Although manyLong Islandvineyards have installed drip systems, the size of these vineyards is relatively small compared to the vineyards ofCalifornia. Many of these systems are used only in cases of extreme drought as our natural rainfall and low yields create less of a need for artificial irrigation. In most years, we get plenty of rainfall providing our vines with all the water they need to grow and prosper, and without putting the pressure onLong Island’s aquifer that many other row crops do.
Buying local wine contributes to the local economy.Long Islandwineries employ local workers, everyone from field hands to tasting room employees. The wine business requires a lot of diverse employees, from harvesters, cellar workers and salespeople to the numerous staff required to host wedding receptions. Young people working at vineyards and wineries can learn a number of important skill sets that can help them later on in life. Tasting rooms add a substantial amount of revenue to local coffers, in the form of both property and sales taxes. In this economy, we need to keep our business local.
4. Low-Impact Agriculture
Our vineyards onLong Islandare using some of the best growing techniques in the world. Most vineyard managers are incredibly careful about being responsible stewards of the land, whether it involves soil-conservation practices, biodiversity, weed-control or wildlife management.
InNew York, Long Islandvintners are leading the way in sustainable and organically based vineyard practices. A new certified-sustainable winegrowing program, Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing, debuting in May 2012, will be the first of its kind on the East Coast.
Almost every kind of wine can be found onLong Island: red, white, rosé, dry and sweet, all made on a small scale. Consumers can visit our wineries to meet winemakers and taste what they are offering. Where else can you walk into a place of business and try something before buying? Local wineries allow people to taste and tour while getting a feel for the business. One truly can’t compareLong Islandwines to the giant, mass-produced and aggressively priced concoctions that flood the marketplace.
Even so,Long Islandstill presents itself as a cost-effective choice. Research by Trent Preszler (a Cornell-trained agricultural economist) published in 2009 showed thatNew Yorkwines were on average about half the price of French andCaliforniawines onNew York Cityrestaurant wine lists, and the average price ofCaliforniareds was almost $95 per bottle. Contrasted against similarly produced, small batch, hand-harvested and sustainably grown wines made from other regions, Long Island wines are not only world-class, but a great value.
2. Local Flavor
You’ve probably heard the term terroir used to describe the flavors of wine. In a nutshell, it loosely means that authentically made wine reflects the characteristics of the environment in which it was grown. This is a fundamental concept of how biological systems work—whether it’s applied to grapevines or to people. Whether you think our wines are better doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the aromas and flavors ofLong Islandwines are found nowhere else in the world—a distinction definitely worth celebrating!
In a recent article in the New York Timesabout local wine in restaurants, one San Francisco wine director explained his preference for European wines over the local choices found in nearby Napa by stating, “at our restaurant, you need low-alcohol, high-acid wines, and they don’t come from the New World.” Seriously? Too bad the guy never heard ofLong Islandwines. Matt Kramer’s recent article in Wine Spectator also made the case thatAmerica’s wine palate is slowly trending toward lower alcohol, crisp and elegant wines.
Those are exactly the types of wines we make—a style of wine that with climate change is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve inCalifornia. If you want to taste something that is the most fashionable wine craze in the world right now, open a bottle ofNorth Forkvino. So let’s celebrate our good fortune and our life on theEast End. We are blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful things to eat and drink. Not only is local wine fresh, delicious, stylish and sustainable, it’s all our own and can’t be found anywhere else in the world. I’ll drink to that.
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