rsquot pouring one of Greenport Harbor&rsquos flagship brews (Black Duck Porter, Otherside IPA, and Greenport Harbor Ale)&mdashand they&rsquore pretty easy to find in nearby New York City, too. At the tasting room, beers like their annual Cuvasion&mdasha Belgian-style ale that uses a different local grape variety in the mix every year&mdashhave been so in-demand that owners Rich Vandenburgh and John Liegey are getting ready to launch &ldquoa fully local beer series,&rdquo says Vandenburgh, which will exclusively employ Long Island&ndashgrown hops and grains.

&ldquoIt is a really cool time now,&rdquo Vandenburgh says. &ldquoAfter living here for more than 25 years, you do see the difference.&rdquo

The brewer notes that a growing interest in local farms and fishing is translating over to support for other small businesses that share similar values. &ldquoIn the end, it continues to elevate the entire region, which is really awesome.&rdquo

Brix & Rye is one of only a few cocktail-focused bars on Long Island.

This local spirit was a big reason that barman Evan Bucholz left his job at Brooklyn&rsquos Fort Defiance to open what may be the North Fork&rsquos first dedicated craft-cocktail bar, Greenport&rsquos subterranean Brix & Rye. But while the drinks are seriously good, the vibe isn&rsquot city-stuffy. Here, locals and tourists and weekenders all engage amiably over cocktails. A Riverhead native, Bucholz sets the welcoming tone, and while the bar&rsquos stock would impress even the most discerning drinker, Bucholz is finding more and more to pour that&rsquos within driving distance of his Main Street watering hole.

There&rsquos Moustache, Crooked Ladder, Greenport Harbor and Long Ireland on tap. He has two vermouths from winemaker Christopher Tracey of Channing Daughters Winery, and carries Wölffer Estate Vineyard&rsquos Verjus, the tart secret weapon in Bucholz&rsquos Sherry Cobbler. He has a couple of Shinn Estate Vineyard&rsquos Julius Drover brandies, a sampling of Macari Vineyards&rsquo play on applejack, &ldquopretty much everything from Long Island Spirits,&rdquo he says&mdashand when Matchbook Distilling soon opens, there&rsquoll be even more. &ldquoYou can be into something because it&rsquos local and from here, but all this stuff holds up anywhere and is good on its own merit. You can be super proud that it&rsquos local and show it off.&rdquo

Island Hopping to the South Fork

Shelter Island&mdashthe 27-square-mile amoebic-looking landmass between the North and South Forks&mdashlived up to its name during Prohibition. Ships full of Champagne, whisky, and rum from Canada and the Caribbean would hover at the legal 12-mile distance from shore. After sunset, rum runners in speedboats brought the liquid contraband to what is now a nature preserve on Shelter Island&rsquos quiet, secluded shores.

It took more than 80 years for the island to get its first brewery, not far from that old drop-off point. Shelter Island Craft Brewery is all about celebrating variety from its 10 16-gallon half-barrel fermenters. Here, owner Jim Hull uses primarily New York&ndash grown ingredients&mdashmany straight from island locals, like Al Kilb&rsquos beach plums for the Beach Plum Ale, Sarah Shepherd&rsquos honey for the Bee&rsquos Knees, and Michael Clark&rsquos hops in any number of brews&mdashto spin out thoroughly unique, frequently rotating beers from his eight taps. &ldquoWe&rsquore a diminutive operation!&rdquo says Hull, a Manhattan jeweler-turned- sherman-turned-brewer. &ldquoI don&rsquot follow styles&mdashI do Shelter Island style. Every single beer I make has something harvested, grown, or picked on the island.&rdquo

Hull&rsquos beers offer thoughtful nuance, like the fragrant saison-style Dune Cottage, brewed with elderflower, wild island rose hips and lemon thyme, with its gorgeous creamy texture and gently bitter bite balanced by a mild maltiness. Another of Hull&rsquos beers, a smooth, English-style ale called 114, uses 55 pounds of grain, &ldquoa ton of hops and a ton of malt,&rdquo but it translates into something oddly smooth simultaneously sweet and bitter, and full of that balance that Hull is good at achieving. Its name nods to the smooth main route that runs from the island&rsquos North Ferry to the South and its quick, gliding passageway to the famed Hamptons, where families like the Fosters of Sagaponack have farmed for five generations.

