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…)

12/22/13 8:00am
Photo by Katharine Schroeder

Photo by Katharine Schroeder

When my daughter was a teenager, she rode horses competitively. Horseback riding is bank-breaking; for her to show at the top level was beyond our means, but for one month we sent her to train at Coker Farm in Bedford, N.Y., a leading junior riding facility. It was a wonderful experience for her to have a taste of excellence. As a parent, I justified the expense by what she gained in poise and independence. (more…)

12/08/13 12:30pm
grape harvest north fork vineyard winery

Photo by Barbaraellen Koch

What’s the white wine that’s most likely to be served over the holidays? Yup, it’s chardonnay. Now, before you moan and groan about it, take a step back, open your mind and get ready to reconsider America’s most popular white grape variety. There’s a reason chardonnay is so popular — and another reason some people like to say, “I hate it. Give me anything but chardonnay.” (more…)

11/24/13 11:00am
Photo by Katharine Schroeder

Photo by Katharine Schroeder

The pre-holiday season is literally a feeding frenzy for wine journalists and purveyors in New York, who are fêted and sated by the wine vendors of the world and their public relations pot-stirrers. As a member of the Wine Media Guild of New York, I am invited to many such tastings, among them the Grand Crus of St. Emilion, the Grandes Pagos de España, the Grand Crus of Gigondas, the Food Network Magazine Holiday Wine & Spirits Tasting and “affordable” Bordeaux ($10-$55) ($55 is affordable?!). And those are just a fraction of the trade events all over town. (more…)

11/10/13 12:30pm
north fork harvest vineyard

Photo by Barbaraellen Koch

An extraordinarily dry September and October brought the East End’s wine grape harvest to an early close, with all but cabernet sauvignon and a few lagging varieties harvested by mid-October, almost three weeks sooner than usual. There was a flurry of picking (with calls from vineyard to vineyard for extra harvest crew); many a late night was spent monitoring presses that had to run without the usual hiatus between varieties — but no one complains when the fruit is so finely and fully ripe. There’s always dark November to catch up on sleep. Besides, when fruit comes off the vine before the leaves are killed by frost, the plants will accumulate more sugar (nature’s antifreeze) in their hardening canes. (more…)

09/29/13 2:30pm
Photo by Louisa Hargrave

Photo by Louisa Hargrave

Everybody knows that the best wine is made from ripe grapes. Or is it? Different wine styles depend on a range of considerations. Chardonnay used for sparkling wine, for example, should have more acidity and less “fruity” character than chardonnay for a rich, oaky style; the fruit will be picked with different criteria in mind. (more…)