By Lenn Thompson, Long Island Editor and Editor-in-ChiefLamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake in New York's Finger Lakes region.
He has an M.S. in Enology and Viticulture from Cornell University and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Prior to Lamoreaux Landing, Paul made wine for Ravines Wine Cellars and Keuka Lake Vineyards in the Finger Lakes, and Whitehaven Wine Co. in Marlborough, New Zealand.
He is a graduate of the American Wine Society Judge Certification Program and holds an Advanced Certificate in Wine and Spirits through the Wine & Spirit Education Trust of London, England.
And now, our standard questions:
What (and where) was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking?
I had a dishwashing job when I was in high school. One night I “borrowed” a bottle of wine from there to bring to a party. Turns out that I wasn't as cool as I thought… the wine ended up being cooking sherry (an early adopter of the screw-cap).
What event/bottle/etc made you decide that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
I was working as a patent examiner in Washington D.C., locked up in an office all day pushing paper and talking with lawyers on occasion. My wife-to-be challenged my ability to appreciate wine. I read a highly respected wine book ("Wine for Dummies"). I liked what I read and over breakfast one Sunday morning in January 2001 we came up with a five year plan to join the wine industry in the Finger Lakes. My background in chemical engineering helped me understand and get excited about winemaking. I couldn’t get enough information. Our plan has worked out perfectly so far.
Which of your current wines is your favorite and why?
Truly I like them all. If I had to pick a favorite, I would say our chardonnay mostly because I enjoy making it and the idea of making it.
We have a wide selection of grapes from five vineyards, use multiple cooperages and I have numerous blending opportunities with 100+ barrels and several tanks each year. We only make two chardonnays, our regular vintage chardonnay and our reserve. Both come out of the same program. The regular chardonnay is racked after 10 months in the barrel while the reserve remains on the lees in barrel for an additional six months. I always say that these are the wines that we put the most time into. Stirring, topping and testing barrels from harvest till the following July or December lets us really get to know these wines as they develop. We had 120 barrels, divided into 18-plus lots this past vintage.
The reality is that chardonnay is the number one wine varietal in the world. I feel it is often overlooked in the Finger Lakes as we have the potential to make a world-class chardonnay, but few producers are putting a lot of effort into them.
What has surprised you most about being a member of the Finger Lakes wine community?
The answer is in the question. The community as a whole has surprised me.
I am extremely impressed by the amount of information we are all willing to share with each other. As a winemaker I feel comfortable talking with many other winemakers for advice or to borrow supplies if what I need is not on hand.
Other than your own wines, what wine/beer/liquor most often fills your glass?
Genesee Cream Ale. It is highly underrated, a local beer (Rochester) and goes great with a wide range of food. We like to call it our house beer, and the riesling of mass-market beer. I also drink other wines from across New York all the time.
Is there a 'classic' wine or wine and food pairing that you just can't make yourself enjoy?
Not really. I am open to all wine styles as long as they are well made. I can usually find some aspect of a pairing to appreciate. Just the other night I was drinking an otherwise salty and undistinguished Swiss wine paired with duck hearts and gizzards. It was delicious.
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 love being outside on a nice day with my wife, two wine glasses and a well thought out meal made with local ingredients to pair with the wine. Whether we are at a concert, camping or just enjoying a picnic down at Seneca Lake State Park its about as good as wine enjoyment can get for me.