German-born winemaker Roman Roth distills the Wölffer Estate rosé into gin.

Here, on 23 acres of land, Dean Foster and his distiller cousin-in-law, Matt Beamer&mdasha former brewer for Wasatch Brewpub in Park City, Utah&mdashare launching Sagaponack Farm Distillery, with an on-premise malting house soon to follow. Foster plans to use rye and other grains he grows for whiskey, but the first product, a vodka, makes use of the long-time Foster family bread-and-butter crop: potatoes. Instead of the standard, brown-skinned Long Island spud, though, Foster prefers an Irish round potato with light-colored flesh for its creaminess.

About a mile down the road is Wölffer Estate Vineyard, which earned its local fame via a juicy, gulpable rosé. But that particular wine has become the surprise source of something else that German-born winemaker Roman Roth has been eager to make since he first learned distilling in his home country many years ago: gin. Roth distills it in a tiny, 13-liter German-made Carl still in the winery&rsquos cellar, surrounded by sleeping barrels of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Chardonnay. His only botanical is juniper, which grows right outside the winery&rsquos front door and is directly added during distillation for a pure, aromatic kick. Roth has made brandy, too, with Chardonnay as its base, and the spirit is currently napping in new Hungarian oak barrels.

Even with the four-decade-deep success of the Long Island wine region (a premiere spot in the third largest wine-growing state in the country) nobody, not even Roman Roth, would have predicted the outcropping and overlapping of liquid industry to follow. It seemed as far away as Montauk&mdashthe very tip of the South Fork&mdashon a foggy day. But even there, a brewery&mdashthe first on the South Fork since Southampton Publick House opened 20 years ago&mdashhas appeared, the brainchild of three former lifeguards and east-end natives, Vaughan Cutillo, Eric Moss and Joe Sullivan. From a little red clapboard building that looks more like a schoolhouse than a brewery, Montauk Brewing Company uses a seven- barrel system to produce highly sessionable beers (in cans and Crowlers), like their crisp Offhand IPA and quenching Arrowhead Red Ale, fit for a day at the beach. &ldquoWe make beers we want to drink,&rdquo says Cutillo. &ldquoAnd we want to introduce more people to that craft style.&rdquo

Montauk&rsquos nickname has long been known as The End. But here, a stone&rsquos throw from its eponymous lighthouse that gleams out into the Atlantic signaling the way home, it appears that maybe it&rsquos only the thirsty beginning.

Viniculture in LI, Part III: Martha Clara Vineyard

In 1978 Robert Entenmann—of the Entenmann’s Bakery family—purchased a potato farm in Riverhead and transformed it into a Thoroughbred horse farm, once breeding up to two hundred mares. Apparently he was eager to do something new and different after a time, so he converted the farm into what is now Martha Clara Vineyards—named after his mother—in 1995. The vineyard, comprising 113 contiguous acres out of a total of 205 that compose the Big E farm, is now planted with fourteen varieties of grapes, including Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Semillon, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, and Malbec. Because so much was invested in creating a first-class vineyard with its equipment and facilities, a planned winery was never built. Meanwhile, Clydesdale draft horses for the weekend carriage rides available to visitors still graze in a paddock, and there is a small zoo with Baby-Doll sheep, Scottish Highland cattle, goats, a donkey, a llama, and other farm animals for the entertainment of children. Martha Clara has a family-oriented visitor’s center, and there is a very spacious tasting room where there are twenty-five wines to choose from, including several quaffable versions, some of them rather sweet.

However, in April 2018 the property was sold by the Entenmann family for $15 million to the Rivero-González family. This would appear to be a major step in the family’s ambition for international recognition. The property had been on the market since 2014.

The Rivero-González family said in a release that it owns an eponymous winery and vineyard in Parras, Coahuila, Mexico. It has “15 years [of] experience in the Mexican wine industry and is excited about this acquisition, which will help the members of this family expand their interests beyond Mexico.” María Rivero will run the family’s wine operations at Martha Clara. The Vineyard Website says that “the Riveros are willing to work with the local community in order to encourage and enhance the legacy of the former owners of Martha Clara Winery in a successful way.” Further plans have not been announced as yet.

This makes it the second wine-producer on the East End to be owned by Latin-Americans the other is Laurel Lake, which is in Chilean hands.

