Category Archives: Where I am Going

The 2014 Long Island Harvest Through the Lens of Macari Vineyards

All photos by Carl Timpone

In case you missed my column Unscrewed, here’s a second chance to read about the 2014 Long Island harvest.

For the New York wine industry, nervous anticipation of fall isn’t about the return of fireside cocktails, knee-high leather boots, and felt fedora hats, or tacit permission to eat like a grizzly headed into hibernation. Autumn equals harvest, and depending on the quality of the growing season, which runs right up until the minute each cluster of plump berries is separated from its life-giving vine, that can be a joyous or heartbreaking occasion; a single, severe storm at or before picking can decimate a year’s worth of toil.

As the last grapes of the season were collected, I consulted the family and winemaker at New York’s Winery of the Year (awarded by the New York Food & Wine Classic), Macari Vineyards, for a report on the vintage and the future of Long Island’s 2014 wines. Prognosis: Expect deliciousness.

Winemaker Kelly Urbanik-Koch gave a resoundingly positive weather account: “We experienced a relatively cool and dry summer. We usually receive rain in September and October, and summer humidity is frequently an issue, but this year, humidity was mercifully lacking, resulting in little to no disease pressure in the vineyards.” Urbanik-Koch is one of few female winemakers in the region. She’s also young, at 34, making her a refreshing anomaly in the older, male-dominated Long Island wine industry.

The Macari family has owned and worked the 500-acre waterfront farm in the North Fork since 1963, although the winery wasn’t established until 1996. Joseph Macari Sr. planted the vineyards with his son Joe Macari Jr., fulfilling a lifelong dream that began in a Depression-era basement in Corona, Queens, where he made his first batch of wine.

A shining example of the term “family business,” Macari Vineyards is now run by three generations, including Joe Sr., now 87 years old, and each contributes to its success. Joe Jr. manages the vineyard and cellar teams, while his wife, Alexandra, oversees the tasting rooms and wine club and gives feedback on blending decisions. Their four children — Joe Macari (yep, a third Joe, and also a vineyard manager), Thomas Macari, Edward Macari, and Gabriella Macari — all keep the gears greased, especially during the intense, backbreaking hours required by harvest.

Gabriella, who oversees distribution and marketing, expects the 2014 wines to be elegant and expressive with intense and complex flavors due to a slow and steady ripening season. She said their biggest challenge of the year was being restricted in the amount of experimentation they normally do: “With such gorgeous fruit, we weren’t limited by nature, but rather time. All those healthy grapes kept us too busy pressing to think about anything else. It’s a good problem, but it made for a very laborious year.”


Adding to the strenuous nature of vineyard work is the Macari philosophy of farming along biodynamic principles, a practice Joe Jr. incorporated long before the concept gained mainstream awareness. “We are by no means certified biodynamic and do not follow it rigidly, but we believe small implications have helped our vines tremendously,” says Gabriella. The family tends a herd of cattle that contributes manure to the composting program. They also keep bees and sell a small amount of honey to local restaurants, the remainder given as gifts to fortunate friends.

Continuing unintentionally ahead of the trend curve, the Macaris produce a low-alcohol Chardonnay they release right after harvest called Early Wine; it sells out quickly every year. (Low-alcohol wines have been a growing category around the country.)

However, it’s Long Island’s classic grape, Cabernet Franc (if there is a designated “classic” yet), that has the family excited about the new vintage.

When young, Cab Franc expresses North Fork terroir with savory herbaceous notes mixed with bright red fruits and refreshing acidity. With age, olive and dried herb notes can develop, while high-quality wines retain balance and acidity, have length, and develop silky tannins, like the Macari 1997.

“We opened our ’97 Cab Franc for a tasting last March at Astor Center and it blew me away,” says Gabriella. “The wine could have held on a couple more years. It’s proof that our wines have world-class longevity, and it is motivation for my family to keep producing the grape as a single varietal.”

For those eager to sample the vintage without waiting for the 2014 Cab Franc, not likely available until late 2017, Macari just released the Early Wine last week. The wine can be purchased in one of its two tasting rooms or on its website.

Fortunately for most Long Island vintners and their fans, 2014 was an excellent vintage. If the best wines age as well as the 1997, made in an average year, then expect remarkable results.



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Rare French Wine Auction to Raise Funds for Jerome Lejeune Foundation, November 13th in NYC

Every so often I promote a fundraising event that I think benefits a particularly worthwhile cause, while simultaneously features exciting wines in its charitable pursuit. Working to improve the lives of those afflicted with Down Syndrome and other genetic intellectual disabilities, the Jerome Lejeune Foundation will receive money raised  from upcoming November 13, 2013 seated wine tasting and auction hosted by Metrowine, conducted by Sotheby’s. A collection of rare French wines will be offered; the list of wines and further information on the event is provided below. Naturally, if you can’t attend the event, you can always donate directly.

