For several years, it was easy to point to Vineyard 48 in Cutchogue as the bad guy in the local wine industry. They made it easy, with raucous DJ dance parties, reports of drunken behavior both at and near the winery and, of course, the now-infamous buckets filled with sangria. Vineyard 48 was the bogeyman in the region and seen as the worst-case scenario by locals both inside and outside the industry. It earned that reputation — Vineyard 48 was the worst-case scenario for agritainment gone horribly wrong.
Though it may have reached its wretched peak there, let’s not forget that Vineyard 48 didn’t invent the agritainment, wine festival style of winery. It wasn’t alone in nurturing it over the course of many years. Many local winery owners have played a part in creating a culture of tasting rooms-as-bars that cater to busloads of revelers, many of whom are well on their way to intoxication before they set foot on the North Fork.
A bottle of Rockwell Wines 2012 Cabernet Franc. ( Credit: Lenn Thompson)
Local wine lovers know most of the winemakers in the region. They may even know some of the vineyard managers, at least by name. But there are so many other people involved in the making of the wines we love that many people might not know. Andrew Rockwell is one of those people.(more…)
Gibson Campbell, Caleb Barber, Regan Meador and author Lenn Thompson enjoy a pre-Thanksgiving dinner with plenty of wine. (Credit: David Benthal)
Editor’s note: This story was originally published in November 2015
When considering your Thanksgiving wine choices, here’s the only advice you need: Drink good wine.
Don’t complicate it any more than that.
OK. You probably want to know why it’s that simple, and I’m happy to explain it. I’ve written Thanksgiving-related stories for at least a decade, just like every other wine writer — from local guys like me to national columnists in the big, glossy magazines. Some feel compelled to do so, but often we’re told to write these stories because they’re apparently popular, though I don’t actually understand why. None of my friends or family members stress about what wines they’re going to pour with their turkey dinner. You shouldn’t either. (more…)
Thanksgiving is far and away my favorite holiday. Any holiday so centered on food and wine and family and friends is great in my book, but Thanksgiving also represents the beginning of the holiday season (which also includes my kids’ birthdays) and the wrapping up of the harvest season in wine country.
There was a time in this country’s history when hard apple cider was the drink of choice — not wine or beer. That has obviously changed since then, but cider has made a serious comeback in recent years.
A lot of the cider you find on shelves today isn’t very good. It is mass-produced, sweet and unbalanced, and meant more as a beer alternative than anything else. It’s packaged as such, too, available in six packs at just about any store that also sells beer. These ciders aren’t very interesting and you’ll probably never see them mentioned in these pages. (more…)
Bedell Cellars at sunset. (Credit: W Studios New York)
“What are Long Island’s best wineries?”
It’s a question I’ve been asked a lot lately. As much as the Vineyard 48 saga has tainted the image of Long Island wine, both locally and nationally — and I maintain that it did — it has a lot of people talking about Long Island wine. I’m getting a lot of emails and seeing a lot of chatter on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, too. Maybe that’s the silver lining of the whole Vineyard 48 debacle. (more…)