Long Island. Home of infinitely imitatable accents, Billy Joel, and some surprisingly delicious wine. The last item is something of a well-kept secret – locals know the grapes on LI are good, but the rest of the wine world seems to be woefully in the dark – something Jackie Bryant at AFAR is aiming to change with her stellar article outlining the real reasons we should all be wine tasting on Long Island.
If Long Island seems like a funny place for respected vineyards or perhaps you’re assuming it’s a newfangled hipster idea to put wineries there at all, you couldn’t be more wrong. Maybe the area doesn’t have the rich history of Tuscany or long-standing vinification traditions of even “newer” regions like Napa, but wine on Long Island is hardly an ’00 invention.
…. grape cultivation started on Long Island in the early 1970s, when Hargrave Vineyards planted the region’s first commercial vines. After years of trial and error, Long Island wines have finally been able to achieve the reputation they deserve, and the region has become a wine destination in its own right. And it was a particular grape—cabernet franc—that helped turn the tide.
That’s right. Not only is Long Island finally get their wines the spotlight, they’re gaining momentum on the back of a grape that much of the world uses primarily for blending purposes.
A hardy, savory grape used mostly in blends, cabernet franc rose to prominence in France, only to end up playing second fiddle to merlot. Inspired by Bordeaux, Long Island vintners planted the grape in the early 1980s to create classic Bordeaux blends, which usually consist of a combination of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc, and other varietals. Eventually, winemakers discovered that cabernet franc did especially well on its own. It’s suited to a maritime climate; nestled among the Long Island Sound, Peconic Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island offers the perfect conditions.
There are other grapes worth drinking on LI, but the growing popularity of Cab Franc showcases how a region can become empowered by planting the right grape at the right time. Here in the U.S., our wine industry is relatively young and we’re still discovering what works where. The fairly recent ascent of Pinot Noir in Oregon is a fantastic example as is the success of Rhone varietals in parts of California previously restricted to Cab Sauv and Zin.
So, where should you go to sample the magic of these toothsome, earthy, fruity Cabernet Francs? Bryant recommends Wolffer Estate, Pindar Vineyards, and McCall Wines, just for starters, as well as Croteaux Vineyards which is proudly the sole rose-only vineyard in the country.
For more recommendations on where to go and what to taste, head over to the original article. Happy sipping!