Play ball! The 2016 baseball season started today. Matt Harvey was able to overcome a GI infection to start the Met’s season, but was unable to overcome the Royal bats as the Mets lost the season opener to the Kansas City Royals in a World Series rematch. In celebration of opening day, today’s wine excursion was a bit different. Not just a tasting, but a complete dinner accompanied by music. Starting in the dead of winter and continuing into early spring, Diliberto Winery on Manor Lane in Jamesport has what they call “Sundays with Grandma”; where wine, food and music converge together for a lively enjoyable afternoon. But on our way to grandma’s house, a quick stop at one of the newer distilleries on the North Fork: Twin Stills Moonshine.
Twin Stills is located on Sound Avenue in Riverhead and is run by Joe and Pat Cunha. While growing up, Joe learned about distilling from his grandfather who owned a distillery in Portugal. Twin Stills is what they term a micro distillery and sell moonshine, which is a corn-based spirit. The mere mention of the word moonshine brings visions of revenuers breaking up a still with an axe. Or flashbacks to the Untouchables, where Elliot Ness would hunt down mobsters making illegal booze and pouring it into the sewer. But their moonshine is a refined and totally legal product that is available in different flavors: strawberry, honey, apple pie, coffee and plain. All served in shot-size ceramic cups. They are open only on weekends and in addition to the moonshine, they offer moonshine-based cocktails and local beer on tap. Because this was my first stop, I sampled the coffee moonshine. My dinner companion for the day, being a whiskey purist, had the unflavored version. Not being a whiskey drinker I can’t really comment on the quality. But judging by a large group of satisfied customers in the tasting room during my visit I would say that their product was a hit.
With pre-game festivities behind me, it was on to Diliberto for dinner with Grandma. As soon as you enter the tasting room, you feel like you’ve been transported to an Italian piazza. We were greeted by a friendly group of diners, many of them repeat customers from previous Sunday dinners. It was just like a family reunion, which in a way it was. After all, this was a Sunday dinner at an Italian household, so of course guests are treated like family. Sal and Maryann Diliberto are not just serious about making wine, but are passionate about their Italian roots. Where else this side of Naples can you munch on taralle and lupine beans while sipping a glass of wine?
Diliberto was started in 2001 and is a popular destination where wine, food and music converge. Sal is a lawyer by trade, but a vintner by heart. He is also a chef, a singer and the immediate past-president of the Long Island Wine Council. After a glass of their Sauvignon Blanc, which was paired with homemade mozzarella, Sal did a pasta making demonstration. As every Italian knows, music makes everything better. So, while Sal was making pasta, the Diliberto Angels (servers, pourers and other assorted members of the Diliberto extended family) serenaded us. After a few more Italian folk songs, it was time for the pasta course. This was served with a glass of Cantina, their Merlot and Cabernet Franc blend. There was also Sal doing his impression of Dean Martin singing “That’s Amore” and Dana Kowalsick, the Marketing & Wine Club Manager over at Lieb Cellars, singing an aria from Gianni Schicchi. Having grown up with a mother and aunt who were opera buffs, Dana’s rendition brought tears to my eyes. Not only is the music from Puccini incredibly moving, but Gianni Schicchi was my aunt’s favorite opera. But that’s the way it should be at Sunday dinner at grandma’s house, before the night is over, a few tears must be shed. We ended the afternoon with some pizza dolce and a glass of homemade limoncello. And of course more music! And one more glass of wine: I decided to end my afternoon with a glass of Tre, their mostly Merlot Bordeaux Blend.
I left Diliberto totally contented; mind, body and soul. Not just ready for the 2016 baseball season, but ready for a nice long nap on my couch in front of the TV. And thinking back to my Sunday dinners with my grandma, that was the typical ending for Sundays at the Stevens’ household.
Today’s Line Score: 1 wineries, 4 wines and 125 miles.
Season Statistics: 31 wineries, 117 wines and 1,281 miles
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