From humble beginnings to world class wines
It all began in 1977, when 15-year-old Richie Pisacano began working in the pioneering vineyards of Long Island where he witnessed firsthand the profound impact one can have. Driven by a harmonious blend of timeless wisdom and a clear vision, Richie's path led him to acquire land in Riverhead, where the seeds of Roanoke Vineyards were sown. It was on this precious ground that he unveiled his true muse, focusing his devotion on nurturing the rare and elusive cabernet sauvignon — a varietal overlooked by many at the time.
In the lee of a hill, in aim of the sun
Nestled between the Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, our vineyard thrives in the gentle influence of maritime breezes which, at nightfall, bring a refreshing coolness to the vines even on the warmest days. This unique microclimate, coupled with the sun-drenched summer days and cool nights, creates an ideal environment for the grapes to ripen slowly and develop their exquisite flavors. The harmonious interplay of temperature, humidity, and gentle winds bestows upon Roanoke Vineyard a distinct advantage, fostering grapes that embody the essence of the land and reflect the artistry of winemaking at its finest. Located slightly further west than the rest of the North Fork’s vineyards, we are fortunate to have a bit warmer weather that gives us a ripening advantage ideal for growing the varietals we are most passionate about - Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The sum of the land, the weather and the people
This remarkable land, caressed by the gentle breezes of the nearby coast, unveils a tapestry of microclimates and diverse soil compositions. From the sandy loam near the shore to the mineral-rich clay further inland, the terroir of Riverhead offers a symphony of flavors and complexities, creating an ideal canvas for grape expression. Bathed in abundant sunshine, moderated by maritime influences, and blessed with a unique balance of moisture and drainage, this terroir gifts the vineyards with optimal conditions to nurture grapes of exceptional character and express the true essence of the land.
In the Vineyard
Seven and a half miles of love
Gabby Pisacano, our esteemed late vineyard master, continues to influence our varietals from one vintage to the next. With meticulous pruning, Gabby understood the importance of eliminating fruit to enhance airflow, minimizing disease risks. Early intervention also results in higher flavor concentration, a tradition we uphold throughout the vineyard until harvest. Our attention to each vine is critical to our success. By nurturing the potential of each vine, the vineyards find balance and harmony which, in turn, is reflected in our wines. At Roanoke Vineyards, all due respect is given to the natural order of things, and the shared dependence we have with the native flora, fauna and insects. They secretively, and often not so secretively, live out their lives among our vines and do their part to keep the vineyard’s ecology balanced and healthy.
Faces in the Crowd
A glamorous job that sometimes requires getting covered with mud, scratched by grape vines, and chased by bees. Soraya is also our liaison to the East End food and wine community, and the force behind our programming at Love Lane. She is a fountain of information and experience, and we'd be lost without her.
Rich Pisacano will be the first person to tell you that the secret to making 95-point wines is to stay agile, keep your mind open, and realize that sustainability is only the starting point for understanding the vineyard and one's obligation to it. Rich has 40 harvests on his resumé, and he remembers each in great detail.
From making wine in his native grounds in Germany, Australia, and on Long Island's East End since 1992, Roman has developed a special affinity for the varietals here on Long Island and sees Roanoke wines as a creative platform. The Grapes of Roth, Roman's private label, made Wine Spectator's top 100 list.
Wine Club Director
As director of the Roanoke Vineyards wine club, a critical position in our membership-based company, Jennie knows most of our members by name and curates our quarterly wine club portfolios. She's been in the Long Island wine business for over fifteen years and meets every Roanoke member with a warm welcome. She is an avid watercolorist, and paints every day. Look for her first solo painting exhibition soon!
Another artist on our team, George Fernandez spends his time at Roanoke in the vines. His attention to detail as a realist painter is easily transferred to critical canopy and cluster editing. George found himself inspired by Roanoke's late Vineyard Master, Gabby Pisacano, and says he can channel Gabby's energy when he's in the Twelve Rows block (this has been proven scientifically). 2023 will be George's eighth summer in the Roanoke vineyard, but before that he was a longtime wine club member. He is not only our favorite guru, he's a wonderful friend.
Scott Sandell has designed the Roanoke Vineyards labels since the beginning. Scott leads a not-so-secret life as a visual artist, with work in major museums (Walker Art Center, The Brooklyn Museum, Nelson-Atkins Museum, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts), as well as government and corporate collections (Pfizer, U.S. State Department in Havana, U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Stony Brook Children's Hospital, The Ritz Carlton Hotel in Doha, Penn State University, Caesar's Palace, and more).
Roanoke owes much to our beloved Gabby Pisacano, who taught us how to grow Cabernet Franc, navigate life with joy, and work hard for things that are important. Gabs took meticulous care of the Twelve Rows block beginning in 2006, and through the epic 2015 vintage. You'd see him in the rows at 5 AM, sometimes in the rain, and in his last year worked the vines from his electric golf cart. His parting gift was not only a great vintage, but the confidence and skills for the next.