Mark Tobin is the owner and winemaker of Mattebella Vineyards in Southold. He and his wife, Christine, purchased the vineyard in 2005 and opened the estate-owned winery’s tasting cottage in 2011. Tobin lives in Westhampton Beach but works full-time in Miami, Fla. as an eminent domain attorney.
The tireless Tobin took a few minutes to chat with northforker about making old-world style wine on Long Island, the elegance of Riesling, and what wine drinkers should never apologize for.
Q: How did you get into wine?
A: I started making wine in my garage in the Hamptons with my wife’s Italian family in the late 90s. Then I fell in love with the region. I realized the Long Island region was capable of making stunning old world style wines with restraint as opposed to a number of the other regions in America because of its cool maritime climate. You can evenly ripen and get beautiful elegant wines with restraint.
Q: Where do you find the time to manage a winery and vineyard when you work full time in Miami?
A: My wife is a lot smarter than I am, so she’s able to do a lot so that I don’t have to take time away from my law practice. My responsibilities as a winemaker and other aspects of the vineyard require a lot of me but I do a lot of it on the weekend and when you’re doing something you passionately love, the line between work and pleasure is fuzzy. I don’t count it as work.
Q: What’s your favorite white grape?
A: Riesling. It’s regal and it’s capable of the most stunning, layered complex flavors and it’s truly magnificent. I’m thinking about buying some Finger Lakes fruit this year so I can make some. I want to make a stunning crisp clean Riesling that’s enjoyable.
Q: And your favorite red?
A: It’s between pinot noir and merlot. I also love Nebbiolo, a grape from Northern Italy. Regionally, I like Pinot Noir from Burgundy, France, and Merlot from the right bank of Bordeaux.
Q: What advice can you offer to wine drinkers?
A: The most important thing to know is that you should never apologize for what you don’t know. As long as you’re continuing to focus on what you like. What you like is all you need to know.
To read previous installments of “Meet Your Winemaker” click here.