Kareem Massoud wasn’t necessarily looking for more responsibility.
Already the winemaker for his family’s longtime winery, Paumanok Vineyards, and also at nearby Palmer, which the Massouds purchased in 2018, he has plenty on his plate. The 47-year-old is also the father of two young children, so life is naturally a bit “crazy and chaotic” at times.
“But this is really important,” Massoud said of working with the Long Island Council, of which he was recently voted president. “I was willing to make the commitment because I think it’s important to the industry and to me on a personal level.”
Massoud, who was appointed interim president last year, a move that became official late last month, is joined on the executive board by representatives of several other area wineries who give the board a fresh new look. Maria Rivero Gonzalez of RGNY will serve as vice president, Shelby Hearn of Suhru Wines is secretary and Jerol Bailey of Lenz Winery rounds out the team as treasurer.
Massoud said that at a recent strategic planning session the Wine Council defined its role as establishing Long Island as a premiere wine region and building a brand that promotes that objective. He sees his role as leading the organization in achieving those goals.
“The whole reason the organization exists is to promote Long Island wine,” Massoud said. “So that remains our goal. But related imperatives and goals are strengthening our ties with the community and amongst ourselves within our industry.”
Massoud believes that uniting the different wineries and vineyards in the area will only serve to help the region become more known and recognizable.
“It’s much more difficult to move forward if you’re not united, and so that’s a big goal, to sort of increase the membership in the organization,” he said. “Once you get out of the local area, if you speak to your average consumer, many of them haven’t even heard of Long Island wine. So, there’s a lot of room for growth and a lot of work there that could be done to increase the awareness of Long Island wine.”
In an effort to do this, the LIWC has some projects in mind, but Massoud declined to mention anything specific until ideas are more firm. He did say he is most excited about the events that bring the region together, like last year’s ceremony that recognized pioneers in the industry.
“It almost felt like a family reunion. Some of us hadn’t seen one another in quite some time, and so there’s a renewed and common desire to to sort of turn the page, and start the next chapter on Long Island wine,” Massoud said. “And it’s a new decade. It’s 2020 and so there’s a lot of optimism about where our industry is headed.”