At present all the wines are made at Premium Wine Group under the watchful direction of the new winemaker, María Rivero. The word is that a winery will eventually be built on the Martha Clara property.

Jim Thompson came to Martha Clara from Michigan as Vineyard Manager in 2009. Steve Mudd told Jim, at the time of his first interview with Martha Clara, that in the North Fork the vineyard will be soaked with moisture every morning, but of course the grapes and vines need to be dry in order to develop healthily. This is because Long Island vineyards are on very flat land, so that there is no natural circulation of air unless a breeze comes up.

Originally, the vines were planted in rows that were treated with herbicides to such an extent that they were as smooth and clean as a billiard ball, but, since coming on board, Jim prevailed on Mr. Entenmann to reduce the use of herbicides and pesticides (he liked a trim, clean look in his fields) and allow cover crops to grow, such that now even toads have returned to the vineyard—a particularly good sign, given that toads are especially vulnerable to toxins, which they can absorb through the skin. The cover crops are white clover and low mow grass which is a combination of shorter growing fescues and a combination of the two.

Given the very flat, horizontal terrain of the property, Jim said that 7-foot spacing between rows is too narrow for tall vines that may reach 7 feet in height or more, because it means that when the sun is at its zenith of about 45° in the summertime, a shadow is still cast across the edge of a row immediately adjacent of another row, thus reducing solar exposure under the vines themselves, making it difficult to dry the soil adequately. It means that there is good sun from, say, 10:00am to 2:00pm, whereas a spacing of 8 feet could mean that the soil could enjoy the effects of the sun from 9:00am to 4:00pm. Presently, the spacing is 5′ x 7′ except for twenty acres that are 4′ x 7.’

He also remarked that, “It is a very different thing to sustain 15 acres versus 100. It is one thing to scout 15 acres and another to do so with 14 varieties on 100 acres. At Martha Clara, each variety is planted in at least two separate, non-contiguous blocks, so with 14 varieties we would have at least 24 blocks to scout, but it is more likely as many as 40. Clearly, with this many varieties in that many blocks it is difficult to manage. Scouting is time-consuming and needs to be done on a pretty regular basis to catch infestations before they can spread and do serious damage.”

“Fortunately, he went on, “Martha Clara is well laid-out for a right-brain mentality, with very straight rows which are perfect for mechanical harvesting, which is essential for a vineyard of this size. After all, it would take 20 to 30 people in the vineyard to pick enough grapes to fill one stainless-steel fermentation tank, whereas the harvester can do so in a matter of an hour or so.”

Martha Clara is “a vineyard in a box” according to Jim, for its 101 acres of planted vines are hemmed in on all sides by neighboring structures. It is also one of the four properties that forms the core group of the Long Island Sustainable Winegrowers certification program. In preparation for that, Jim says that , “I have narrowed my herbicide strip to 1/3 the total row width or less, I am doing some bud thinning which I anticipate/expect will reduce pesticide requirements. We have hired an intern whom I expect to be scouting for diseases and insects on a regular basis. I am reading related materials and articles.”

It is often difficult to find good vineyard workers to hire, according to Jim. Not long ago he had an applicant come to him who stood at the door to his office, leaning his right side against the door frame. Jim asked the man about his qualifications and then inquired about his work experience with the hoe. “It is not a problem,” averred the applicant. A day later, when Jim went to see the new crew at work, he found that the new “hoe worker” had no right arm. It was not a problem because he had gotten others to do the work.

Given all that, there are varieties that are easier to grow and maintain than others. Some vinifera varieties are especially difficult to deal with in the LI area, including Pinot Noir, Semillon, Syrah, and Viognier. For Martha Clara, the Pinot Noir is problematic because it can begin well and seem promising, but in the end produces unexciting wine. Semillon, Syrah, and Viognier have promise, but Juan pointed out that “Syrah may come up short on sugar, but flavors are beautiful in our Syrah in warmer years in cooler years they tend to show more intense notes of black pepper. As for Viognier, it makes beautiful, well-rounded wines, but Jim [did comment on the] difficulty in handling it in the vineyard.”

