By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor
The Lenz Winery in Peconic has a new tasting room manager. His name is Jerol Rickard and he brings experience in project management, market research and litigation to the job -- experience that should serve him well running the tasting room at one of the North Forks classic wineries.
He brings a unique perspective on wine as well, having grown up in California wine country. A member Lenz wine club before joining the company, he's also keenly familiar with the portfolio and in local wine in general.
And now, he answers our set of seven questions...
What event/bottle/etc made you decide that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
I grew up in Northern California, in the Bay Area, and Napa and Sonoma were right in my backyard. On weekends, visiting wineries was always a choice on the list of activities.
On a trip to Napa for a friends 30th birthday we visited Andretti Winery. As we were all gathered on the terrace with our wine glasses in hand, toasting to his birthday with a glass of 2001 sangiovese, I was taking in the scenery, the rolling hills, and the vines in the distance and thought “Man, this is the life; I could do this every day.”
What (and where) was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking?
In 2001 my mother bought me a Napa Valley Wine and Dine train ride for Christmas.
During that train ride we stopped at Grgich Hills Family Winery and were given a glass and cellar tour. After the cellar tour, we were able to purchase a bottle (although I do not recall which bottle I bought, I did take note that it was the first bottle I ever purchased.) of wine to open during the dinner portion of the train ride.
Which of your current wines is your favorite and why?
There are so many wines that I enjoy at Lenz, after all I was a wine club member prior to working at the winery.
If I had to choose one and only one it would be the cabernet sauvignon. I know that merlot and chardonnay are always among peoples favorites at Lenz and on Long Island but Eric Fry does a tremendous job with the cabernet sauvignon, and it was that wine alone (2006 vintage) that ultimately made up my mind to sign up for the subscribers program.
What has surprised you most about being a member of the New York wine community?
What most surprised me would have to be the sense of community and support from other industry people, employed at Lenz and all the other wineries on the North Fork. Just the other day I was at a BBQ where there was a mixture of winery owners, winemakers, managers and tasting room staff, all in one spot enjoying each other’s company. It was a great thing to be a part of.
Other than your own wines, what wine/beer/liquor most often fills your glass?
If it isn’t wine it would be a Scotch on the rocks, however, often times it is wine. Some of my favorites are Italian wines, such as Zinfandel/Primitivo, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo etc.
Is there a 'classic' wine or wine and food pairing that you just can't make yourself enjoy?
I am a huge fan of red wine with an appreciation of white wines, except for sweet wines. Anything slightly syrupy is definitely not on my list of cravings.
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.
Recently my partner (who is also in the industry) and I have been involved with a blind tasting group. We meet once a month to taste different wines organized by the host of the night. It is a blind tasting, meaning that we do not know the maker of the wines, so it pushes you to really get in to the wine and test your senses.
At the end of the night being among friends, enjoying and learning (in most cases) about new wines, eating food specifically paired with the different wines is both educational and enjoyable, making it, in my opinion an ultimate wine drinking experience.