We had a wonderful time driving back from Sarasota, FL to upstate New York. We took it slowly and took in some sightseeing and wineries with some nice tastings. America has so much to offer if you are willing to take the time. Glad you had a wonderful time in Canada, like to hear all about it.
My messages will have to be short these days since I am at the mercy of our Public Libarary for internet access... until we can get something set up at our house....
Hi LH Good luck with your computer set up I am always at the public library when we spend time in Arizona I am happy to hear your travels went well and safely. You must have many locations that you call home ??? Take Care - anyone else out there with wine stories of beautiful or memorable places? ...Funtimes
I enjoyed reading your article on Long Island as a fast growing wine region. Here is my little contribution on this subject.
With my husbands family in Long Island, we have had many years of visiting Long Islands wineries, right from the start, when the Pindar winery, www.pindar.net in 1979 turned its potato fields into a formidable vineyard. I still remember their first Pindar Pinot Noir which my husbands brother presented us with as a Christmas present. It was spectacular then, that someone would even think to grow wine in this predominantly potato farm and peach growing region so close to New York City. I think Long Island may be the only wine region on earth that's so close to a major urban center, which means you can come out from Manhattan, see the wineries and then go back to New York City in time for dinner and a Broadway show.
However, since then, savvy travelers have discovered that Long Island's charming wine country (which has grown since the 1970s from one lonely vineyard to more than 30 wineries, yet is only two hours from midtown Manhattan) has enough of its own attractions to prompt a longer, more leisurely visit-especially during summer months. Why rush back to a hot, overcrowded city when you can while away the days sipping wine, go hiking and biking-or just lie around soaking up the sun at one of the area's many beautiful beaches?
Today, Long Island's North Fork boasts more than 3,000 acres of vines sprinkled throughout the quaint towns that line Main Roadfrom Jamesport to Orient Point. And when you visit the area in summer, you'll be among the first to taste the vineyards' newest whites (traditionally bottled in spring) and get an early glimpse of the vines, which are just starting to sprout grapes. Best of all the weather is about as close to perfect as you can get, with pleasantly warm temperatures and crystal-clear skies.
This is the sunniest area in New York State, confirms Brandon Andrews of Raphael, www.raphael.com, one of the North Fork's biggest wineries-and certainly the only one built to resemble an Italian monastery, complete with grand beamed ceilings, medieval tapestries and a catacombs-style wine vault. We also have the most moderate climate, because we're surrounded by water on three sides and the South Fork, which is on the ocean and acts as a barrier."
Indeed this temperate weather-with mild winters, dry summers and long, warm autumns is one of the reasons Merlot and Chardonnay grapes grow so well here. Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Meritage-style wines also are being produced by some of the more forward-thinking vintners.
Taste-wise, Long Islandwines tend to be more European in nature-lighter, more complex and subtly nuanced-than their West Coast counterparts. That is a result of the North Fork's glacial soil, which has been likened to that in Grave, France. (Think of a sandy top layer with a bed of gravel underneath.) This produces wines that have much more in common with Bordeaux region varietals than with those heavy, big-bottomed beauties associated with California.
Long Islandwines are much more French in style-higher in acidity and tannins and minerals, and less obvious than wines from a hot climate like California, which tend to bang you over the head with fruit, explains Preszler. Long Island wines are a little more elegantly structured and subtle, so they go much better with food.
At Raphael this translates to a pleasantly light Sauvignon Blanc and a rich and silky First Label Merlot that would pair beautifully with steak. Raphael's Merlot is produced under the guidance of consultant Paul Pontallier, managing director of France's Chateau Margaux. And Raphael is one of the few East Coast wineries to hand-harvest 100 percent of its crop.
Though it's just minutes away, Peconic Bay Winery, www.peconicbaywinery.com, feels like it's in another world. Unlike Raphael's sprawling 28,000-square-foot tasting room, Peconic Bay is housed in a relatively modest refurbished barn, complete with country-cute decor.
But beneath its rustic-kitsch exterior beats the heart of a serious winery: Peconic Bay's La Barrique Chardonnay was named Best Chardonnay in New York State at the 2004 New York Wine & Food Classic. Several of their other varietals also have won awards, both local and national.
It is at Peconic Baythat visitors eager for a wine tasting lesson will be pleased to make the acquaintance of Tasting Room Manager Melissa Erb, who wants to make sure all guests get the most out of their wine-country experience. According to Erb, the difference between a $16 bottle of wine and a $60 bottle often has to do with the scarcity or abundance of that particular crop of grapes and the amount of labor that went into producing the wine. But that doesn't necessarily mean the more expensive bottle is better than the cheaper bottle, or that you will, or should prefer one more than the other. "Either is OK," she says. "It's apples and oranges."
After your Wine Tasting lesson, amble over to Palmer Vineyards, www.palmervinyards.com, and take the self-guided tour, which offers visitors a behind-the-scenes peek at the winemaking process from vine to table. That's something available at many vineyards here, though only Palmer is set up with explanatory signposts so guests can walk through the vineyard on their own. Most North Fork wineries are, in fact, family owned and operated, which means you're as likely to meet the folks who actually grow and bottle the grapes as not-something you won't find in most of the bigger wine regions. There seens to be a more intimate approach here.
Indeed. At Paumanok Vineyards, www.paumanovineyards.com, for instance, it's not uncommon for owners Charles and Ursula Massoud or one of their three sons to offer a tour of their high-tech facility. They might join guests in a tasting that could include their Sauvignon Blanc-a crisp, clean, super-dry white-and their Assemblage, a peppery, full-bodied red.
