Macari Vineyards’ Significant Contributions to the Local Industry Earn It the Unity Awards’ Winery Award

Our unwavering principle was never to release a wine we wouldn’t personally enjoy or take pride in serving,” says Gabriella Macari, director of operations for Macari Vineyards, speaking of the winery’s history of making quality wine on Long Island. It’s that unwavering principle that contributed to the New York Wine and Grape Foundation honoring Macari Vineyards with the Winery Award in the 2024 Unity Awards.

The award recognizes major contributions in “advancing the image and reputation of the New York wine industry.” For almost 30 years, Macari Vineyards has been doing just that. 

In 1995, Gabriella’s grandfather, Joseph T. Macari, a son of Italian immigrants, opened the winery along with Gabriella’s parents, Joseph Macari, Jr., and Alexandra Macari. Joseph T. Macari’s inspiration for starting a winery could bring a smile to anyone’s face. 

“My grandfather’s family settled in Corona, Queens during the Depression. At a young age, he helped his parents in their candy store and helped his grandparents sell homemade wine at their backyard bocce courts,” says Gabriella. 

He ran a thriving real estate business for many years, but as Gabriella recalls, her grandfather’s memories of his grandfather making wine in the family’s basement in Corona inspired him to open a winery with his son and daughter-in-law. 

Playing a Part in an Evolving Industry

“Initially, our local wine industry was small, locals were skeptical, visitors were sparse, and there were only a handful of ambitious and hopeful growers and producers,” says Gabriella. But the local industry and its wineries have evolved in many ways, thanks, in part, to the pioneering work at Macari. 

“Now, there’s wide consumer support for local wine, more serious, quality-minded operations, and increasing demand for local wine and experiences such as private educational tastings, tours, and pairings,” explains Gabriella.

Her family’s winery holds a significant part in that evolution, particularly on Long Island. The winery began at a time when Long Island’s wine industry was small and the wine world was not convinced the region could produce good wine.

“We feel we played a pivotal role in the development and growth of the local industry by focusing on soil health, quality viticulture, and winemaking from the beginning,” says Gabriella. 

That focus has earned many accolades for the winery, including recently being named one of the best Long Island wineries to visit by Wine Enthusiast and a nod from VinePair as one of the best East Coast producers of Syrah. In an industry that embraces the concept behind the aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats,” it’s understood that the accolades that Macari receives elevate the region as a whole. 

There’s always more that can be done to continue to advance the image and reputation of Long Island and New York wines, including guest education, which Gabriella believes is tremendously important to that goal.

“We’re increasingly focusing on consumer education in our tasting rooms,” she says. “Over the years, we’ve noticed that guests are curious about wine, viticulture, and winemaking. I’m especially proud of our team for continuously growing their wine knowledge—from weekly team tastings, and training, to many of our team members passing high-level WSET exams.” 

Connecting with New York and the U.S.

Gabriella also sees the path to advancing New York’s wine industry as one that starts right where they are and then branches out.

“We always say that we need to keep connecting with our backyard,” she explains. ”While elevating the reputation of our wines abroad through distribution is important, I’d like to first see more New Yorkers supporting New York wines. More New York restaurants buying New York wines. More retailers promoting and selling New York wines. This would be an enormous win for the industry which would then support an effort to promote and grow our image and reputation abroad.”

She feels the same about New York’s neighbors. “Beyond New York, it’s also time for the rest of the U.S. to realize the entire East Coast is producing delicious, ageworthy, and balanced wines,” says Gabriella.

Fortunately, many people who live in the winery’s backyard are on board. The surrounding community is increasingly supporting its local wine industry.  Wine club memberships are expanding and include local families, those from other parts of Long Island, New York City wine drinkers, and many in New England states.

“This trend reflects a positive shift in community support for the local industry, contributing to its overall success and growing recognition,” believes Gabriella. 

Macari Vineyards certainly exhibits the spirit of the Unity Award’s Winery Award.

“It’s a tremendous honor to be in the company of other top wineries that have won this award in the past,” says Gabriella when speaking of how grateful she and everyone at Macari Vineyards is to receive the award.

“This prestigious recognition is a testament to the dedication and passion of our entire team at Macari Vineyards,” she says. “This award is not just a validation of our viticultural and winemaking efforts but also a celebration of the vibrant community that supports us. It reinforces our belief that unity in the wine industry is key to achieving excellence. We share this award with our loyal Wine Club Members, frequent visitors, our hardworking staff, and the North Fork community that has been our home for decades.”

Picture of Kathleen Willcox and Robin Shreeves

Kathleen Willcox and Robin Shreeves

Kathleen Willcox and Robin Shreeves' work frequently appears in Wine Enthusiast, Wine Searcher, Wine Industry Advisor, and many other publications. They co-founded Thinking Outside the Bottle, which provides communications services to the drinks industry.