Long Island Winemakers Offended by ‘House of Cards’ Slap

Long Island Wine grapes on the vine
Photo, Chris Goldberg

As a couple million people binge-watched the second season of the Netflix series House of Cards over the weekend, they were exposed to a derisive comment about Long Island wines that East End winemakers and our local congressman were not happy to hear.

The show is set on Capitol Hill and depicts the darkest side of politics. The wine comment in the fourth episode of the season arises as the new House of Representatives majority whip is trying to drum up votes from two holdouts, and she feigns an offer to back their pork-barrel projects. Here is the conversation:

Whip: Paul, Remy tells me you need a waste treatment plant.

Paul: We’ve had some trouble getting matching federal funds.

Whip: Ben, you mentioned once a winery museum in your district

Ben: We are making some great wines on Long Island these days.

Whip: I’ve tried some; it tastes like piss compared to what we have in Napa. The kind of piss that belongs in Paul’s waste treatment plant.

That exchange didn’t sit will with Steven Bate, the executive director of the Long Island Wine Council.

“It is very unfortunate that the creator, Beau Willimon—and Kevin Spacey is a lead producer—decided to disparage our region with a gratuitous slap,” Bate says. “My first reaction is that it seems like a good opportunity to bring them out and have a blind tasting.” He envisions having Willimon, Spacey and others involved with the show gather in Manhattan for the tasting.

“Our wines speak for themselves,” Bate says. “We’re getting a lot of recognition nationally for the product.”

Tim Bishop, a Southampton native and the real congressman representing Long Island Wine Country, also asked the makers of House of Cards to try Long Island wine before they criticize it.

“On behalf of East End vintners, growers, their employees and customers, I take exception to anyone criticizing Long Island wines,” Bishop says. “We have exceptional wines produced by skilled, dedicated and hard-working owners and their employees of vineyards on both forks of our East End, which is why wine production is one of the fastest growing industries on Long Island. I invite the individuals involved in the show to visit New York’s First Congressional district to join me at some of our vineyards.”

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