"Our wines are made in the vineyard."
Like many clichés however, it is firmly rooted in fact. Even the world's greatest winemaker won't be able to make outstanding wine from un-ripe, low-quality fruit.
Winemakers may be the celebrities of the wine world -- even here on Long Island -- but the good ones know how important a top vineyard manager is. It's a symbiotic relationship unlike any other.
Les Howard, winemaker at Jamesport Vineyards, gets to work with one of North Fork's best, Ron Goerler Jr, who also happens to own Jamesport Vineyards.
Goerler has been growing grapes for much of his life. His father, Ron Goerler Sr., planted Jamepsort's first vines in 1981, making him only the fourth person to plant vines on Long Island. Almost from the beginning, the Goerler family earned a reputation for growing some of the best fruit around -- and deservedly so.
Howard, who joined Jamesport Vineyards in 2005 after stints at Pindar Vineyards, Wolffer Estate and Bedell Cellars, is taking that quality fruit and turning it into quality wines.
Howard's sauvignon blanc (look for the 2007 release this spring) is a terrific example of the grape's local potential and his deft, judicious use of oak in his chardonnay program leads to wines that express their vineyard's terroir well. The fruit's quality is always front and center here, not buried under piles of oak.
Four recent releases show off not only Goerler's vineyard skills, but also Howard's emerging style.