What could be better than an afternoon or weekend spent visiting wineries and sampling different reds, whites, rosés, or sparkling wines? Somewhere out there you are sure to find that perfect match with your palette and savor the experience. Of course, whereas sampling winery by winery one at a time is an amazing experience in itself—and the dozens to choose from on Long Island and many times that throughout New York State make it an effortless thing to do—think how much better the experience when you can visit twenty or thirty or more wineries in one shot, and then couple the experience with local cuisine at the same time!
Recently, there have been two especially noteworthy events that brought together such a mix highlighting local wines and foods. The first was the Ninth Annual Brooklyn Uncorked, the other was the inaugural North Fork Crush. Brooklyn Uncorked was held for the first time in its new home in DUMBO, 26 Bridge. Always a great summer kickoff Brooklyn Uncorked, presented by Edible Brooklyn, featured wines from more than twenty New York State Wineries, and edibles from many restaurants from neighboring New York City as well as locally from Brooklyn.
The event offered a chance to hobnob with some of Long Island’s winemakers, including Roman Roth (Wolffer Estates), Christopher Tracy (Channing Daughters), Gilles Martin (representing Sparkling Pointe on this occasion), Alie Shaper (Brooklyn Oenology on their home turf), Kelly Urbanik Koch (Macari) and Russel Hearn (SUHRU). Also represented was a selection of Rieslings from the Finger Lakes Wine Alliance, joining the event for the first time. Food offerings came from a varied lot, including the Grammercy Tavern, Enoteca on Court, Marco Polo Ristorante, the Chocolate Room, and DeKalb Restaurant.
Part of the fun of an event like Brooklyn Uncorked or North Fork Crush (which we will come back to shortly) is the chance to compare many wines and styles head to head in one location. It’s the chance to ‘follow the grape.” To play, try selecting a grape, whether a merlot or a chardonnay, or something suiting your preference, and try the same at as many tables as you want (as long as it is one of the selections being offered). Of course, with so many great wines, that objective can soon be forgotten, especially when the winemakers or other winery pourers proclaim their newest, unreleased releases as a preview! Among those were fine rosés from Mattebella and Macari, Summer in a Bottle from Wolffer, or the newly released 2008 Motley Cru (a fantastic red blend with Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah) or Shindig Fizzi Pink from Brooklyn Oenology.
The new Brooklyn Uncorked venue added a bit of atmosphere to the proceedings as well. A former metal factory in DUMBO, the room now serves as a fun event venue. The high ceilings and more open space than One Hanson Place (a magnificent room in its own right) lent a good accessibility to the tables and an easygoing mood to the festivities.
More recently, New York Wine Events sponsored the first North Fork Crush, a similar gathering held beneath the tents at Jamesport Vineyards. Unlike Brooklyn Uncorked, NFC featured two tastings, one in the afternoon, and another in the evening. Between the two, several hundred people attended to enjoy wines from Long Island’s North Fork, as well as local edibles provided by many NoFo artisanal food vendors. Like the earlier event, this one also had its share of winemakers, including the introduction of Saltbird Cellars by Robin Epperson-McCarthy , Miguel Martin (Palmer Vineyards), Adam Suprenant (Coffee Pot Cellars), Dean Babier (Jamesport Vineyards) and Alie Shaper (Brooklyn Oenology), as well as many edibles ranging from NoFo Crunch Granola to Catapano Dairy Farm, Blue Duck Bakery Café, and North Fork Roasting Company.
In order to alleviate some of the traffic and provide safe travel for attendees, as well as for those first-time visitors to the North Fork, NFC offered packages for travel to and from by bus from NYC for the afternoon session. And for an additional good touch, jazz filled the air…and the tents…thanks to the sounds of Kenny Harris.
Although the weather was overcast and blowy during the afternoon, North Fork Crush offered a perfect venue at Jamesport. It remained festive and friendly under the tents, and like the earlier event, wines new and old found their way into glasses for tastings and for purchase. There were some new touches (such as keg-poured wine from Lieb), and a sampling of wines from the Long Island Merlot Alliance.
All of which comes back to the starting point. It is and remains a fantastic experience to visit each of the wineries and experience individual tasting rooms and vintages; however, when the chance arises to partake of many in one spot, it is a very worthwhile endeavor, whether upcoming on Long Island (Dan’s Harvest East End is coming August 22 to McCall’s in Cutchogue NY) or elsewhere (including the Finger Lakes Wine Festival July 10-12 in Watkins Glen, NY, or the Hudson Valley Wine & Food Festival September 12 and 13 in Rhinebeck NY). If you are already familiar with the wines, this is a great way to reacquaint yourself with them. If you are new to NYS wines, explore and enjoy.