"When we bought the vineyard in 1983, it was a potato farm and we planted right away," Charles Massoud, a former IBM executive, explains. "In the beginning the challenge was knowledge, given that we didn't have any prior experience growing grapes-just sheer passion and enthusiasm. We really know a lot more today about how to grow grapes and make great wines on Long Island, and we continue to try and sharpen our act, so to speak."
At Shinn Estate Vineyards, www.shinnestatevinyards.com owners Barbara Shinn and David Page spend weekend afternoons walking visitors through their 22-acre vineyard. They are passionate, hands-on winemakers, and they produce a classically traditional Bordeaux-style Merlot that blends Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec grapes. "It's a complex, full-flavored wine, but its not flabby and big like a California Merlot," says Page. It's much more elegant, I think.
Ros and Chris Baiz own the spectacular waterfront winery, The Old Field, www.theoldfields.com, a small, but equally hospitable operation. It is the second-oldest winery in the area, having been established in 1974 on land that has been in Chris' family for four generations. After offering a tasting of their Burgundy-style Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and sparkling 2000 Blanc de Noir, the latter won top champagne honors at an Atlanta wine competition, Roz and Chris might encourage you to drive through the vineyard to take in the breathtaking view of the bay from the rolling expanse of lawn in front of their house. It's a popular spot for weddings and other events - so picturesque is the setting.
Bedell Cellars, www.bedellcellars.com, now owned by New Line Cinema co-Chief Executive Officer Michael Lynne, is a decidedly more grandiose operation. The art-filled tasting room and already modern winemaking facility underwent a multimillion dollar expansion last year. But the day-to-day operations still are overseen by original founder Kip Bedell and his former wife, Peggy. Their tasting room pourers are as friendly and insightful as they come.
The next time you are in Long Island, just visit a few of these great wineries, take a tasting tour and see for yourself.
I'm off to the Alentejo region of Portugal next month. The vineyards/wineries in this area are said to be very good. Does anyone have any suggestions of particular/favorite wineries to visit in the Alentejo? I'll report back upon my return.
Crusinred ... Your trip sounds wonderful!!! Portugal is not exactly unusual wine country - I know you will find many small vintners. Italy was amazing - also not unusual wine country but it truly is all it is rumored to be. Montefalco is the city of wine and olive oil - even on their city signs! What's not to like? I'm certain you will have the same great experience in Portugal enjoy and safe travels ...Funtimes
The Alentejo is the least populated of the five Portuguese regions. The Alentejo is also the up and coming region for the production of fine wine--and the region has plenty of interesting towns, castles, and archaeology to keep the visitor happy for weeks.
This Alentejo map shows some of the most important tourist towns and attractions in the region.
Towns of the Alentejo Region Evora is perhaps the best known of Alentejo towns. The historic center of Evora is designated as a world heritage site, and features a pretty complete Roman temple dedicated to Diana, as well as a famous bone chapel. Evora has a nice ambiance, and spending three days here wouldn't be too much.
Monsaraz was built to keep eye on the Spanish border and the River Guadiana. It's called the jewel in the crown of the Alentejo for good reason; the hilltop town is gorgeous in white. Property values have soared recently for this reason.
Elvas is known for its brandy and pottery production, and features the impressive Auqueduto de Amoreira and the 17th Century Fort de Santa Luzia.
Borba is known for its ceramics and its marble; visit the Museu de Cermica (Ceramics Museum), walk around the ruins of the medieval castle, and peek inside the 15th century Church of Nossa Senjora.
Evoramonte has a medieval castle and you can see permanent exhibitions on the town in the Torre de Managem. 2006 was the celebration of the 700th anniversary of the castle.
Beja in the southern Alentejo had many of its historical features destroyed in the 19th century, but the town is a pleasant one to stroll in, and has a fabulous Posada in which to stay, the So Francisco. Beja's best known attraction is its Torre de Menagem. Climb the 138 steps for a panoramic view of Beja and environs.
To the northeast of Beja is the town of Vidigueira. Vasco da Gama acquired the town from the King in 1519.
Just outside of Vila de Frades you'll find the 2nd Century Roman ruin So Cucufate, a Roman villa with frescos dating between the 1st and the 17th Century. In the tascas, homes and restaurants around Vila de Frades you'll find the practice of making wine in the Roman way.
In Serpa you'll find the famous Serpa cheese (made in nearby Brinches). You'll wander among 15th century single-story houses, be drawn to the castle, and learn what life was like in the old days in the Ethnographic museum. The most unexpected museum in Serpa may well be the Museum of the Watch, which records 350 years of watchmaking with 1600 pieces on display.
Moura is a town of aulndant water and some of Portugal's best olive oil. Visit the Museu do Azeite, with its olive oil press and olive oil tasting, and the Mouraria (Moorish Quarter). Visit Noudar castle that defended Moura, preferably at sunset.
Hope this will help. Have a wonderful trip and report back.
Can't wait to hear about your trip Crusinred!!! LHBrown what wonderful information you posted ...makes me want to go next trip! We are pretty booked through next spring thanks to LL. Did you purchase an LL package or are you on your own? LL has definitely made better picks than I have made myself. Our neighbors just returned from a Mexico cooking adventure with LL and they are raving - good reports about their trip. take Care ...Funtimes