Our Lenn Thompson says that when it comes to making changes to the Long Island wine region, the industry should show, don’t tell. (Credit: Randee Daddona for northforker)
The internet is a place of quick judgments and irrational over-reaction. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that when the Long Island Wine Council, led by executive director Steve Bate and marketing director Ali Tuthill, met with the Southold Town Board to discuss some recommended changes to how local wineries operate, people lost their minds. Lost. Their. Minds.(more…)
A tasting flight. (Credit: Randee Daddona for northforker)
Tastings limited to one-ounce pours and mandatory reservations for groups of six or more could become new standards at wineries across the region.
The Long Island Wine Council presented the suggestions, developed by a committee of 15 member wineries, at the Southold Town Board’s Tuesday work session.
The council, which hired marketing director Ali Tuthill last year, is undertaking a branding initiative to promote the region as a premier wine destination. Primarily, that means a shift from agritainment-centered business models — think large concerts and festivals — to a renewed focus on wine education at its 43 member wineries.
Tuthill and Wine Council executive director Steve Bate appeared before the board to present the recommendations.
“We’re going back to our roots,” Tuthill said. “This is taking a pause and taking a hard look at our industry.”
Enacting uniform policies among its members is one way the council feels it can help elevate the region’s image. It hopes doing so will ultimately lead to bigger profits for wineries.
The council has hired a public relations firm, Hanna Lee Communications, to help spread its message. It has also worked with Hospitality Quotient, a consulting business associated with restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, to develop the new recommendations.
“I think there will be a thread between all of us,” said Juan Micieli-Martinez, winemaker and general manager at Martha Clara Vineyards in Riverhead. “I don’t know if in the past there’s been this thread.”
Micieli-Martinez said Martha Clara has already implemented some of the council committee’s suggestions. Notably, it no longer hosts live music on weekends.
“The focus will be on the great wines we are producing as a region and the great service that will be offered by our fantastic, well-trained tasting room personnel,” Micieli-Martinez said.
As for the council’s proposed reservation policy, Tuthill told the Town Board that an unexpected group of visitors can overwhelm tasting room staff, making the experience less educational for other guests.
“It can really turn a nice day sour,” she said.
Other policies proposed by the council include providing customer service training for tasting room staffers, prohibiting the on-site consumption of food from outside establishments and setting a standard price for wine tastings. They also recommended phasing out the practice of allowing customers to consume bottles of wine on-site.
On Tuesday, some Town Board members expressed support for the recommendations.
“Anything we can do to help, let us know,” Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell told Tuthill.
Councilman Jim Dinizio described the suggestions as an opportunity to return to the North Fork wine industry’s roots, which he described as “wine, cheese, crackers and maybe a guitar player.”
“To me, it’s not a change but a welcome step back,” he said.
Clarification: The proposed changes are recommendations and not binding policies the wineries are forced to adapt. It will be up to the individual businesses to decided which changes to pursue
Long Island Wine Council president Roman Roth. (Credit: Randee Daddona)
Once again, as the sun warms the earth, a new growing season is ahead of us with all its promises and hopes. We start to dream of making great wine, winning awards, having tasting rooms filled with satisfied visitors enjoying our wines and the vista of meticulously cared vines.
The East End of Long Island is one of America’s most wonderful places to be. Beautiful sandy beaches, the ocean, the bay and the Sound, each with its own aquaculture. Precious farmland with its agriculture, acres of lush vineyards with its viticulture, all set among quaint towns and hamlets provide a dream getaway from the stress of work and city life. Our farm stands, restaurants, galleries, antique shops, wineries, museums, B&Bs, hotels and a myriad of others all work together to create this wonderful East End experience.
The Long Island Wine Council is embarking on an exciting year. Our goal is to bring together all those who are deeply involved in our beloved East End, to be the glue that ensures that we all work hand in hand to become a year-round, world-class destination for wine and food lovers.
We’ve taken the first step to clearly distinguish the region as a world-class appellation for wine by launching a new point of view, centered around the region’s character and a commitment to quality. We have a diverse group of talented winemakers who can come together to make this happen, to make wines that are truly reflective of the unique character of our region. Our wines are balanced, sophisticated, delicious, food friendly and long lasting. Wines that you can’t get anywhere else in America! I believe that this will serve as the pulse to draw year-round visitors who will stay at our local inns and hotels, eat and drink at our wonderful restaurants with extensive local choices for both food and wine, visit wineries and walk leisurely through our towns visiting shops and cafés. I envision them going home, having fallen in love with our region, and sharing that affection with friends and family.
Please visit and get a feeling for this experience on our new website, liwines.com.
Here’s to an incredible 2016!
President, Long Island Wine Council
Winemaker and Partner, Wölffer Estate Vineyard
This letter originally appeared in the spring 2016 edition of the Long Island Wine Press
Judy Collins will perform at the Suffolk Theater on St. Patrick’s Day (Credit: Shorefire.com)
After a 50-year career, singer Judy Collins, now 76, isn’t thinking about retirement
In fact, the Grammy-winning folk artist, best known for her recordings of “Both Sides Now” and “Send in the Clowns,” has a new album, “Silver Skies Blue” due out in June with dozens of upcoming tour dates across the U.S. and abroad.
You can catch her locally when she performs at the Suffolk Theater in Riverhead this St. Patrick’s Day as part of Long Island Winterfest.
“For any artist, you don’t stop doing what you do. If you’re a painter, you don’t stop painting,” Collins said in a phone interview last week. “I just happen to do it in public more than most people do.” (more…)