When one of the North Fork’s top winemakers told me that he was about to release the East End’s first organic wines this weekend, I asked him to tell his story in his own words.
Winemaker Anthony Nappa creates wines from East End harvests for his namesake Anthony Nappa Wines and for Raphael, both based in Peconic. Producing local, organic wines is a huge accomplishment in our wet region’s cool climate. Eager oenophiles are lining up for this long-awaited locavore libation.
As Nappa says, “For all of the wines we currently make, as well as all the wines I make for Raphael Vineyards, we don’t use any additives, so moving into organic certification wasn’t difficult for me as it was already the way that I make wine. This could not have been possible without the hard work and perseverance of grower Rex Farr. We are truly grateful of the synergy that exists between us.
“Rex Farr, my grower, has endured many difficulties over the last eight years growing grapes organically and biodynamically, [which was] once thought impossible on the East End. Rex Farr Vineyard is the only Certified Organic Vineyard on Long Island. He grows 7.5 acres of grapes including cab franc, merlot, malbec, petit verdot and carménère, so we have those varietals to work with. Red grapes give me a lot of stylistic possibility. When he was able to bring in a consistent harvest I knew that I wanted to be a part of it, but I told him I would only do it if we went all the way and certified the wines.
“I have always made wine in the most natural way possible and I enjoy making the wines I currently make, but I also enjoy new challenges and the opportunity to do something nobody has done before. It’s part of my lifestyle to try to be a good steward of the land.
“We have two wines in current production: Bordo Antico, a cabernet franc; and La Strega, a malbec. Both are NOFA-NY Certified Organic grapes.
I currently have a Carménère in barrel that is small production and will be only available to our wine club. We hope to always have more wines in the works—it really depends on the vintage.
“Last year we produced the first wine made with NOFA-NY Certified Organic grapes (Bordo Antico) and this year we have made the first USDA Certified Organic Wine made on the East Coast. The difference is that [last year’s] wine was made with organic grapes in a certified winery. Now we’ve made an organic wine with organic grapes in a certified winery, meaning no sulfites for preservation—a rosé named Rosato.
“Rosato is a dark and savory style rosé, so there are many possibilities for pairings. We love the fresh seafood we get on the East End. My wife Sarah is a chef and I love her Peconic Bay Scallop Crudo with Shisito Vinaigrette paired with Rosato, which she prepared for a pop-up event for our wine club. She has also been baking bread and making cheese on our farm, La Strega pairs wonderfully with her sweet potato bread and raw milk camembert. Bordo Antico is a go-to when we have local pork from our friend Tom Hart at Deep Roots Farm.
“My wife and I purchased a small farm in Southold a little over two years ago. Even before the farm we always had an extensive garden and kept bees and chickens. Now we have expanded to more acreage, which means more chickens for eggs, goats for milk, bees, fruit trees and a much larger vegetable garden. All of these things are for use in our Farmstead B&B that is exclusive to our wine club members.
“We have also launched a new brand for our reserve wines which is named after our farm—The Shared Table Farm wines are only available to our wine club, and all of our wines can be tasted and purchased at our retail store The Winemaker Studio in Peconic.”
The Winemaker Studio, 2885 Peconic Lane, Peconic, winemaker-studio.com, 774-641-7488.