Explore Long Island Terroir

aerial view of Long Island

Grape growing and limited wine production on Long Island dates back to the late 1600’s, but the first commercial vineyards on Long Island were planted in the early 1970s under the stewardship of Alex and Louisa Hargrave. Their work lured investors, grape growers, and accomplished and promising winemakers to the region. Today, the region is home to more than 60 wineries and a number of satellite wineries/stores and is considered by Wine Enthusiast as a region with incredible potential for the world-class wine that “appears in some of the country’s best restaurants and has a presence on the international stage.”

The climate and soil of Long Island plays a major role in the terroir of the wines produced in the region. According to Harvey Steiman of Wine Spectator, terroir “comprises all the physical elements of a place that can affect the character of wine made from it.” The primary viticulture areas of Long Island are divided into two peninsula-like “forks,” known as the North and South Forks. The South Fork, which encompasses the Hamptons AVA, has fewer wineries and vineyards but does have a soil type that separates it from the North Fork, known as Bridge Hampton Loam, which has a higher clay content and water holding capacity. The North Fork is made up of Haven Loam, which has a higher sand content and drainage capacity. Both sit atop subsoils of glacial sand and gravel deposits. The South Fork is cooler and has a slightly truncated growing season (about 2 weeks shorter) because of the coastal influence of the Atlantic.

Stylistically, similar enough wines are produced, and vineyards from each fork are sometimes even blended. The climate is significantly warmer and garners riper Bordeaux style blends than the upstate AVAs which have less protection from winter temperatures for ripening grapes like Merlot. Excellent white wines are produced on Long Island as well, including textured, almost California sun-kissed, Chardonnays, Gewürztraminer, and Sauvignon Blancs, and a handful of less well-known grapes that different wineries have had major success with, like Albariño, Chenin Blanc, Malbec, and Shiraz. Specific examples can be found below:

BEDELL CELLARS

2018 MALBEC

Malbec is a rising star on Long Island, with early ripening times and intense color and flavors. This 100% varietal was made from sustainably farmed estate grown fruit, fermented with indigenous yeasts. The 2018 vintage was unique and exceptional.

Suggested Retail Price: $22.50

Sweetness Level: Dry

CHANNING DAUGHTERS WINERY

2018 ROSATO CABERNET SAUVIGNON PETILLANT NATUREL

Made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon this bubbly has a gorgeous pale pink-salmony orange color and intoxicating aromas and flavors of sour cherry, sugar plums, yellow plums and watermelon accompanied by our telltale minerality. Dry and delicious with great texture and balance as well as luxurious feeling bubbles.

Suggested Retail Price: $28.00

Sweetness Level: Dry

CHRONICLE WINES

2017 SALTBIRD CELLARS SAUVIGNON BLANC

Don’t let the light straw coloring fool you. This Sauvignon Blanc has the refreshing and zesty freshness we expect from a Sauvignon Blanc. Mouth filling overtones of honeydew and clover with undertones of coconut water. On the palate, lime gives way to the full yet exotic fruit flavors.

Suggested Retail Price: $ 24.00

Sweetness Level: Dry

LENZ WINERY

2014 GEWÜRZTRAMINER

Dry, aromatic wine with fresh pineapple and ginger spice along with unique aromas and flavors of rose petals, tea, nutmeg, lychee and grapefruit.

Suggested Retail Price: $20.00

Sweetness Level: Dry

LIEB CELLARS

2017 ESTATE SPARKLING PINOT BLANC

This Méthode Champenoise sparkling wine is made from 100% Pinot Blanc grapes and, on average, ages three years before being disgorged in small lots to guarantee a crisp, fresh wine. This brut sparkler boasts a nose redolent of green apple and pear, accented by hints of citrus, honey, and yeast. The palate comes alive with delicate, refreshing, tiny bubbles.

Suggested Retail Price: $38.00

Sweetness Level: Dry

MACARI VINEYARDS

2015 CABERNET FRANC

This Cabernet Franc is bursting with notes of strawberry, cherry, and fresh herbs. With a lively freshness of red fruits on the palate, this wine is medium bodied, has layers of flavors, and a long, persistent finish. 100% estate fruit from the Macari family farm in Mattituck.

Suggested Retail Price: $38.00

Sweetness Level: Dry

PALMER VINEYARDS

2019 ALBARIÑO

In need of refreshment? Look no further with this unique vino typically from Spain. Crisp apple, sweet peach and the ever so slight touch of orange peel and fragrant gardenia are sure to hit the spot after a long day’s work…or play.

Suggested Retail Price: $30.00

Sweetness Level: Dry

PAUMANOK VINEYARDS

2019 CHENIN BLANC

The Paumanok 2019 Chenin underwent a slow, cool fermentation in stainless steel tanks. It was bottled with a screw cap to preserve freshness and cleanliness. The result is a fresh, crisp, racy, and bracing Chenin that is redolent of grapefruit and pineapple, with more subtle notes of melon, apple and guava. It makes an excellent companion to various white meat fish dishes, such as striped bass, flounder, cod and lobsters and especially oysters.

Suggested Retail Price: $29.00

Sweetness Level: Dry

SUHRU WINES

2018 SHIRAZ

A rarity in the United States, this cool climate Shiraz pays homage to winemaker Russell Hearn’s native county Australia. This vibrant wine has a rich, dark hue with aromas of cigar box and dried herbs with a hint of black pepper and spice. A beautiful wine to sip on its own while also allowing the bold flavors to stand up to a heavier meal.

Suggested Retail Price: $24.00

Sweetness Level: Dry

WÖLFFER ESTATE VINEYARD

2017 FATALIS FATUM
(37.5% Merlot, 31.5% Cabernet Franc, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Petit Verdot)

A rarity in the United States, this cool climate Shiraz pays homage to winemaker Russell Hearn’s native county Australia. This vibrant wine has a rich, dark hue with aromas of cigar box and dried herbs with a hint of black pepper and spice. A beautiful wine to sip on its own while also allowing the bold flavors to stand up to a heavier meal.

Suggested Retail Price: $24.00

Sweetness Level: Dry

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Jennifer Cooper

Jennifer Cooper

Jenn manages Membership and Events at the New York Wine & Grape Foundation.