Dan’s Harvest East End Countdown: Roman Roth of Wölffer Estate Vineyard

Roman Roth
Roman Roth, Photo Courtesy Wolffer Estate

Dan’s Harvest East End on August 23 will be a celebration of Long Island wine and local food like no other, with more than 35 wineries and an all-star lineup of top chefs and purveyors serving up the best that the East End has to offer. With hundreds of gastronomes and oenophiles sipping and sampling at McCall Vineyard & Ranch, “we want to put our best foot forward, so we will be pouring some of our finest wines, from Wölffer Estate to the Grapes of Roth,” says Roman Roth, partner and winemaker at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack. “They are all very food friendly and versatile and will greatly enhance the different dishes that will be served by all the chefs.”

What are some wine-tasting tips you can offer to people coming to your vineyard, and in general?
Ask lots of questions and start a good dialogue with your server. If you plan on seriously tasting wine and visiting lots of wineries, you need to spit the wines. Pay attention to the vintage, the year the wine was made—for example, was it a hot year or a cooler year, can you taste the character of the year in the fruit.

What drew you to work in the Long Island Wine industry?
A) I had a wonderful offer from Christian Wölffer to do whatever was needed to make the best wine possible! Carte blanche is a hard offer to refuse.
B) New York City is one of the greatest wine markets in the world.
C) The Hamptons is a pretty good place to live and work!

What are some of your favorite things about Long Island Wine Country?
That we are a small group of winemakers, vineyard managers and owners, with a very hands-on approach. You can taste the individual passion in our wines.

Describe the relationship between LI Wine and the agriculture, aquaculture and overall East End culinary culture.
Wölffer Estate is a special place to grow grapes—being 2.6 miles from the Atlantic, we capture the sea breeze in our wines. The resulting fresh and elegant wines are perfect food companions.

What was the moment that made you a true wine lover?
I was very fortunate to have two parents that made wine, collected wine, celebrated and enjoyed wine. My father was a winemaker and cooper. Very, very early on, I was fascinated by this beverage that has been celebrated and enjoyed throughout history.

What is the best thing you’ve ever heard anyone say about your wines?

What is the funniest way you’ve heard somebody describe a wine?
This wine rocks!

Where do you see Long Island wines in 5 years?
Long Island wines will be five times more famous and sought after. Why? Consistent high quality, wines with character and longevity.

What key factors are helping Long Island wines increase in quality and reputation outside the region?
New York is one of the most famous cities in the world. Millions of people come here to see and experience this trend-setting metropolis. New Yorkers are getting proud of our wines, and the rest will follow.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the Long Island wine industry?

What do those numerical wine ratings mean to you?
They are great when you get them, and we have been very fortunate over the years. But more important are positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

Talk a bit about the relationship among the winemakers here—the camaraderie, the collaboration and the competition aspects.
It is very good. We taste and critique each other’s wines—we are a band of brothers!

What are a few insider tips for touring Long Island Wine Country?
Come off-season—from November to May you will get the red carpet when you visit a winery!

What are some aspects of your wines that would surprise people discovering them for the first time?
Amazing concentration and purity with an elegant mouth-feel.

If you weren’t making wine, you would be… A tea planter/taster, a pastry chef or stained-glass-window artist.

Make a toast to Long Island Wine: If you can make it there, you make it anywhere, it’s up to you, New York, New York!

Wölffer Estate Vineyard is located at 139 Sagg Rd, Sagaponack.

Dan’s Harvest East End is Saturday, August 23, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at McCall Vineyard & Ranch in Cutchogue. To purchase tickets, including Vin-IP entry (starting at 6:30 p.m.), and for more info, please visit HarvestEastEnd.com.

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