By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief
While most of his background is in academic ecology and biology, and he only joined the wine industry a little bit more than a year ago, right around when we met.
at Roanoke started as a part-time, weekend "gig" while he was
instructing courses at SUNY Southampton,
but now he's postponed teaching to focus more on wine and the local
This fall he got a little taste of harvest by picking
grapes with co-owner Rich Pisacano and his crew and worked a few days in the Wolffer
Winery with Roman Roth and his crew.
Adam is hoping to get more experience in the vineyards, winery and cellars, and is also training to be certified as a sommelier through the Court of Masters.
And now, our standard set of questions:
What event/bottle/etc made you decide that you wanted to be in the wine industry? I credit Rich and Soraya Pisacano, the owners of Roanoke Vineyards, for their generosity and for sustaining a business that is a great place to work. I'm used to the freedom and flexibility of academia, and at Roanoke its not all that different!
These are talented and knowledgable people that are passionate and dedicated about the wine they craft. Their passion and enthusiasm is matched in our tasting room by the fans of our wine. These customers are not just excited about our wines, but they are also supportive of the region in general. I hear good things all the time; listening and responding to that feedback is an important part of my job that I take very seriously.
Which of your current wines is your favorite and why? I've been a fan of cabernet franc since we released our first in the 2006 vintage. The Gabby's 2006 was a knockout. We just released the 2007 vintage, and it's killer. I'm still trying to get a handle on my preference among those three, but honestly I think that there are reasons to love them all.
I enjoy cab franc because of its nuance and character and its versatility with food pairings. It has a good balance of tannins, flavors and natural acidity. I think those characteristics also make it a fine wine to drink on its own.
What has surprised you most about being a member of the Long Island wine community? What surprises me most is how often people are surprised by the quality of wines from Long Island. People that have lived in this area much longer than me are just now finding out that there are world-class wines in their backyard. Some of that arises from the fact that the region itself is small and isolated at the tip of the island, and that overall production and distribution are relatively limited. At the same time, small production and limited distribution is part of what creates excitement and demand for very fine wines like those produced at Roanoke Vineyards.
Other than your own wines, what wine/beer/liquor most often fills your glass? I'm training to become a sommelier, so one of my goals is to drink both Old World and New World wines of major varieties, make comparisons and taste them blind. I've been into 'value'-priced reds from Italy's Piedmont and Portugal, New- and Old-world viognier and sauvignon blanc.... the toughest job is finding the time and getting all my friends together to share all the wine! I also still enjoy the George Thorogood trio of bourbon, scotch and beer, but I don't drink them as often any more.
Is there a 'classic' wine or wine and food pairing that you just can't make yourself enjoy? I still need to taste beluga caviar and Krug champagne or a classic vintage Sauternes with Foie Gras before I die. So if anyone wants to help me out with that, Roanoke Vineyards is located at 3543 Sound Ave Riverhead, NY.
I'm usually there all weekend! But on the other hand, I don't want to eat or promote the eating of too many classic pairings that include endangered or mistreated animals.
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 forage and cook with my girlfriend and our friends all the time.
The highlights of summer included clamming by canoe in North Sea Harbor and enjoying the clams raw and grilled on the half shell with Roanoke's blend of barrel- and tank-fermented Chardonnay. Another night my neighbor gave me a bluefish that we grilled and had along with Gabby's Cab Franc! Then one day while I was mowing, I found Boletus growing under pine trees in my yard! My girlfriend made a Thai Tom Yum soup with those bolete mushrooms and I made sweet and spicy coconut-curried pork skewers that we paired with Roman's Grapes of Roth Riesling. We finished that meal off with a Spatlese riesling from the Mosel and local sweet corn on the cob 'Mexico-City-street-cart-style', with limes and chiles! It was a weird fusion of local foods and distant styles, but it was amazingly delicious.
This fall we made a brown butter sauce with a variety of wild mushrooms, squash ravioli, and roasted cauliflower, pepitas and currants that we had with a Dolcetto d'Alba. And most recently we made a meal with our friends that featured carrot ginger parsnip soup, a salad of arugula and dandelion with Forelle pear, Roquefort, walnuts and a blackberry vinaigrette, crabcakes, and a rack of lamb with roasted carrots and broccoli. It was a fun feast that we paired with a dry Vouvray for the crab and Cortes de Cima, a Portuguese red blend with the lamb, then we ended up opening a Borghese cab franc and Gran Vecco Malbec from Argentina just to keep things going!