Dan's North ForkGrapevine

What’s Happening with North Fork Wines? News and Notes from Wine Country

Sparkling Pointe, Martha Clara, Sherwood House, Old Field and more!

The days are long and sultry, and the bubbly surf calls out to us. But, alas, you can’t stay in the water all day.

Luckily, there are other refreshing bubbles to partake of. Sparkling Pointe, on the North Road in Southold, specializes in making bubbly champagne-style wines. For many of us, this proves a Divine intelligence is at work in the world. For if Sparkling Pointe didn’t exist, then how could we specialize in drinking bubbly champagne-style wines?

“These are exciting times for us,” says Mike Falcetta, the general manager at Sparkling Pointe. On August 19, Sparkling Pointe released two new prestige wines—the 2014 Blanc de Noirs Seduction and the 2014 Blanc de Blancs Seduction.

Of these two, the 100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs is a first for the 8-year-old winery. “It’s all North Fork fruit, completely local,” says Falcetta.

Of course, you don’t need to wait for the next special release to have a wine-soaked celebration on the North Fork. How about raising a glass to the transition from summer to fall?

Over at Martha Clara Vineyards on Sound Avenue in Riverhead, they have Wine Down Wednesdays every Wednesday in August from 6 – 9 p.m., with wine (naturally!), live music and a food truck. That sounds good, right? Even better: it’s all practice for Martha Clara’s 7th Annual Stomp Party on Sunday, September 9! That’s when you’ll get a chance to get some grape skin between your toes as you work your feet to help turn those newly harvested grapes into fresh juice, fit for fermentation. A reward for your labor? How about a nice glass of wine, some tasty food, live music and bucolic bike rides around the vineyards?

Meanwhile, over at Sherwood House Vineyards on the Main Road in Jamesport, things are quite a bit calmer. “We’re smaller, so we don’t have the capacity to do large-scale events,” says Sherwood House tasting room manager Rachel Sunday. For those who prefer to sample wines studiously in a serene, quiet space, this could be your new favorite spot. Their current seasonal tasting includes the 2016 Oregon Road Chardonnay, the 2016 Sherwood House Chardonnay, the 2015 Hound’s Tree Rosé, the 2016 Oregon Road Cabernet Franc, and the 2016 Hound’s Tree Cabernet Sauvignon.

Speaking of scholarly pursuits, The Old Field Vineyards on the Main Road in Southold is offering a vertical pinot noir tasting on Saturday, August 25. “It’s an intimate affair, down by the bay,” says Ros Baiz, who owns and runs The Old Field with her husband Christian and their grown children. In case you’re jumping to conclusions, a vertical tasting is not a tasting where you have to remain standing throughout. A vertical tasting is an event where you taste several examples of the same style of wine made in different years by the same vineyard.

At The Old Field’s vertical pinot noir tasting, instead of sampling the vineyard’s range of wines, guests will have a chance to taste five different vintages of The Old Field’s pinot noir, sharing their impressions with winemakers Ros and her son Perry. “We’ve done similar tastings with our merlots and cab francs,” says Ros, who hasn’t yet decided which vintages of pinot noir to feature at this year’s event. The tasting will be followed by a box lunch.

Finally, while you’re out enjoying North Fork wines, it’s always good to be thankful for Long Island Wine Country. A relaxing drive down Sound Avenue is great at any time of year—enjoying the view of acre upon acre of grapevines. But it takes a lot of energy and commitment on the part of highly skilled viticulturists and winemakers to keep this wine region strong and vital, especially when it would be perhaps more profitable and less labor-intensive to just sell this acreage to the highest bidder.

Palmer Vineyards winery
Photo: Courtesy Palmer Vineyards

That’s why many of us were so relieved to learn that the 60-acre Palmer Vineyards in Aquebogue, which had been on the market after the death of its founder Robert Palmer, has been purchased by nearby Paumanok Vineyards. Have no fear: the grapevines will remain at Palmer. So stop in for a tasting and sing ho for the open highway.

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