Good news for the Long Island wine industry: Northforker Weekend

A scene from the 2015 Palmer Vineyards Harvest Kickoff party. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder)

Whenever I hear a farm or winery I enjoy is for sale I hold my breathe as questions race through my head.

Will it stay in business? Would someone buy it just to do something else with the land?

That was certainly the case in recent years as Palmer Vineyards lingered on the market. 

Palmer has been my go-to winery for a number of reasons over the years, not the least of which is that I truly enjoy the wine. I’ve also had several friends work there over the years, it’s closer to home than a lot of other wineries for me and I appreciate how much they value the customer experience there. Palmer, from my perspective as an appreciator of wine and wineries but not necessarily an aficionado, is one place that’s properly struck the balance between good wine and fun times. It’s a place you can recommend to just about anyone and they can feel at home there.

So I’ve definitely had a more personal interest in the future of Palmer than I might in another winery, where my curiosity would be fueled more by my responsibility as a reporter covering the industry.

When I recently learned the Massoud family, owners of Paumanok Vineyards, was set to purchase Palmer, I was ecstatic.

Many wineries have changed hands over the years, but to see a family already entrenched in the local industry expand their reach while protecting the legacy of the existing brand is incredibly refreshing. That’s not to say that when some of my other favorite producers changed hands to outside interests things necessarily took a turn for the worst, but there’s comfort in a known entity, one with an impeccable reputation, steering the ship moving forward.

If I were to poll a group of people who enjoy Long Island wine on their favorite producers, I believe the vast majority of those people would have Paumanok at or near the top of their lists. The Massouds, and in particular winemaker Kareem, prodce universally admired wine.

The focus at their tasting room, which I admittedly have not personally spent much time at, is very much on the product. They have a great location and excellent wine and they’ve parlayed that into decades of success.

If you told me you believed Paumanok purchasing Palmer to be a best case scenario for a sale, I wouldn’t view it as an overstatement. That actually sounds just about right.

But it will be an interesting blending of styles, one that I believe can elevate both brands.

This sale, which will be official next week, should also be a great thing for both the Palmer and Massoud families. Best of all, it’s excellent news for the Long Island wine industry and anyone with an active interest in its success.

• Speaking of the local wine industry, researching the Palmer-Paumanok sale really got me thinking about the history of the region and the need for it to be better maintained through some sort of digital project. At least there’s currently an exhibit running at the Southold Historical Society on weekends through Oct. 7 worth checking out.

• Palmer’s current ownership is going out with a bang, hosting 25 wineries in its final weekend with the Summer Rosé & Bubbly Fest. It’s our event pick of the week.  Read more about it in this summer roundup.

• Newsday’s annual list of the 100 best restaurants on Long Island — which is divided by 10 restaurants in 10 different food categories — has been released for 2018. Congratulations to the eight North Fork and Shelter Island restaurants that made the list: 18 Bay, Caci North Fork, Lucharitos, Southold Fish Market, Stirling Sake, Taco Bout It, North Fork Table & Inn and Turkuaz Grill. I really look forward to this list each year and think they do a great job with it. Two restaurants that made the list from outside the North Fork, but are close enough to check out would be Orto in Miller Place and Stone Creek Inn in East Quogue. Biggest local snub, in my opinion, would be American Beech.

• While on the subject of types of food, I really appreciated all the feedback on last week’s column about the types of restaurants you’d like to see on the North Fork. The most common requests: Thai, Vietnamese and Indian (just a no-brainer!). Also several calls for a more upscale sit-down Chinese option. And shoutout to reader Howard Thompson with my favorite take: “Am I the only person who craves boudoin, a filé gumbo, a crawfish boil, some jambalaya or an oyster po’ boy and maybe a beignet or two for dessert?” No sir, you are not! (FYI: The super cool Silly Eats food truck from the aforementioned Stone Creek Inn, which sets up shop on weekends at Silly Lily Fishing Station in East Moriches, has beignets on the menu.)

• On the barbecue front, Riverhead’s Chef Matty Boudreau of Preston House won Dan’s GrillHampton People’s Choice Award last week.

• I’ll be at Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport at 6 p.m. tonight for a screening of The Suffolk Times documentary, “Gone,” about the 1966 disappearance of Cutchogue’s Louise Pietrewicz. As journalists — and not filmmakers — it was a real thrill for my colleagues Steve Wick, Krysten Massa and I, to be included in the library’s summer documentary film festival. We’ll have a special treat for those in attendance tonight as we give them a sneak peek at the fourth and final part of the series, which we haven’t yet released and, in fact, haven’t screened for anyone outside of a few of our co-workers. It covers all of the developments since we released the first three parts last October. We’re calling it a work in progress as we continue our efforts to uncover a few more details that we’d like to include in the finished product, but it will be very close to what we release later this year. The four-part series has a total running time of 1 hour, 8 minutes and I’ll be sticking around for questions and answers afterward.  If you can’t make it tonight, we’ll be screening all four parts again Wednesday, August 15 at 6 p.m. at the Mattituck-Laurel Library and Monday, Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Hampton Library in Bridgehampton. We’re not yet sure if we’ll be able to release it on The Suffolk Times website before those screenings.

• Our August issue just hit newsstands. Be sure to check it out for pieces on North Fork Flower Farm, Wildwood State Park, The North Fork Shack, Wm. J. Mills & Co. and more. We also just launched a new series of fun video interviews.

Grant Parpan is the content director for Times Review Media Group, overseeing a number of things, including content planning for northforker.com and magazine, the posts and videos we create for advertisers, and the company’s digital platforms. Have an idea for a story? Email him at gparpan@timesreview.com.