A message from Wine Council president Sal Diliberto

It's the changing of the seasons in Long Island Wine Country. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

It’s the changing of the seasons in Long Island Wine Country. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

“To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” Ecclesiastes 3.

This oft-quoted verse from the Old Testament always seems especially relevant this time of year. In its simplest interpretation, it speaks of the cycle of life that we experience here in the northeast. Each spring, farms and vineyards are “born” and, slowly, in the late fall and early winter, they “die” — only to be “reborn” again the following spring.

This year, the verse has made me think beyond its simplest message and has encouraged me to look not at the annual “rebirth” of our vineyards, but at the birth of our wine industry on the East End of Long Island and ask myself, “What season are we in?”

We all know that Louisa and Alex Hargrave gave birth to the wine industry in 1973, when they planted the first vinifera grapes on the North Fork. That was our birth. But unlike the seasons themselves, or the stages of our lives, the “seasons” of a wine region such as ours can progress very slowly.

Where are we now in the life of the Long Island wine region? I think I have found the answer to that question. Over the past few years, our region has begun to receive accolades from some of the foremost wine publications in the world. Wine Enthusiast magazine named New York State “Wine Region of the Year.” Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, perhaps the most influential and respected wine review publication in the world, recently rated the wines of many of our member wineries at a world-class level.

We are no longer trying to tell the world that we are a serious wine region. The wine world is telling us.

This all reminds me of a young man I saw more than 50 years ago in my high school. He was a freshman and I was a senior. We were both on the track team but I never had the talent to excel — only the desire to be the best I could be.

I, along with everyone else on the team, could tell that this young man had the potential to be great. We were right. He worked hard and followed the advice of his coaches and had a great career.

That is the season we are now in as a wine region. We have great potential and it has become obvious to those around us. Now it is up to us to find a way to develop the gifts we have been given and see our way to the next “season” of our growth. It is an exciting time for all of us in our industry and we look forward to having each of you be with us during all of our “seasons.”

sal diliberto