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.

jlf logo small 4
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

FacadeVictoriaBldg GeorgeStreetSydney Sydneyfrombridgechainlink SydneyHarbor

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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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Update: Can Red Hook Winery Be Saved?

Last week, I visited Red Hook Winery. I posted an update on their Post-Sandy status in my column Unscrewed for the Village Voice.  If you missed my article, here is your second chance…

Red Hook Winery tasting room post-sandy.jpg

A few weeks ago, I wrote about celebrating the new Brooklyn wine trail. Both Brooklyn Oenology and Brooklyn Winery, featured in the story, were relatively unscathed by Hurricane Sandy. But Red Hook Winery is located right over the water, nearly at the end of Pier 41, and the facility was completely exposed with zero buffers from high winds. When Sandy brought 11- to 16-foot storm surge waves, the winery was pummeled. TheAndrea Gail in The Perfect Storm comes to mind.

The first heartbreaking report on the damage came from Christopher Nicolson, head winemaker, through an interview given soon after the storm to Nona Brooklyn. He forecasted a near total loss after winds blew planters through the glass doors, and waves swept through the winery, flooding the space with five feet of water. The flood ruined electrical equipment like forklifts and pumps, scattered barrels of aging wines, and soaked and smashed hundreds of bottles as though Charlie Sheen and the devil teamed up for a Bacchanalia.

I visited RHW a week later to see if any hope had been dug up from the debris, spending last Friday with Christopher Nicolson and winemaker Abe Schoener. I can confirm that, sadly, the winery will not be hosting tastings and tours anytime soon.

RHW is still without power. They are working without light and heat (and it’s cold with that winter wind blowing off the water). Lots of renovation will be required, including the removal of several walls and its recently refurbished bathrooms, to flush out trapped water. To make matters worse, insurance won’t cover loss from flooding.

But for all the destruction, Abe and Chris feel blessed. The Red Hook Initiative sent dozens of volunteers daily to assist in clean-up; Luciano Racca of Domencio Clerico wines in Piedmont, Italy, spent three days volunteering after his NYC appointments to promote his own wines were cancelled; and staff from Terroir wine bar lent a hand.

If RHW is unable to salvage any of their current vintage, numerous offers showing support and solidarity among the winemaking community have rolled in: a winery in Oregon offered a vintage worth of juice; Hermann Wiemer up in the Finger Lakes offered juice, equipment, and general assistance in hopes that RHW won’t have to go a season without making wine.


But Abe and Chris now believe the wine gods kept an eye on their babies after all. After tasting through the wines, some stored in sealed stainless steel tanks, others in puncheons, they found much of the juice alive, in excellent condition. Ironically, the lack of heat coupled with the chilly air might have saved a lot of their wine. Assuming the final product is technically sound and they are happy with the results, the other caveat which is the caveat to saving any part of the vintage, is whether the EPA tests will conclude all or some of the wines are OK for sale, or instead deem them “salvaged” from a flood or contaminated. Nobody knows that answer yet, so in the interim, the plan is to keep calm, carry on, and make wine.

So that’s what they did for four days in the dark, cold winery. Last Friday, I helped drain tanks by gravity flow and we sent North Fork Chardonnay into barrels with a donated pump. The wines I tasted were fresh and good, but mere caterpillars propelled into wooden cocoons where they will lay for the next year, hopefully to emerge with wings and an EPA stamp of approval.

Abe seemed optimistic, an attitude both inspiring and, frankly, dumbfounding given the circumstances. When asked the best way to support the winery, the answer from the entire team was a definitive BUY WINE. RHW maintained cases of safe, dry bottles in a separate warehouse, and have updated its website to inform customers of their offerings, with orders to be placed via phone or e-mail and then shipped out. For alternative retail sources, check USQ Wines, Brooklyn Wine Exchange, Acker-Merrall, and Amagansett Wines. Several local restaurants are extending support through glass and bottle sales; visit Gilt, Terroir (multiple locations), and Arthur on Smith for a drink and a bite.

Red Hook Winery lost a lot, and, without insurance coverage, it might be enough to put them out of business. But for now, with spirit, community support, and a little luck from vinous deities, the odds are looking better that RHW will be around another vintage.

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Where I am going: Post-Sandy clean-up at Red Hook Winery


Red Hook Winery

Tomorrow I head out to Red Hook Winery on Pier 41. Having just returned from a long trip to Italy, extended by a week due to flight cancellations from Sandy, I am only now getting up to speed on the amount and severity of damage done by the hurricane.  Unfortunately, the destruction includes near devastation to our local and beloved RHW.  A few weeks back, I tasted the exciting wines being made by Abe Schoener and Robert Foley, helmed by head winemaker Christopher Nicolson. At the time, I remarked how gorgeous their location was over the water, particularly when the sun dropped below the horizon. Sadly, Mother Nature giveth and she taketh away, and reports suggest RHW is facing a near total loss.  I will be volunteering all morning and apprising readers of the situation through the Village Voice and my blog, with updates on volunteer opportunities and cloudy crystal ball predictions for their future. Stay tuned.

For the most comprehensive report from Christopher on RHW’s situation, please see Nona Brooklyn for a heartbreaking interview given last week on the 2nd. Hopefully tomorrow, a week later, the RHW team will have dug from the debris more hopeful news.

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Where I am going – Wine Riot in NYC

The Wine Riot is coming!

As a frequenter of wine tastings, I am always intrigued by new, original ways of presenting wine to the public, particularly when the tasting is on the weekend with a DJ and features a mobile app in place of tasting notebooks.  The Wine Riot, coming to New York this week, is an offering of 300+ domestic and international wines that has traveled to 6 cities this year, having originated in Boston in 2009.

The Riot, although welcoming of all wine lovers, does try to fill a void in the marketplace by catering to a younger, social-media reliant crowd that lack a high degree of wine knowledge and are antsy to learn more without reading a 900-page tome or taking a $1200 course.

This newest generation of wine drinkers, or “Millennials” as referenced by the wine industry, should have access to events that are fun, hip and educational; that showcase good, easy to find wines at reasonable prices; or so believe the founders of Wine Riot, Tyler Balliet and Morgan First. With this in mind, Tyler and Morgan are determined to change the landscape of wine events, starting with the Riot:

“Wine Riot will feature over 300 wines from the Loire Valley and Burgundy in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, South Africa, Austria and Australia. Guests can personally chat with vintners from around the world at interactive booths to learn about wines that are mostly under $30 a bottle. Wine Riot also offers 20-minute Crash Courses where guests can sit down with producers to taste their way through Portugal or learn all about German Riesling in the free seminars.”

A mobile app will let guests upload all the wines featured at the event, allowing them to keep track of favorites without having to carry a pen and notebook around, like the old-timey days.  Guests will also be able to order favorites post-Riot, should they find a bottle they can’t live without.

Will the crowd embrace the format? Will the wines be good?  I will report back next week, but at the very least, it should be a fun party!

Event Details:

Wine Riot, hosted at the 69th Regiment Armory (68 Lexington Ave.) in Manhattan, kicks off with a special opening evening on Friday, September 21 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.; tickets are $60 per person. The two Wine Riots on Saturday, September 22 are from 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.; tickets are $50 per person/per event. All wine is included in ticket price.  For tickets and more information visit:

A little ham with your wine?

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