The vinifera varieties that do best in this climate are Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, and Riesling. In fact, Jim would like to expand the Riesling planting, but first would need to research the available clones for their appropriateness in the North Fork soil. (Clone selection, as a matter of fact, is as vital to the success of a varietal as the choice of terroir for the vineyard, or, to put in another way, it’s vital to select a clone that will thrive in a given terroir.) He has also added two acres of Malbec (a French variety that often associated with Argentina), using three different clones, and will see how those do here. The one vinifera variety that Jim would also like to plant, once he knows more about it, is Torrontés (the aromatic grape from Argentina). Were he to do so, it would be the first planting of that variety in the Eastern US.

However, because vinifera vines are so susceptible to fungal disease in the LI climate—given its high humidity and volatility—Jim and Juan have planted three experimental plots of hybrid varieties: Marquette (a U. of Minn. red hybrid with Pinot Noir in its sap along with excellent cold hardiness and good disease resistance), La Crescent (another Minn. hybrid), and NY 95.301.01 (also known as “No-spray 301,” a Cornell hybrid that needs minimal inputs against mildews and fungi) to determine if these could handle the climate and terroir better than some of the vinifera vines. Juan explained that, “this has been done more out of curiosity as we have one row of each vine type. There is not enough for commercial production.” It is enough, however, to explore vines with the very traits that are lacking in virtually all vinifera varieties: resistance to cold and mildew—the bête noir of humid-climate vineyards.

A visit to the tasting room proved especially interesting, not only because of the range of wines offered, but because Martha Clara is promoting the use of kegs for dispensing wine by the glass. To them, kegs offer several advantages: 1. they help preserve wine better than do opened bottles 2. they eliminate bottles altogether, thus reducing the amount of materials and energy required to make bottles 3. they reduce the cost of shipping and storage, which can be expensive in the case of bottles 4. they can be reused for up to fifteen to twenty years. There seems to even be a difference in the character of the wine from the keg compared to that from a bottle. The Pinot Grigio served from a keg had a tad more fruit than that which was poured from a bottle. Consequently, the winery would also like to sell wine in kegs to restaurants and tasting bars.

In tasting six of the wines on offer, it was apparent that the fine wines can be very fine indeed, with a pronounced house style. The Syrah from the 2009 vintage was nearly mature and manifested the typical traits of a Syrah that had been barrel-aged for thirteen months—black fruit and cigar-box notes with an unusually forward expression of cracked peppercorns. It had been fermented with 3% Viognier blended in—as is the case in Côte Rotie. The strong spiciness appears to be the result of a cool vintage, though I suspect terroir and style also played a role here. In fact, the 2009 Viognier varietal (with its characteristic aromatics of spice and ripe white peaches with floral notes also had a strong spiciness on the palate—pronounced lemongrass, or was it white pepper? Both wines had a firm acid backbone to give them structure. I liked them both for their unusual spiciness, which makes them suitable for Indian, Thai, and Mexican cuisine or any well-seasoned food. The 2009 Cabernet Franc, made from hand-picked fruit, unfined and unfiltered, was also very nice, with herbal & chocolate notes on the nose & palate, integrated tannins and firm acidity, now ready to drink but still to benefit from some cellar aging. Terrific for accompanying barbecued steak, for example.

Because Martha Clara had spent so much money on developing its vineyard it was decided not to build a winery, given its enormous cost, and to contract its wine assemblage to Premium Wine Group. A visit to PWG, where Juan now works, allowed an opportunity for some barrel tasting. Several wines were sampled, including the 2011 Viognier—developed on its lees in steel, and the 2010 Syrah—which will be blended with 3% Viognier in the Côte Rotie style—which, tasted from the barrel, showed a more demur peppery flavor given the cooler vintage than that of 2007.

Based on interviews with Jim Thompson & Juan Micieli-Martínez 3 February & 29 March 2012 updated 30 April 2018 as well as online & printed sources

6025 sound avenue
riverhead, ny 11901

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Viniculture in LI, Part III: Shinn Estate

By 2017 Barbara Shinn and her husband, David Page, had worked very hard for twenty years to create a natural ecosystem in their vineyard. In order to achieve this they committed themselves to growing grapes that they hoped would be organically certified by the USDA, as well as being fully certified by Demeter as a Biodynamic vineyard. It didn’t work out, at least not exactly. More about that below.

