During this time last year, Long Island wineries faced the most difficult challenges in the region’s nearly 50-year history as tasting rooms were closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
It was then.
Today, the winery is moving to take advantage of a corps of new customers packed with Long Island wine regions in the months following the blockade, investing in wine, vineyards and tasting rooms for the summer season. .. Twice as last year.
According to winery owners, traffic to the area fluctuates between 750,000 and 1 million visitors annually and is already heading for the larger ones. Relaxation of mask wearing rules may provide larger bumps.
The Long Island winery is ready, with significantly expanded outdoor seating areas and events, and a surge in new wine offerings and drinking, including cans, which will attract new investment.
At Mattitac last week, workers were finishing up the newly renamed Rosehill Vineyards (formerly Singh Estate Vineyards) while General Manager Chelsea Frankel was making bigger plans to expand the family business. When COVID closed the tasting room last year, she revived online sales and the vineyard had double the outdoor seating area to accommodate the flood of visitors.
“2020 was the best year for us in terms of visitors,” said Frankel, director of the regional association Long Island Wine Country. “I felt like it exploded overnight.”
As more and more people came to Long Island this spring, she added: [2020’s volume].. People started out in May. Right now I usually get the numbers in mid-June, but it’s not the season yet. “
She said the company is in the process of buying and planting new vines, adding 80 acres to two additional farm properties it bought in the past few months after it acquired Southold’s Croto Vineyards last year. It was. Next year we plan to plant another 50 acres of vines to keep an eye out for new opportunities.
“There is definitely room for growth between Croto and Rose Hill, so we are planting another 50 acres,” Frankel said. And that’s not all.
“The other properties we see have a lot of charm in them,” she said. “There are a lot of ideas we have in mind. We’re definitely open eyes and looking forward to what else is available, and we’ll see what else people are willing to sell. The closed Cutchogue vineyard and winery Vineyard 48 is one of the company’s tire kicks.
Frankels’ growth plan has recently reopened Cachog’s Peconic Bay Vineyards, with plans to expand its 300-acre vineyard territory with new plantings, while looking at restaurants and hotels. It reflects the plans of other wealthy investors, including the F Group. Mattitac’s vineyards and winery RGNY, owned by the Libero Gonzales family, are also increasing planting, considering wine-themed restaurants, luxury homes, beds and breakfasts on 205 acres of land.
For Kareem Masoud, a Pomanock Vineyards wine maker that has doubled in size after the acquisition of Palmer Vineyards in 2017, growth despite COVID is wine quality and experience. Pomanock is planning a guesthouse on Palmer’s property and recently purchased a property with a house that may also have a guesthouse next to Pomanock’s headquarters.
“The food and wine culture that is developing here is really rich,” said Masoud, president of Long Island Wine Country.
COVID-19 was “a tragedy in many ways”, but “it was also forced to keep people from traveling. Therefore, the people of Long Islander discover that not only us but also wine is here. The country experience in the East End is the same anywhere in the world. You don’t have to fly. “
The quality of Long Island wines has improved significantly over the last two decades and there is much to do in the area, including beaches, parks, restaurants and bays. Heavy traffic on summer weekends makes some areas nearly impossible.
For most wineries, this spring is the time to promote new wine offerings, new outdoor experiences, and new ways to combine local offerings with their wines.
Amanda Rivera, creative director of the winery, said RGNY, a former Martha Clara Vineyard owned by the Libero Gonzalez family, is migrating Riverhead’s tasting room to a more experiential space. .. The plan includes a unique blending session, a winemaker tour, and a “unique experience” at the vineyard, where you can combine wines, light meals and desserts at the tables around the property.
According to Rivera, RGNY plans to launch an amphora wine later this spring, using Geultztrammer grapes, which are mainly hand-harvested and crushed in a manner specifically designed for red wine. Grape is made by placing the skin, seeds and juice together in a cold clay vat for nearly two weeks before fermentation. It gives the wine its orange tint and special taste.
Bungalow with friends
At Mattitac’s McCali Vineyards, family-owned wineries continue to offer guests special vineyard platform tents called Bergen Road Bungalows. Small groups can rent bungalows in the afternoon and order a four-course lunch by chef Lauren Lombardi, said spokesman Katie Lysert.
Marcari also offers a private indoor tasting suite overlooking the vineyards for large parties of up to 15 people, she said.
Pink in spring
Peconic Sparkling Point launches the new NV Cuvée Carnival Rose, a pink sparkling wine with cherry and strawberry notes, and the 2016 Brand de Noir, a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes. In 2017, there will also be a Blanc de Blanc using all Chardonnay grapes.
More food choices
At Suhru Wines in Cutchogue, Marketing and Sales Director Shelby Hearn said he made changes to the outdoor space to enhance the customer experience, including additional outdoor seating. She said she offers a wide range of food products, including meat, cheese, spreads, crackers, bread and sweets. The virtual tasting service, which combines wine with specific foods and ships them to customers, has also been enhanced.
According to Hahn, Suhru is a new wine this year, including the 2020 Pinot Grisio, which won the gold medal at the 2021 New York Wine Classic, and the 2019 Dry Riesling, which won two gold medals at the 2021 International Eastern Wine Competition. Was announced. The company, which offered its first wine in 375ml cans last year, is expanding its offerings in Pinot Grigio and Rose in cans this year. She said the 2019 Shiraz will be available soon.
Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard under new ownership after sale in 2020Tasting house manager Rose Basta said he has set up a space in the winery called the backyard. In the new backyard area, not only wine tasting, but also spirits, Wine-a-Rita frozen drink machines, eight station taps for wine, beer and cider, as well as pizza and other food from gourmet food trucks. Offers. We also offer a variety of yard games and live music. The area can be rented for $ 250 to $ 500 all day and can accommodate 14 to 50 customers.
Grand (re) open
The Peconic Bay Winery, purchased by the Soloviev Group in 2019, will host a grand opening this month after a year of licensing and building upgrades, working with farm stands on the premises to offer food and other items. Will be provided. More grand plans for the next few years may include wine-themed restaurants and hotels.
Book with Rose
According to Masoud, Pomanock is one of the wineries offering canned wine under both Pomanock and Palmer brands.Both will be roses in 2020 250ml cans of wine, and will be out by the summer season, he said.
Both places The tasting room is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be used by carry-on guests if available, but reservations are highly recommended.
Spritzer in a can
According to owner Ailee Shaper, Cellar Door’s Chronicle Wine, which had been suspended from offering direct flight tastings in Peconic’s tasting room, will be available again on June 4. The location is currently open for sale of glass and bottles from Friday to Monday from noon to 5 pm. Chronicle Wines is also adding a new summer season flavor to the canned wine spritzer line: watermelon yuzu and summer roses.
Summer in a bottle
In South Fork, Wolffar Estate Vineyard offers a new taste of the season menu in combination with wine, serving seasonal dishes such as short ribs, gazpacho, lobster rolls and local chocolate, according to Associate Marketing Producer Valerie Fraser. It offers. The tasting is led by an in-house wine expert.
Wolffer has also launched several new products. A new addition to the limited-edition cellar series, including a new half-bottle-sized summer-in-bottle rose, a new summer-in-bottle white from the 2020 vintage launched last week, and a special “unique”-rooted “ Merlot Rose. The winery is also working on replacing old vines with new Trebbiano vines at the Sagaponak vineyard, Fraser said.
For more information on the Long Island wine scene and help finding the right winery for you, visit Newsday’s winery finder, newsday.com/wineryfinder.
Mark Harrington, a Newsday reporter since 1999, covers energy, wineries, Indian issues and fisheries.