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Pioneering innovative therapies to improve the lives of those living with Down syndrome and other genetic intellectual disabilities.

Deadline November 6th,
Register TODAY!

Wine pouring_sized

Wine Tasting
and Auction

to benefit
the Jerome
Lejeune Foundation

November 13, 2013
320 Park Ave. (at 50th St.), NYC

Hosted by Metrowine Distribution Company, Inc., New York
with Badet-Clement & Co., Nuits-Saint-Georges, Beaune.
Auction conducted by Sotheby’s.

A sampling of the wineries which will be represented for auction include:
  • Domaine de La Romanee Conti, Vosne-Romanée
  • Domaine Méo-Camuzet, Vosne-Romanée
  • Maison Louis Jadot, Beaune
  • Domaine Henri Boillot, Vonay
  • Domaine Vincent Bouzereau, Meursault
  • Domaine Dubreuil-Fontaine, Pernand-Vergelesses
  • Domaine des Beaumont, Morey-Saint-Denis
  • Hospices de Beaune
    Beaune 1er Cru “Cuvée Brunet” 2009 labeled “au profit de la Fondation Jerome Lejeune”

More producers and wines may be viewed here.

These wines are distributed to the U.S. in very limited quanitites each year. Don’t miss this excellent opportunity to obtain rare wines at auction prices. Wines have been donated for this event by friends of the Jerome Lejeune Foundation in France. Your purchases will directly support the mission of the Jerome Lejeune Foundation, USA.

Other wines will be auctioned, or available for direct purchase, at deeply discounted prices. Wines will be available in prices to suit casual wine drinkers as well as connoisseurs and collectors.

This is a perfect opportunity to purchase gifts, and to stock cellars and wine racks for the holidays.

REGISTER NOW. This is a professionally served, seated tasting. Attendance is limited to the first 125 who register.

Location:    Mutual of America Building
320 Park Avenue (at 50th St.), 35th Floor
New York, NY

Time:          6:30 PM Cocktail reception
7:30 PM Seated tastings, followed by the live auction

Price:          $350. Tastings, reception and hors d’oeuvres

All proceeds will benefit the Jerome Lejeune Foundation, USA, a tax-exempt, 501(C)(3) charitable organization. All but $100 of each ticket price may be claimed as a charitable contribution on federal income tax.

Click to register, or call 267-403-2910.

For more information, see,

Cropped_LejeuneJerome Lejeune was one of the most significant figures of the 20th century. In 1958 he discovered the existence of an additional chromosome on the 21st pair, establishing, for the first time, a link between an intellectual disability and its genetic cause. Lejeune would go on to discover the genetic cause of cri-du-chat syndrome, and to advance understanding of fragile X syndrome and others. In 1962 he was honored by President John F. Kennedy with the first Kennedy Prize for his research into genetic intellectual disability and for discovering the genetic cause of Down syndrome. In 1969 he received the William Allen Award from the American Society of Human Genetics – the highest award possible for a geneticist. Jérôme Lejeune died April 3, 1994, shortly after being appointed by Pope John Paul II to serve as the first president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. His cause for beatification was introduced in 2007 and is now being considered by the Vatican.

The Jerome Lejeune Foundation is the world’s largest private funder of research into genetic intellectual disabilities. Its mission is to provide research, care, and advocacy for individuals with Down syndrome and other genetic intellectual disabilities by conducting, promoting, and funding in the United States therapeutically oriented research; by assisting in the development of healthcare services for these individuals; and by serving as their advocate in a spirit of respect for the dignity of all human persons.
2007399E-LOGO-AF-QThe Wine Tasting and Auction to benefit the Jerome Lejeune Foundation is made possible in part by the support of Air France

Auction and tasting hosted by Metrowine Distribution Co, Inc., New York, in collaboration with Maison Badet-Clément & Co. Nuits-Saint-George, Beaune.

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First Days in Sydney, September 13-14

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Where I am going: Australia

My Epic Monthlong Journey Down Under

Part 1: Sponsored by Wine Australia,

Part 2: Independent Adventure



Departing JFK on Qantas, Wednesday, September 11.

SydneyThe Darling, September 13-15

Adelaide, for Australia’s First Global Wine Forum: SAVOURIntercontinental Hotel, September 15-19

Cool-Climate Wine Regions of Victoria and Tasmania, sponsored by Wine Australia, September 19-25

End of Wine Australia Program.