They did, however, become leaders in the sustainable farming movement in Long Island, so what happened in April 2017 was a complete surprise to the wine community. Interestingly, it was a surprise to Barbara and David as well. They received an unanticipated, solid offer to purchase Shinn Estate, including the winery, vineyard, inn, and windmill, that they could not refuse. The property was sold to Barbara and Randy Frankel , who live in the Hamptons.

When Barbara and David bought their property on the North Fork in 1998, they knew nothing about grape-growing or wine-making. At the time, they already owned a successful restaurant, Home, in New York City, but they were drawn to the North Fork by its excellent produce and seafood, as well as the rural charm and unspoiled villages. Already committed to the idea of using local produce served with local wines, a philosophy that was embedded in the cuisine and wine offerings of their restaurant, the wineries of the area also beckoned, and they finally bought a twenty-two acre plot of what was once a wheat field. They became friends with many vintners, including Joe Macari, Jr., who showed them how to develop a vineyard according to sustainable practices.

At first they only grew grapes for sale to other wineries, but by 2006 had one of their own. In 2007 David and Barbara opened their converted farmhouse into a B&B so that they could continue to pursue their devotion to the locavore movement along with their own wines. They moved from conventional farming to an increasingly organic and then Biodynamic approach slowly and carefully beginning in 2002, then started the transition to organic viticulture in 2005, and to Biodynamic practices by 2008. Unfortunately, they never got there.

The greatest problem facing Shinn Estate—as well as all vineyards in Long Island (and for that matter, all of the East Coast)—is the hot and humid climate, which helps promote all manner of diseases of the vine, including powdery and downy mildew, black rot, and phomopsis viticola, or dead-arm. To control these pests, conventional farmers use a host of industrial pesticides with great success—it is this that has made vinifera grape-growing possible in regions where it would otherwise wither and die. However, there are new weapons for the organic and Biodynamic growers, such as Regalia (according to the manufacturer, “a patented formulation of an extract from the giant knotweed plant (Reynoutria sachalinensis). Its unique mode of action switches on the plant’s natural defense mechanisms to inhibit the development of bacterial spot, bacterial speck, target spot, powdery mildew, [etc].”). Shinn also uses Serenade (which according to its producer, “consistently helps growers win the battle against fungal and bacterial diseases, as it contains a unique, patented strain of Bacillus subtilis . . . to destroy diseases such as Fire Blight, Botrytis, Sour Rot, Rust, Sclerotinia, Powdery Mildew, [etc].”).

Nevertheless, as Barbara Shinn admits, the Achilles Heel for any organic or Biodynamic viticulturalist is downy mildew. By far the most effective control of this blight is copper sulfate, which is an industrial product that is almost unique in being accepted for both USDA Organic as well as Biodynamic farming. While there are usually few limits as to how much copper sulfate can be applied in the course of a growing season, anyone using it is aware that the copper content is inimical to healthy soil. While it may destroy downy mildew, it is also highly toxic to organisms in the soil, and in sufficient quantities it will drive out beneficial ones such as earthworms. Worse, it is a strong irritant to workers and also has long persistence in the soil, to which it bonds strongly, so it accumulates over time. However, Biodynamic farming does allow up to three pounds of copper sulfate per acre to be added in the course of a year. For many farmers, this would not be enough, and double that application would not be unusual, especially in this region. Still, Shinn tried to abide by this strict limit.

Like all Long Island viticulturalists, the Estate uses Vertical Shoot Positioning (VSP) for training their vines. The vines are planted to a 7’×4’ European-type density, which helps to lower yields and leads to more intense wine. Then, shortly after budbreak they select the shoots that each vine will grow to provide canopy, removing the rest. Once the vines bear fruit, they go through each one again, removing about two-thirds of the berries so that the remainder will benefit better from the resultant increased nourishment they receive from the vine. This means that the wines made from this fruit will have more intense flavor and aroma without having to resort to very much intervention in the winery.

One approaches the winery from a narrow country road distinguished only by the sign for the estate and the attractive farmhouse by the entrance. A tall windmill, newly installed to generate electricity for the winery spins its blades in the wind and stands as a testament to Barbara and David’s commitment to self-sufficiency and sustainability. Carefully-tended rows of vines have been planted nearly to the edge of the road. Barbara and David were in the parking area with Anthony Nappa, their winemaker back in 2010, when I arrived. (Anthony is now winemaker at Raphael and Patrick Caserta has taken his place.) Shortly, we went to the warehouse where they age their wines in oak barrels.

