Long Island winemakers have some interesting stories to tell when it comes to their experiences in the industry. We wanted to find out about their most memorable wine tastings — off Long Island, but still in the U.S.
Did someone say road trip?
My favorite winery experience was Renwood Winery in the Amador Foothills. We entered their expansive and airy tasting room and proceeded to taste through an array of superb zinfandels. I remember the extremely knowledgeable staff that engaged with us and were able to answer all of our questions, some were very technical. As we tasted through some of the wines, they recommended other choices that were perfectly suited to our palates. We were made to feel as if we were the only people in the room that day.
— Susan Hearn, SUHRU Wines
I had an exceptional experience at Rudd Winery on the Silverado Trail. We had the opportunity to experience a private tasting for eight with winemaker Robert Thomas in their caves, which are 40 to 50 feet below ground. The elegance of the facility, the meticulously maintained vineyards and the knowledge of the winemaker — along with the stunning selection of wines we tasted — made it extremely memorable.
— Russell Hearn, Premium Wine Group, SUHRU Wines
My wife and I took a trip to visit a friend, Mark Frislowski, who used to make wines on Long Island. He is now the winemaker at Childress Winery on North Carolina’s wine trail. The vineyard area is just off of the highway, where they have created an all-inclusive destination, equipped with shops and even a hotel. The winery is gorgeous! It has a spectacular setting and atmosphere inside the tasting room, donning Tuscan décor, making it very inviting. It even features a bistro with seating inside and on the pavilion. The Childress wines are unique, unexpected and well made.
— James Waters, Waters Crest Winery
I have been to a few wineries where the atmosphere is just amazing! One that really stands out is Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, Calif. The place makes you feel like you are in a completely different place and time. Another I will always remember happened early in my career. I had the opportunity to do an industry tour with Tex Sawyer at Scharffenberger Cellars in Philo, Calif. (aka Pacific Echo). It blew my mind how pristine the cellar was and all that went into making sparkling wine. Now, years later, when I am making sparkling wines, I still think of that tour.
— Edward Lovaas, Pindar Vineyards, Duck Walk Vineyards
In 2015, I was out in California for the Women of the Vine Symposium when I found VGS Chateau Potelle in Napa Valley. Founded in 1983 by Jean-Noel a French winemaker who wanted to break with French winemaking traditions and found Napa as a new home. Not knowing that most tasting rooms in Napa require an appointment, VGS was one of the few locations that welcomed me without one. The wine flight was paired with food designed by La Torque restaurant specifically for the VGS wine portfolio. I fell in love with the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc paired with cool mint pea soup topped with crème fraiche. Give me a winemaker with chutzpah, knowledgeable staff, a thoughtful wine and food pairing, and you have a fan for life!
— Robin Epperson-McCarthy, Saltbird Cellars, Peconic Cellar Door
A couple of years ago I was invited to an insider’s tour at Kosta Browne in Sebastopol, Calif., a winery devoted exclusively to pinot noir, which was named the number one wine by Wine Spectator in 2011. We did a barrel tasting and the wines were excellent, but the most memorable thing for me was that you could not buy a bottle of the wine at the winery because they were sold out for the year. There was a wait list of at least two years before you could actually get a bottle!
— Adam Suprenant, Coffee Pot Cellars