“We immediately agreed that our winery and tasting room would be oriented to serious wine drinkers like ourselves. We did not want to create a gift shop that also sells wine. We also did not want to build a bar that happens to focus on wine sales.” That’s how Hal Ginsburg, one of the proprietors of Clovis Point, describes he and his partners’ vision for their new wine venture.
In 2001 Ginsburg and two friends of his – Nasrallah Misk and another who is no longer involved in the project – looked at ten acres of property on Main Road in Jamesport and decided to purchase it and turn the farm into a small vineyard with a converted-barn tasting room. Jonathan and Renae Pine and Richard Frey also joined as proprietors and the Clovis Point label was born. They added an existing vineyard on Herrick’s Lane in 2002 and the combined vineyards go by the name East End Vineyards.
The name Clovis Point refers to the sculpted tools found near the vineyard and that now adorn the labels. These tools were used by Native Americans on Long Island’s North Fork over 10,000 years ago. Now, with vineyard manager Peter Gristina, formerly of Gristina Vineyards (now Galluccio Family Wineries) and currently of Duck Walk Vineyards, tending the vines and John Leo of Premium Wine Group making the wines, Ginsburg and his partners are hoping to open their tasting room this winter.
“When the tasting room will open is essentially out of our hands since it is dependent on town approvals,” Ginsburg said.
Ginsburg and Misk, who act as managing partners, chose Gristina as vineyard manager both for his experience and because they were “impressed with his obvious knowledge and his willingness and desire to manage a high-end project from the ground up.”
The wines are being made at Premium Wine Group, the East Coast’s only custom crush facility, where John Leo first came into the picture. Ginsburg says, “beyond finding him an easy person to work with, we found him extremely knowledgeable and committed to making fine wines that focus on the fruit, not simply oak and other ‘winemaking tricks.’ It was also crucial to us that we have someone who would spend every day with our wine, not just show up from time to time as consulting winemakers often do and just give some directions to the Premium staff. John is at Premium every day and we believe that his ability to taste and pay constant attention to our wines will allow us to make consistently better wines.”
“What stands out to me about the fruit of East End Vineyards is the distinctiveness of the chardonnay fruit and the pure fruit qualities of the reds,” said Leo, who works with a lot of different North Fork fruit at Premium.
Asked to describe his winemaking style, Leo – thankfully – eschews words like “hands-off” and “non-interventionist,” instead saying that he “(tries) to recognize the best potential of the grapes that are harvested, extract that character, minimize the shortcomings, and then blend the different lots of the resulting wines to come up with a drink that is elegant, interesting, balanced and deceptively attractive. I like wine that opens up and out and gets more satisfying with every sip.”
I'll be writing later this week about the three wines they currently have available – two 2004 chardonnays (one reared in stainless steel, the other in French oak) and a 2003 merlot. So stay tuned.