Take a moment to share in Harry Mazzoni’s vision for the future of the North Fork Wine Trail. It’s called Tuscan Vineyards, and it could one day become Orient’s first winery and the North Fork’s easternmost tasting room.
Tucked away on the back roads of Orient, 500 Soundview Drive is a 23-acre property with all the makings of the next North Fork vineyard. And when Mr. Mazzoni purchased it in March, much of the groundwork was already in place thanks to its former owner, who invested more than $1 million in landscaping. The property contains lush gardens, a man-made pond and, most importantly, 11.5 acres of chardonnay, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes, all of which have been maturing for more than a decade.
“When you see the property, it is all vines and gardens — it looks like Tuscany,” Mr. Mazzoni said. “Every piece of the property is meticulously laid out and a lot of thought went into it.”
A Manhattan businessman, Mr. Mazzoni said farming grapes has been somewhat of a calling. In fact, agriculture has long been a way of life for his family, which owns an olive oil business in Italy.
In the six months since Mr. Mazzoni purchased the Orient property, he said the grapes are showing promise. In fact, Castello Di Borghese Vineyard in Cutchogue has already purchased some to produce wine at their facility, he said.
“So far, the farm is doing very well,” he said. “There are a good variety of grapes.”
For now, Mr. Mazzoni said his focus is on growing and selling the property’s existing grapes and hiring a winemaker to begin experimenting with wine production on the premises. He also wants to subdivide the 23-acre parcel into four residential and two agricultural lots. The Southold Town Planning Board is currently examining his application.
Mr. Mazzoni would also need to submit a separate site plan for the winery to the Planning Board for approval. If all goes as planned, he hopes to share the bounty at Tuscan Vineyard’s public tasting room within the next two years.
And the timing couldn’t be better.
With roughly 1.3 million visitors a year, the Long Island wine industry has grown from one small vineyard to 3,000 acres of vines and more than 50 wine producers in 25 years, according to the Long Island Wine Council.
“I think it is good timing,” the organization’s president, Sal Diliberto, said. “The numbers are really up in terms of the number of people coming out here on weekends. And as the region grows, I hope it encourages more people to come in and purchase land and plant and build wineries. It will help us all.”
“It is an opportunity to bring more people [to the North Fork],” Mr. Diliberto said. “When something new and interesting comes along, people decide to stop out here. [Visitors] will have to pass all the other wineries before they get to Orient. Plus, [Mr. Mazzoni] will pick up business from the ferry and potentially get more people to visit from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.”