07/27/14 9:00am
Chris and Mark Tobin of Mattebella Vineyards commute to the North Fork from Miami Beach. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

Chris and Mark Tobin of Mattebella Vineyards commute to the North Fork from Miami Beach. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

On June 22, I spent a glorious afternoon at Mattebella Vineyards in Southold and, seeing the joy that its owners, Mark and Christine Ferrari Tobin, took in their country estate, I felt — as I had for the many years I spent working outdoors in my own vineyard — exhilaration with the wondrously changing seasons. (more…)

06/29/14 11:00am
Winemaker Studio is just one of the many places Louis Hargrave plans to visit this summer.

Winemaker Studio is just one of the many local places Louis Hargrave plans to visit this summer.

What’s love got to do with it? Everything. If you’ve traveled the world seeking the most beautiful landscapes with the most delicious foods, the most enticing wines and the most stimulating people, as I have, but you live on the East End, as I do, you will have to conclude, finally, that everything you seek is right here. Maybe not the ultimate superlative in every category (especially if you are looking for bananas, mescal and mountain peaks) but a dynamic mix of wine, food and culture are all here, from Orient or Montauk to Riverhead.

So that does it. I love the East End best of all and I’m staying home for the summer.  (more…)

06/01/14 11:00am
Oenologist Ioanna Vamakouri in the Boukari vineyard on Santorini, where vines are trained on the ground in a basket pattern. (Credit: Louisa Hargrave)

Oenologist Ioanna Vamakouri in the Boukari vineyard on Santorini, where vines are trained on the ground in a basket pattern. (Credit: Louisa Hargrave)

In my last column, I wrote about the fragility of agriculture on the East End and the efforts of a group of Long Island vintners to create a certified protocol for sustainable farming.

Admirable as it is, sustainability comes at a cost. Compost is more expensive than conventional fertilizer. Cultivating by hand or by tractor is more expensive than spraying an herbicide like Roundup.

While our vintners wonder if consumers will support sustainable or organic practices, in Greece, where I recently spent a week exploring the roots and realities of Greek wines, winemakers have an even bigger concern. (more…)

05/19/14 4:00pm
Cutchogue farmer Hallock Tuthill binding wheat in a circa-1940 photograph. (Credit: Louisa Hargrave, courtesy)

Cutchogue farmer Hallock Tuthill binding wheat in a circa-1940 photograph. (Credit: Louisa Hargrave, courtesy)

Hanging in my kitchen is a photo taken in 1940 showing my former North Fork neighbor Hallock Tuthill binding wheat on a rig driven by three massive farm horses. I love this image. Here is real horsepower. Can you imagine mowing your lawn with a three-horsepower tractor? Yet these animals got the job done. And the rig must have been a marvel of innovation at the time it was invented, if not in 1940.  (more…)

05/03/14 12:00pm
north fork harvest vineyard

(Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

In my last column, I introduced a few guidelines to help you understand the aromas in wine, based on your initial sniff, after swirling the wine to volatilize it in the glass. I touched on some obvious aspects, including aromas like bell peppers, burnt rubber, butterscotch, vanilla and barbecue. (more…)

04/19/14 2:00pm

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One of the great pleasures I get from wine comes from trying to decode the aromas and flavors in each wine. To me, behind every wine there’s a mystery to be solved. As a former grape grower and winemaker, I have tasted grapes at every stage as they ripen and morph into wine. It’s tremendous fun to psych out a wine; the payoff is that if a wine is unpleasant, at least I can entertain myself by guessing what went wrong … before pouring it down the drain.

With a few organoleptic guidelines, you, too, can begin to play the wine mystery game.  (more…)

04/05/14 12:00pm

rose provence

As the earth turns, seasons change. Despite this year’s illusion of endless winter, my daffodil bulbs are showing their heads almost on schedule.

Along with the joys of spring comes a mighty thirst — for beautiful, crisp, pale-pink rosé wines. At a recent Wines of Provence media luncheon tasting at Lafayette Restaurant in Manhattan, I was reminded of how enticingly quaffable the rosé wines from Provence have become, as they have grown in quality and popularity over the past two decades.  (more…)