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Chardonnay grapess
Freshly picked North Fork chardonnay grapes. The author is not a fan of heavily oaked chardonnays and is happy to see local winemakers using less new oak barrels. (Credit: Randee Daddona for northforker) 

A lot of writers — wine writers included — like to make predictions about their area of interest (notice I didn’t say ‘expertise’). I’m no different. Every now and again, I feel like I know just enough about the local wine world to look into the future. I last did it in these very pages last July.

What fewer writers do is follow up on said predictions — checking in from time to time to see just how right (rarely) or wrong (most of the time) we are.

It’s only been a little over a year since I opened my big mouth, but let’s take a look at my proclamations and where they stand today.

Prediction: Wine country will splinter.
This prediction was about the growing crevasse between wineries that are focused on making great wine and the wineries that want to be supper clubs or straight-up bars. There hasn’t been much change here. I still think it will happen, but it’s going to take several years before it’s obvious.

Verdict: to be determined

Prediction: Some large wineries will close.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. And, so far at least, I was wrong. Not much more to say here, though I still think it will happen.

Verdict: wrong (for now)

Prediction: Smaller vineyards/producers could flourish.
I’m far less bullish on this concept today than I was a year ago. Southold Farm + Cellars, one of the wineries that inspired the prediction, is heading to Texas and there haven’t been any new quality-focused labels to join the community in the past 12 months.

Verdict: wrong

Prediction: Less new oak
Finally, one prediction that I got right! In visiting wineries to taste, and tasting in my home, I find there is a marked difference in how much new oak most wines are seeing. The change is most obvious in chardonnay, where vanilla and charcoal flavors are being eschewed in favor of bright fruit and floral character. A welcome change for most of us, I think.

Verdict: right

Prediction: More focus on white wines
I think we’ll need to wait more than a year for this to become obvious, but I do think this is happening in some circles. I’ve even had a couple industry folks say — off the record, of course — that the future of Long Island wine might be white wines. That may sound like sacrilege — and honestly I don’t think white wines will ever be the full focus — but it doesn’t seem so crazy today. Maybe we’re not Bordeaux after all.

Verdict: to be determined

Prediction: Improved regional marketing
This was probably the easiest prediction to make. First, regional marketing has been pretty awful overall for some time. Second, Ali Tuthill, who was then the director of marketing for the Long Island Wine Council, has not only done a great job in that role, but is now the group’s executive director.

The group has been somewhat quiet in recent months, but my writer friends in New York City and beyond have never been more interested in Long Island wine. Hopefully that will translate to more demand for Long Island wine — for the wine, not just for the “experience” of a day on the North Fork.

Verdict: right

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