What (and where) was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking?
I was in grad school working at an expensive downtown restaurant in Chicago (called Nick's Fishmarket, originally from Honolulu), managing the service bar where all the wine was stocked, and the conductor of the Chicago Symphony came in with guests, ordered two each of spectacular wines and left half the wines for the staff -- a Lafite Rothschild (1976 maybe?), a Chevalier Montrachet, and a German Bernkastel Docktor. I was only 22 and could never afford wines like that!
What event/bottle/etc made you decide that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
A long-term hobby that I nurtured while working in the computer biz in California, I thought the idyllic gentleman farmer/winemaker would be a great business to retire into.
Which of your current wines is your favorite and why?
Lieb Pinot Blanc -- our oldest vines, extremely food friendly, great expression of the terroir of the region and our vineyard.
What has surprised you most about being a winery GM on Long Island?
Well its not the idyllic farm life. It's really hard work (agriculture) and the marketing and distribution side of the business is extremely competitive. It's such a heavily regulated industry that it's tantamount to government approved favoritism towards the largest producers and distributors. But now you have me up on my soapbox...
Other than your own wines, what wine/beer/liquor most often fills your glass?
A good German or Belgian beer, and I am also learning about artisanal sake.
Is there a 'classic' wine or wine and food pairing that you just can't make yourself enjoy?
I'm not into the big red wine and beef experience. I find the wines sometimes overbearing but the main reason is beef is a special occasion food.
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.
Wine for me is part of the excitement of travel. Wherever I go I try to sample the local wines as well as local food and culture. I have gone to Burgundy and Alsace in France, probably a dozen AVAs in California, Finger lakes in NY, and northwest regions in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. I have even combined camping, backpacking, and motorccyle touring with wine adventures. Combining wine with other adventures keeps it all fresh, otherwise I'd probably get all wine'd out!