Tasting from the barrels is always an interesting challenge, as one is tasting a wine in the process of maturation rather than when it is ready to drink, but quality is evident in each sample of the red wine that we taste . . . much of which is destined for eventual blending. Shinn produces a large variety of wines, red, white, rosé, and even a sparkling wine. Their best wines are made exclusively from estate-grown grapes (the other wines are from grapes bought from local growers). These are the wines that are meant to benefit from the organic and Biodynamic procedures that they follow. We then proceeded to taste their many, distinctive wines in the tasting room. (A full discussion of the wines will come in a separate posting.)

The vineyard tour brought us first to the irrigation system, which is an electrically-controlled mechanism that Shinn uses primarily for its Biodynamic compost tea inoculation, which is administered once a month. The tea is made by taking the Biodynamic preparation that has been aged in cow horns buried in the ground, then mixed with water into a 50-gallon batch that is fed into the twenty-two acre vineyard over a period of an hour. This is but one of several means by which Shinn provides the necessary, natural nutrients to keep the soil healthy. Other organic soil amendments include limestone, potassium, humic acid, kelp, and fish hydrolizate (liquefied fish, which is rich in nitrogen).

Furthermore, the Shinn vineyard uses a full cover crop, which is to say, the crop is not only between the vine rows, but grows right into them. They do not even till the soil. As the Shinn Website explains it:

As a vineyard is a monoculture crop, vegetal diversity is attained by planting various kinds of cover crops between the rows of vines. Thus there are different kinds of grass, clover, and perennials and annuals that grow throughout the vineyard. This cover crop provides habitat for all manner of insect life, enhances the organic mix of the soil, and is a heal thy environment for the microorganisms of the soil.

In addition to its diversity, the cover crop also helps reduce the vigor of the vines by forcing them to compete for water with other vegetation when it’s rainy (a good thing when one is growing wine grapes) and at the same time helps the soil retain moisture better when it’s dry.

Like any vineyard that is farmed according to sustainable practices, Shinn Estate employs Integrated Pest Management to deal with insect pests (which means using natural predators to help control them). They also have sought to encourage insectivore bats to live in special habitats built for them in the vineyard—so far, however, the bat houses have no takers.

They planted different clones of each grape variety, with six selections of Merlot, for example, and three each of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Petit Verdot. There are also two selections of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon that account for the white varieties. Each block of grapes is hand-harvested separately, with the east and west sides of each row of vines being picked separately as well. In addition, they also lease a small, five-acre plot, Schreiber Vineyards, which is planted with 30-year-old vines of Chardonnay and Riesling, which adds more variety to their portfolio of wines. It lies just a mile up Oregon Road and is farmed identically to the Shinn vineyards.

Given all of this care and attention in the vineyard, the fact remains that weather will inevitably have an impact, and in a region like Long Island—unlike California—weather variability is a given. It is, of course, a major reason for vintage differences. Last year, for example, there were very heavy rains that affected some vineyards much more than others. Where some vineyards only a few miles away lost up to 30 or 40% of their fruit, Shinn only lost about 10 to 15%. The reason was their particular mesoclimate—the heavy rains left their crop thoroughly soaked, and the vines looked as though they were on the verge of collapse, but just after the rain was over, a strong, persistent wind came up that dried the vines quickly, so that even the wild yeasts on which they depend in the winery were restored after only a few day. The berries lost all the water they’d absorbed very quickly too, so the damage was minimal. (Of course, the weather of another summer could produce the reverse of this outcome there is never a guarantee.)

By 2012 Shinn Estate was one of the founding Vineyards to join the Long Island Sustainable Winegrowers certification program (for more about it see the post, LISW). That was the easy part, as it were, since they were already following all the practices set forth in the LISW workbook. The hard part, organic certification, still eluded them in 2017 as downy mildew, in this humid climate, still cannot be tamed by strict adherence to organic grower’s guidelines.

And now they have sold Shinn Estate to a New Jersey financier and his wife, Barbara and Randy Frankel : Shinn Estate Announcement of Sale. Newsday wrote that the sale had “not been part of the plan,” but an unexpected offer changed that. “It came as a surprise to us someone would walk through the door and make us an offer,” he said. He declined to discuss terms of the sale or the new owners.