MelbourneThe Art Series Hotel: The Olsen, September 26-27

Alice Springs/King’s CanyonKings Canyon Resort, September 27-28

Uluru and Kata Tjuta (Ayers Rock)Sails in the Desert, September 28-30

Great Ghan Train from Alice Springs to Darwin, September 30-October 1

DarwinH Hotel, October 1-2

Mary River Wetlands near KakaduWildman Wilderness Resort, October 2-4

DarwinMantra Pandanas Hotel, October 4-5

Melbourne, Fitzroy neighborhood Air BnB private home, October 5-7

Mornington Peninsula, Yarra Valley Wine Tastings, overnight in Dandenong Ranges A Loft in the Mill, October 7-9

MelbourneThe Art Series Hotel: The Cullen, October 9-10

Return flight home on Qantas, October 10.

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Weekend Plans? Drink and Dine on Long Island’s East End at Harvest


I feel sad about this, but we don’t live in Maui, and there is no endless summer in our future (at least the immediate future–who knows about the long term with global warming). And even though we New Yorkers generally get to enjoy warm days until late October, when the weather turns like clockwork to freeze all the wannabe strippers at Halloween, we should still celebrate the close of another season with–you guessed it–an outdoor blow-out wine and food bacchanal.

This Saturday, August 24th, McCall Vineyard & Ranch in Cutchogue on the North Fork of Long Island will host Harvest East End, a one-stop shop for the sybaritic pleasures of food and wine. The event is perfect for people who don’t want to plan out independent winery visits, go on an organized tour, or just plain drive between wineries after forgetting to spit. Over 40 local vintners and 30 local restaurants convene at this annual festival to show off their vinous and edible wares. The tasting celebrates the zenith of harvest, and it also serves as a charity fundraiser benefiting four important regional charities: East End Hospice, Group for the East End, the Peconic Land Trust, and, new for 2013, the Long Island Farm Bureau Promotion & Education Foundation.

The event is presented by Wine Enthusiast magazine and organized by the Long Island Wine Council with support from Merliance. The Festival-level tasting runs from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and costs $150, and you can either purchase tickets in advance online or at the door (assuming there’s still availability–might not want to leave it to chance if you’re going to head out there from the city). Ballers can splurge on the $250 Vin-IP experience, earning them advanced entry at 6 p.m., table seating, access to the Library Lounge showcasing selected older vintages, and a stocked insulated tote courtesy of Whole Foods. Oh, and up-front parking–always a plus anywhere in Long Island during these final summer days.

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Sip, Slurp and Save lives on March 22nd @ City Winery with Stark Wines

Looking to do good while drinking wine? Join me at this event while tickets are still available!

Wine & Oyster Pairing

Friday, March 22 @ 6:00PM

Tickets are $75/person

Share: Facebook Twitter Pinterest


Join City Winery on World Water Day, to enjoy Stark Wine, slurp North Atlantic oysters (and eat other tasty appetizers), and help bring clean drinking water to people in some of the world’s poorest communities through WaterAid.

WaterAid,, is a leading international organization that helps the world’s poorest communities gain access to safe water and sanitation. Nearly 800 million people worldwide lack access to clean drinking water. WaterAid transforms lives by improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation in 27 countries in Asia, Africa, the Pacific Region and Central America. To date, WaterAid has helped 17.5 million people gain access to clean water.

Stark Wine,, is a Sonoma-based winery with a mission to make delicious wines and give back. Through a partnership with WaterAid, Stark Wine has helped give clean water for life to over 200 people in 2012. The goal is to double the number of people they help in 2013.

Throughout March, Chelsea Wine Vault will donate $1 to WaterAid for every bottle of Stark Wine, Stark Thirst or Stark Wild sold. Look for CWV’s “1 Bottle = $1 For WaterAid” when wine shopping online at or in-store at 75 9th Avenue at 16th Street inside The Chelsea Market.

Brooklyn Oyster Party are the people to know for oysters in the NYC area. BOP’s speciality is sourcing local and sustainable oysters from the North Atlantic coast. From sourcing, to shucking, even clean-up, check out


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Get Your Tickets to NY Drinks NY

And Support the Wineries in our Backyard

NY Drinks NY: March 2013
Monday March 18, 2013
Grand Tasting
Featuring more than 40 New York wineries from the Finger LakesLong Island,Hudson River RegionNiagara EscarpmentLake Erie and Thousand Islands.
An all-New York selection of cheeses, charcuterie and hors d’oeuvres will be provided by the New York Wine & Culinary Center.
Monday, March 18
12 – 4 pm Trade
6 – 8 pm Consumer
Astor Center
399 Lafayette Street (at E 4th Street)
Public admission:
$35 tickets ($25 before January 15) are limited
and can be purchased below or here.
Trade and Media RSVP »

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