Anthony Nappa releases Long Island’s first certified ‘wine made with organic grapes’

Bordo Antico

Anthony Nappa with a bottle of Anthony Nappa Wines Bordo Antico, the first certified organic wine grown and produced on Long Island. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Editor’s note:  An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the classification of Anthony Nappa Wines Bordo Antico as Long Island’s first certified organic wine. It is certified “wine made with organic grapes,” according to NOFA-NY. The distinction means the wine is made with 100 percent certified organic grapes, however, sulfur dioxide and other additives are allowed under that certification. Sulfur dioxide may not be added to 100 percent certified organic wine, which can carry an organic seal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Organic local food enthusiasts can now incorporate wine into that lifestyle.

Anthony Nappa Wines released Bordo Antico last month, the first certified wine made with organic grapes grown and produced on Long Island. It’s also the first certified organic vitis vinifera — meaning common wine grape variety — bottle grown and produced in all of New York State.

“It’s a pretty cool barrier to break,” said Nappa, who in addition to his own label owns The Winemaker Studio and is winemaker at Raphael Winery, both in Peconic. “For me, if you tell me something is impossible, I’m like ‘Let’s do this.’”

Although this is the region’s first certified bottle made with organic grapes, one farmer, Rex Farr of Calverton, has been harvesting organic grapes since 2011. Mr. Farr has sold his grapes to local wineries, although none have received certification to produce organic wine.

“This is a milestone for Long Island,” said Long Island Wine Council president and Wölffer Estate Vineyard winemaker and partner Roman Roth. “Once the region is established, more and more people will be trying to go further. It shows that Long Island is coming a long way.”

Bordo Antico is made from 100 percent cabernet franc grapes grown at Farr’s 55-acre property, The Farrm, which after planting vines in 2005 became the region’s first and only certified organic vineyard.

There, Farr is growing four acres of cabernet franc, two acres of merlot and three acres of malbec, petit verdot and carménère in addition to his other organic crops.

Growing organic grapes on Long Island is challenging, Farr said, which is evidenced by the fact that he is the only certified local grower. The humidity contributes to weed growth, mildew and attracts certain pests, he said.

“It’s not something you can turn on and off,” he said of organic farming. “Your soil needs time to recuperate.”

Bordo Antico

A bottle of Anthony Nappa Wines Bordo Antico. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Farr attributed his success to trial and error over 30 years of farming organically and biodynamically. Some of his methods include a mechanical cultivator for weed control and using copper sulfate, which is an approved way to combat fungus.

“I definitely appreciate Anthony, who doesn’t combine our grapes with anyone else’s,” Farr said. “That would defeat the purpose of growing organic grapes.”

Nappa doesn’t use additives and the wine is wild yeast fermented in stainless steel.

“This wine has little added to it from start to finish,” he said.

The result is a medium-bodied, balanced wine with a great acidity, said Nappa, adding that it pairs well with Italian food. He recommends serving it slightly chilled.

“It’s a great summer red wine,” he said.

The name Bordo Antico is used to denote that this bottle is different than the Bordo cabernet franc Nappa has released in years past — although it is made in the same style.

In years when organic fruit is not available, Nappa will release the wine under the name Bordo.

Last year Anthony Nappa Wines, which produces at Raphael, became the third New York winery to receive organic certification, according to NOFA-NY. One of the other two wineries is Royal Wine, which released an organic concord grape blend under the Marlboro-based Kedem Winery label. The other is City Winery in Manhattan, which primarily makes imported wines.

Bordo Antico ($22) is available at The Winemaker Studio and at anthonynappawines.com. You can also order it by the glass at Grana in Jamesport, First and South and Brix & Rye, both in Greenport and Hellenic Snack Bar and Restaurant in East Marion.