For a few months now, I've been trying to schedule a meeting and tasting with Jim Waters, founder of Waters Crest Winery. Sunday, without scheduling a thing...we finally met and I got to taste his wines.
Jim is a great story and should be an inspiration to any home winemaker with designs on making it a career. He worked for years as a manager for large trucking companies all the while making wine at home (and winning some awards for it as well). He was, and still is, a volunteer fireman as well and without that, I'm not sure he'd be a full-time winemaker.
After the tragedy of September 11th, he found himself at Ground Zero, working side-by-side with other firemen...and he realized that life was too fragile and fleeting to not make a change. Not long after, he quit his job with the trucking company and opened his own winery.
His production runs are small (he made only 50 cases of his sold-out Meritage) but every last bottle is important to him. "I can honestly say that I've touched every single bottle of wine I make," he added as we chatted over tastes of his current Merlot, Riesling and Chardonnay (and a barrel sample of his Cabernet Franc).
Charming and engaging, we spent about an hour talking about his wines, his story and the Long Island wine region. This is the kind of winemaker that people need to knwo about. He's not from "old money" or even from "new money." In a land of CEO- and royalty-owned wineries, Waters Crest stands out...for any number of reasons.
I don't have complete notes on the wines (but I did buy them all...so they'll be coming) but here are some quick notes:
2003 Waters Crest Riesling ($17): Absolutely delicious. Alsatian all the way with citrus and melon with terrific acidity. One of the best two or three best Rieslings on Long Island...at least. Get yourself a bottle.
I'm hoping to do a story (for print publication) on Jim, his story and his wines...so keep an eye out for more on Waters Crest Winery here on LENNDEVOURS.