When the Entenmann brothers sold their bakery in the late 70s, Robert Entenmann bought an old potato farm with the intent of raising thoroughbred race horses. As his farm grew, he began to notice things on the North Fork were beginning
“They saw the viticulture happening around them and decided to get involved in the industry in the early 90s,” said Juan Mecieli-Martinez, Martha Clara Vineyards‘ head winemaker. “That’s when he and his daughter, Jacqueline, started planting vines and subsequently started Martha Clara Vineyards.”
“He named the vineyard after his mother, Martha Clara Entenmann, and his mom’s signature is on all of our labels,” said Gina Messa, wine club manager at Martha Clara.
The vineyard produces a number of delicious wines, but they’ve recently become known for their Riesling. “We won some prestigious awards in 2011,” Mecieli-Martinez said. “We won Best Riesling in New York State, as well as best wine, and we won another competition that was best Riesling and best wine, overall, on the East Coast,” Messa said. “We outsourced some grapes from the Finger Lakes region, along with our estate Riesling grapes here.”
Over the years, Martha Clara Vineyards has blossomed into a large, family-friendly winery and farm that not only produces award-winning wines, but also hosts live music, weddings, wine classes and events throughout the year.
“We do live music every Saturday and Sunday, and that’s free,” Messa said. “In the summer, we have live music outside, so people come and get a glass of wine and relax.” In addition to live music and wine, Martha Clara also has a variety of animals, including pigs and fainting goats, which can be fed, as well as horse-drawn carriage rides. “The horse-drawn carriage tours that we do take you up and around the property and you can see the Entenmanns‘ home,” Messa said.
“One of the key features of Martha Clara is that, not only do we have 100 acres planted to vine, we have about another 80 acres of land, which allows us to do different things, whether it be weddings or large-scale concerts,” Mecieli-Martinez said. This August, Martha Clara will be hosting the first annual All for the East End (AFTEE) charity concert, which is expected to draw more than 5,000 people. “We have the ability to handle the logistics of something that size, and to accommodate that many people,” Mecieli-Martinez said. “Not many people can do that out here, and on top of that, we can serve world-class wines as well.”
Martha Clara also offers an education series for people who are looking to learn more about wine and food pairing. Another program which is gaining popularity is their Vines and Canines Educational Walk. “We’re very pet friendly here,” Mecieli-Martinez said. “I host a vineyard walk called Vines that’s an opportunity for people to come out with their dogs and do a 45-minute guided walk through the vineyard and learn a little bit about what’s happening, in terms of the viticulture here on Long Island.”
Ensuring that viticulture stays healthy is important to Mecieli-Martinez, which is why he and the vineyard introduced their wine on tap three years ago. “You can choose to buy wine from a conventional bottle, or you can have wine on tap,” he said. “You can purchase our wines on tap in decorative one-liter or half-liter bottles.” Selling wine on tap minimizes waste and the production of glass bottles. “It eliminated the need for us to purchase six tons of glass, and we’re just one winery doing that. It’s cost-saving as well, and we do pass that savings on to the consumer,”