By Christopher J. Davies
Editor & Co-Founder
Wine Country International magazine
Long Island Wine Country is now 35 years old, which in winespeak, makes it a teenager in the world of wine. The region will always be considered boutique, because all combined Long Island Vineyards add up to just 3,000 acres of planted grapevines (One acre of land is home to between 900 and 1,300 vines). World-Famous Napa Valley, which produces just 4% of all California wine, has 45,275 acres planted in vineyards!
With that said, Long Island Wine Country has a micro-climate that is almost an exact replica of Bordeaux, one of the most important wine producing regions in the world! Long Island Wine Country (North Fork & Hamptons) is more like Bordeaux than any other place in America. That my wine loving friends is a VERY GOOD thing. If you like traditional Bordeaux varietal's like Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Pinot Blanc...these are the grapes that ripen extremely well in the region.
To make great wine, you need great grapes. Long Island vintners and grape growers have spent millions to figure out how to grow the best grapes. Several vintners have even hired Michelle Rolland, the legendary "Flying Winemaker" from France to help guide them. Joseph Macari, Jr., President & Co-Owner of Macari Vineyards and Winery, has invested lots into organic grape growing techniques. For several years, Macari has retained Alan York, a biodynamic guru, who has worked with Benziger Family Winery and Fetzer in California. Having tasted Macari's wines lately, the results of this investment in the vineyards is noticeable in the glass.
Winemaking is a combination of science, art and good luck. The first two elements set the individual style of the winery. The third "good luck" applies to weather. Weather is the wild card for every vintner. Long Island is especially susceptible to wet weather conditions. Water, believe it or not, does not help the grapes grow better or bigger. They need very little irrigation and thrive on being stressed (having little water).
The 2007 Long Island grape harvest was by most accounts, the best harvest of this decade. Some vintners have reported a double digit increase in grape yields or tons of grapes harvest. The weather conditions last summer were hot and dry with cool nights. In comparison, 2006 was a much rainier, humid season. Many vintners lost a good percentage of their white grapes in 2006.
I am looking forward to tasting the wines from the 2007 vintage to see/taste for myself. The 2007 whites will start to be released this summer. Reds from 2007 will be aged mostly in expensive French Oak barrels for two to three years.
Happy 35th birthday Long Island Wine Country.
I raise my glass to your promising future!