By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor
The Long Island wine community often overflows with more of the same -- vineyard walks, mediocre music acts, tenuous food/chocolate pairing events, and the like. These activities clearly attract customers -- wineries wouldn't spend the time and money on them if they didn't -- and it's easy to simply stick with what works.
But two of the North Fork's top producers -- Roanoke Vineyards and Shinn Estate Vineyards -- are about to up the ante significantly by offering their customers new and unique tasting experiences that are anything but the wine country norm.
It's great to see these wineries engaging with customers is a new and more in-depth way. And there is little doubt that the customers who take part -- and the subsequent relationsihps built with those customers -- will go a long way to making these quality-over-quantity projects worthwhile.
"Wine Libraries" are coming to Long Island.
Later this month -- May 14 for Shinn Estate, May 28 for Roanoke -- each winery will open a "wine library." And while the specifics vary between the two, the concept is similar -- provide an intimate tasting experience with the opportunity for in-depth discussions with those who know the wines best -- plus access to wines you just won't find anywhere else.
"I have been planning, wishing, dreaming about doing this in one form or another for over 25 years," said David Page, co-owner at Shinn Estate. "The first time I experienced local wine, artisan food and inspired conversation in a comfortable setting was at a San Francisco restaurant where I worked as a chef back in 1983. The winemaker was the iconic Paul Draper of Ridge Vineyards. The food was classic California. The experience changed my life forever," he said.
Limited to 6-8 people per tasting, the Shinn Estate library experience will cost $25 and include tastes of 3-4 "otherwise unavailable" wines with local artisan cheeses and small bites. Page will also lead a conversation about the history of local food and wine pairing, the winery's winemaking philosophies and the "connection between farming, culture and cuisine."
The Shinn library is located in a newly remodeled room adjacent to the barrel cellar and the wines on offer will include two limited-edition red blends from the 2007 vintage -- named Clarity and Grace -- as well as small-production wines like their pinot blanc, skin-fermented chardonnay and older vintages.
For more information, visit their website or call 631-804-0367.
The library experience at Roanoke Vineyards is similar... and yet different.
Roanoke's library seats 24 people and will actually house books as well -- to peruse as you sip your wine.
"Library patrons will be able to select several flights of wines from the menu, or choose a bottle from the Roanoke Archives. You'll be able to enjoy some fine cheeses and baguette with the wine, and you'll have a chance to take some time to appreciate it," said Media and Creative Director Scott Sandell.
Pricing will vary, depending on selection but according to Sandell "Wine flights will be quite reasonable. All wines will be delivered to the table with tasting and tech notes, as well as documentation of provenance where applicable."
Provenance comes into play because in addition to a selection of current and early Roanoke Vineyards releases, the library will house every vintage from Grapes of Roth and older Wolffer Estate wines. Sandell mentioned 1996 Pinot Noir and 1997 Estate Selection Merlot specifically.
"We've also been working with some winemakers who have created their own limited-edition wines, and those will be on the menu when available," Sandell said.
Learn more by visiting the Roanoke Vineyards website or by calling 631.727.4161.