Lieb Cellars’ Russell Hearn on East End Wine

“This is THE event we all go to,” says Russell Hearn, the winemaker at Lieb Cellars about Dan’s Harvest East End. The food and wine classic returns to McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue on Saturday, August 22. Here, Hearn discusses the local food movement and the future of the East End wine industry.

What are some wine-tasting tips you can offer to people coming to your vineyard, and in general?
All chardonnays are not created equal. The crispness and acidity of a tank fermented chardonnay (vs. barrel) makes the wine refreshing and a better complement to food. Not heavy like Californian chards.

What are you most looking forward to about participating in Harvest East End this year?
Seeing my industry and fellow winemaker friends. This is THE event we all go to.

What is the best pairing of food and East End wine?
Shellfish and, in general seafoods, with all our whites and rosés; and even stronger flavored fish with
our red wines (swordfish, tuna, bluefish, etc)

What drew you to work in the East End Wine industry?
A belief that this area is the highest quality wine region on the East Coast

What was the moment that made you a true wine lover?
I was born into it growing up around wineries in Australia. No moment, it’s just always been a part of my life.

The trio of Dan’s Taste of Summer Events wraps up with Dan’s Harvest East End, the food-and-wine classic, on August 22. Hosted by celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian, the event will showcase more than 40 East End winemakers, the dishes of 30-plus top regional chefs and purveyors. Tickets start at $125 for general admission and $275 for VIP. The event will be held at McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit DansTasteofSummer.com.

What is the best thing you’ve ever heard anyone say about your wines?
They are as good (or better!) as any wine from any other major wine region at a similar price

What is the funniest way you’ve heard somebody describe a wine?
Our general manager sometimes describes styles of wine by likening them to famous songs. Rock n’ roll for our funky tannic Petit Verdot, classical for our delicate bubbles

Where do you see East End wines in five years?
Continuing to break down the perception among mainstream New Yorkers that Long Island wine is bad and expensive. The sommeliers and savvy wine buyers already see the quality and value.

What key factors are helping East End wines increase in quality and reputation outside the region?
The locavore movement is moving people to try and discover locally produced wines.

What are the biggest challenges facing the East End wine industry?
Snobbery versus embracing your local industry, much like what is happening with local produce.

What are a few insider tips for touring East End Wine Country?
Seek out a tasting room off of the main road.

Make a toast to East End Wine:
To good health, good friends, good business and good wine. Cheers!

Lieb Cellars, 13050 Oregon Road, Cutchogue; 35 Cox Neck Road, Mattituck; 631-734-1100, liebcellars.com

The trio of Dan’s Taste of Summer Events wraps up with Dan’s Harvest East End, the food-and-wine classic, on August 22. Hosted by celebrity chef Geoffrey Zakarian, the event will showcase more than 40 East End winemakers, the dishes of 30-plus top regional chefs and purveyors. Tickets start at $125 for general admission and $275 for VIP. The event will be held at McCall Vineyard and Ranch in Cutchogue. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit DansTasteofSummer.com.

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