Raising a Glass to Long Island Wine Country and Dan’s Harvest East End with Anthony Nappa

Winemaker Anthony Nappa
Winemaker Anthony Nappa Photo Courtesy Anthony Nappa

“Our small farms, fishing, wineries and restaurants together are on the path to creating something unique,” says Winemaker Anthony Nappa, who along with Chef Sarah Evans Nappa established Anthony Nappa Wines in 2007 with 200 cases of Long Island Pinot Noir. “A true localized cuisine that is reflective of this place, a symbiotic relationship supporting the whole environment and agriculture system to the table.”

The bounty of that unique relationship is at the heart of August 23rd’s Dan’s Harvest East End—the annual wine-and-food celebration benefiting the Long Island Farm Bureau Promotion & Education Foundation and Peconic Land Trust—at which Nappa will be joining the creative forces from more than 35 other Long Island wineries, along with top local chefs and purveyors, pouring outstanding wines and serving up tastes of the best that the East End has to offer. As he looks forward to the big night, Nappa shares secrets for visiting Long Island Wine Country (“When visiting wine country to taste, experiment outside of your comfort zone, try new things. One of the best attributes of Long Island Wine Country is our diversity in grapes grown and wine styles.), talks about those numerical wine ratings and tells us what he’d be doing if he weren’t making his award-winning wines.

What will you be pouring at Dan’s Harvest East End?
“Anomaly” White Pinot Noir, “Luminous” Riesling, “Sciardonne” Chardonnay, “dodici” Cabernet-Merlot. We chose these wines because they are some of our most popular and well known wines. We also feel they represent some of the best of what Long Island and New York has to offer—Merlot blends, Finger Lakes Rieslings, Chardonnay and our signature wine, Anomaly.

What drew you to work in the Long Island Wine industry?
I grew up in Massachusetts, and after getting into the wine business I wanted to be on the East Coast. The North Fork has the most unique micro-climate and growing conditions, making it one of the most premier cool-climate places to make wine in the world.

What are some of your favorite things about Long Island Wine Country?
Long Island Wine Country is beautiful—the land, the sea. There are not many wine regions in the world where you can live on the ocean and make wine.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the Long Island wine industry?
The biggest challenges facing the sustainability of our wine region are mostly financial: land prices, cost of living, the cost of doing business in New York—labor, taxes, energy. As well as suburban pressure. Wine on the world market is a commodity, produced in factory farms, controlled by large corporations and imported cheaply from places with low costs. We can’t compete on price, but we can on quality. Moreover, every purchase of local wine keeps jobs in our community, money in our local economy and land in farming and out of development, so drink local wine!

What do those famous numerical wine ratings mean to you?
Anyone who does anything creative and presents it to the public must have a thick skin. We all wear our hearts on our sleeve because what we create is very personal. But the wine world is so vast and complex, professional wine critics can bring some context and clarity out of the noise. A point system to wine is arbitrary and subjective, but it gives direction to some consumers and confirmation to others.

Talk a bit about the relationship among the winemakers here, the camaraderie, the collaboration and the competition.
The winemakers are very close, always going out of their way to help out when you are in a jam, to borrow or repair a piece of equipment, consolidate purchasing or shipping together. There is a lot of camaraderie and sharing of ideas. We do exchanges in each other’s wineries, do dinners together and taste with each other. For collaboration, the Long Island Merlot Alliance (LIMA) conducts tastings with our wines and wines from other regions so we can sit together and discuss our wines openly and critically. Also, LIMA brings in outside vineyard and winery consultants annually to meet with member wineries and share outside opinions about our region and wines.

What are a few insider tips for touring Long Island Wine Country?
1. Have a plan—you can only hit three to five wineries in a day, don’t rush, enjoy yourself.
2. Come during the week or off-season. Serious wine aficionados can get more attention and information
3. Get off the beaten track. Although great wine can be had at the bigger venues, avoid crowds and groups in the smaller tasting rooms where often times it’s the only place those smaller production wines are available
4. Relax!!! Its only wine, and you’re on vacation.

What are some aspects of your wines that would surprise people discovering them for the first time?
Nappa is not Napa!

If you weren’t making wine, you would be… Sailing.

Make a toast to Long Island Wine: To 40 more years!!

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

Anthony Nappa Wines are available for tasting and purchase at their tasting room, The Winemaker Studio, at 2885 Peconic Lane in 
Peconic. Call 
774-641-7488 or visit anthonynappawines.com for more information.

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