What (and where) was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking?
I do not remember the first bottle of wine that I ever drank. I do remember though, when I was in law school in NYC, becoming very interested in the Sherry-Lehman wine shop on Madison Avenue, and especially the Sherry-Lehman wine catalog. I used to read every issue from cover to cover, studying all the descriptions of wines, the prices, the scores, trying to figure out which ones might be good. The wines I bought at that time were almost exclusively red wines from Bordeaux, not super-expensive ones, but ones that I thought were a good value for the price. Not First Growths, but maybe 3rd, 4th or 5th growths that seemed to have a good price-quality ratio.
What event/bottle/etc made you decide that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
It was Memorial Day weekend, years ago, and I was driving back from upstate NY with one of my Japanese friends who ultimately became one of my business partners in the Comtesse Therese vineyard. At the time, I was doing home winemaking out of kits and I loved gardening, and I had been talking about how nice it would be to have a small vineyard, about an acre, just to do home winemaking with. And Chizuko, my friend, who had some experience with home winemaking herself, said she had always wanted to be the owner or part owner of a vineyard, so she suggested that we go into a partnership together to invest in a vineyard. The thought of doing it alone was too daunting, from a financial, emotional, and psychological perspective, but with partners it was less daunting, and so we decided to go ahead and buy some land and start the vineyard.
Which of your current wines is your favorite and why?
The 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon. It has now bottle aged to the point where it is drinking very well. It really is interesting to see how the wines age and improve over a couple of years.
What has surprised you most about being a winery owner on Long Island?
The amount of money and time that it takes. The amount of government agencies I have to deal with. The high degree of risk, and the low rewards.
Other than your own wines, what wine/beer/liquor most often fills your glass?
My husband is the one that buys the wines, so whatever he happens to have around the house. He is certified as a sommelier and likes to try wines from a lot of different regions, for his education. I am not that particular about what I drink, as long as it is dry and red. I do like a dry white wine once in a while though, like a Bordeaux Blanc.
Is there a 'classic' wine or wine and food pairing that you just can't make yourself enjoy?
I am not crazy about foie gras with Sauternes. Maybe it’s because I don’t like sweet wines. Since it is meat, I would rather have foie gras with a red wine.
Wine enjoyment is about more than just the wine itself. Describe the combination of wine, locations, food, company, etc. that would make (or has made) for the ultimate wine-drinking experience.
I think I have had the most fun when traveling in Europe with my husband, and we just go into the local supermarkets and get cheap, and I mean cheap, local wine to drink with some local food. We get some local cheeses and breads or sausages or whatever and then bring it back to our B&B for lunch, or even an early dinner. When we were in Beaujolais, we got cheap but really good Beaujolais for 1.50 Euros in the supermarket, we got some good wines in Portugal for a couple of Euros, we did the same thing in Tuscany, etc. It is amazing how good the wines were for less than 5.00 Euros. In the Loire Valley, we had some great cabernet francs for less than $10. In Normandy, I loved the butter too, the local supermarkets had about 20 varieties of local butter, and we would put it on the bread and eat it just about every day in the car as we were touring around.