Randy Frankel is a former managing director at Goldman Sachs, whose various business interests include a minority stake in the Tampa Bay Rays baseball franchise and part-ownership of Windham Mountain Ski Resort in Windham, N.Y., according to an online biography. The Frankels wanted to take a new path in business, and as residents of the Hamptons were well familiar with the wineries of the East End of the Island. They hired Robert Rudko as an advisor. Rudko, who has been in the wine trade for many years, helped find the property, which fit their hopes and expectations exactly.

Rudko is now running the property as both CEO and General Manager he is working with the new owners, assessing the vineyard, the winery and tasting room, and the B&B. Already, according to him, an expanded tasting room with a real “Wow” design is in the works. The winery is due for some significant equipment upgrades and the B&B is being refurbished. He said that once all the work is completed, it will leave visitors “slack-jawed” by the transformation.

Patrick Certa, who has worked with the Shinns as winemaker for several years now, will continue in that role. The vineyard and the sustainable practices used to work it shall continue as well. However, the new owners are hoping to acquire new vineyard parcels to add to the current acreage in order to expand production.

Barbara and David were apparently mentally ready for this break, as they already had a commitment to running a hydroponic farm that they own in Maine. Nevertheless, they said they will remain connected to the business as consultants for the “foreseeable future.”

The sale represents the closing of a distinguished and dramatic chapter in the story of the wineries of Long Island and the opening of a new one.

Shinn Estate Vineyards and Farmhouse
2000 Oregon Road
Mattituck, NY 11952

Based on interviews with David Page and Barbara Shinn, 18 June 2010, with additions from their Website, and on 23 May 2014. The interview with Robert Rudko was on 24 April 2017.

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Rosh Hashanah Wines! (Kosher Wine Picks)

Happy Rosh Hashanah! Bring in the Jewish New Year with a few of our favorite Kosher wine picks for this season. Though we’re pretty happy about our year-round Kosher wine selection, we’ve made sure to layer in a few more additions just for the holiday.

Love a nice red? We highly recommend Arza ‘Ariel’ Merlot. Expect flavors of blackberry and raspberry with a soft finish.

Another fantastic wine to look for is ARFI ‘Gabriel’ Cabernet Sauvignon. Simply a phenomenal wine! Black currant, olive, cedar, and black cherry notes are coupled with a delicate structure.

The Adventure Begins

Hi there! First, let me start off by saying thank you for taking the time to check out my blog and what I have to say about all things viticulture and enology. I sincerely do appreciate it! Now let me tell you a little about myself. Aside from being an ardent lover of plants and an aspiring viticulturist, I’m currently a Sophomore at Cornell University, where I’m centering my studies around Plant Sciences and Viticulture & Enology. In addition to my passion for plants and science, I also enjoy reading–novels, historical nonfiction, poetry, essays, etc.–and have a passion for music. I have played trumpet for the last nine years and try to play as much as I can, which has led me to pursue private instruction, as well as play in Cornell’s Wind Symphony. Whenever I’m not reading, it is likely that one will find me whistling, singing, or humming and even while working in the vineyard I usually have a tune playing through my head.

Now back to the topic of plants and wine. This summer I fortunately find myself working amidst the vineyards and fields of Long Island’s North Fork and in particular, I’m a Sustainable Viticulture Intern working with Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cornell University’s Long Island Horticultural Research & Extension Center. To be entirely honest, I’m fairly new to the fields of viticulture & enology, but my purpose for this summer is twofold: to familiarize myself with the many aspects of sustainable wine grape production, and to gain a better understanding of how the wine industry operates on Long Island.

I should count myself lucky to call Long Island my home for these summer months, as not only do I get to work and live amongst its picturesque scenery and friendly citizenry, but I get to do so in the midst of one of the most agriculturally important times of the year. In other words, the North Fork is hustling and bustling, and the local farmers’ markets and stalls are abundant with fresh goods. Additionally, I find myself working alongside a wine industry that is quickly garnering critical acclaim for its quality wines and increasing use of sustainable methods of production. That being said, I greatly look forward to exploring Long Island’s North Fork, as well as the fascinating world of wine and grapes, and I hope that you choose to join me.

Watch the video: This New-Build Feels Like A Modern Farmhouse In The Country


  1. Jamaal

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