One of the most repeated phrases of my kid’s fifth grade teacher was “stay on task,” which for anyone of us, is critically important if you’re hoping to do good work and actually complete something. Whether you stay on task, push the envelope. or just resolve to concentrate; however you frame it, getting the job done well is important.
A serious commitment sometimes means you need to let peripheral things go.
At Roanoke we’ve been focusing on one task, and of course that is making great wine. In the process we’ve always opted to invest back in the vineyard, in new oak when we need it, and on our organic approach to our estate vineyard. The wild flowers and weeds in our rows are not scenes for highly styled wedding photographs, and although people seem to love the Gabby’s Platter, Michelin is not considering awarding our kitchen a star. We are thrilled that our members come out on the weekends, and we’re relieved most of the chairs on the patio are solid enough to keep your aunt Gladys from falling through her seat, but this isn’t our first concern.
My inbox floods daily with messages from other producers and distributors. “Bordeaux under $299!”, “A 99 point classic!”, “The true taste of Sonoma,” and the all too frequent, and woeful offer to try a vineyard’s pizza oven. These communiqués reveal everything you need to know about the sender, especially the vineyard that puts its pizza before their wine. The message from Roanoke Vineyards will always be about the wine; we’re staying on task.
This summer we’ll be bottling the 2019 long arc reds, which are our best work to date. We’ll also be blending the 2020 reds, a vintage that rivals 2019 in flavor, depth, and complexity. There’s a lot to look forward to here, and we’re very excited to share it with our members. That said, we’ve put our own pizza oven on indefinite hold, and those of you with seasonal allergies will want to stay out of the vineyard rows until October while we host essential pollinators, our growing rabbit population, and the spiders that are our truly organic pest control. Every sip you take will illustrate our focus and comittment to a single task.
The New Member's
Four Wines for Summer 2021
Every summer there's a rush to the rosé, and with good reason. Rosé is perfect for warm summer nights, and all the lunch dates we've missed over the past year. The 2020 Roanoke Vineyards Rosé draws on its Merlot base for flavor and depth (yes! depth in a rosé!). We blended the Merlot with some lovely Chardonnay that brings beautiful melon notes, and just a hint of tropical fruit. The finish is long and refreshing, and this wine will honestly pair with almost anything. You can pretend you're sipping this wine in Provence, but North Fork rosés have their own style and flavor profiles that are graceful and especially pleasing. Open this bottle up, get two glasses, then spend the evening thinking about other things.
While we're on the subject of summer, the 2020 Roanoke Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc has to be part of the conversation. This vintage is a blend of two North Fork vineyards, and shows more varietal characteristics than any of our previous Sauvignon Blancs. There's acidity for your fresh oyster cache, and this wine is glorious with an extravagant farm stand salad.
Over the early winter of 2020 we spent a lot of time thinking about eight specific barrels of Cabernet Franc from 2018. Cab Franc is the varietal that seems most influenced by weather fluctuations, and certainly 2018 gave us plenty of that. The wine had a characteristic spice that we always like in Cab Franc, but not the bell pepper most people think of when they imagine the grape. What would really make this wine sing, we thought, would be big, rich, super deep Cab Sauvignon, and a little dark Petit Verdot would be icing on the cake, which is exactly what we added. The Roanoke Vineyards Intitulada was bottled only in magnums (1500 ML), and who knew when it went into the bottle how much we'd be looking forward to having a glass with our friends right now. This is a fun red that you can drink over the summer, and it could even be served with a slight chill. The plum and black cherry you'll find here will complement your success on the grill, or the sandwiches you took to the beach.
Last but not least is the 2017 Roanoke Vineyards Site Specific Cabernet Sauvignon. There will be a summer day when it's a little cooler, and you've roasted a chicken or grilled fabulous pork chops. Open this wine then. We've instructed most of our members to put on comfortable shoes, then walked them to the far western side of the vineyard where the Cab Sauvignon grows. Here the temperature is a degree or two warmer than the rest of the vineyard, and below our prized weeds that grow under the vines is an especially sandy vein of Havens Loam. The soil on Long Island's North Fork is fabulous for potatoes, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and carrots, but Cabernet is a trick that only Roanoke seems to have mastered (read: 95 points!). Deep cherry and strawberry washes are apparent right away, there's a sense of cedar, leather, and blackberry that lingers well into the finish. It's lovely, but keep in mind this wine is still gaining, and one night this winter or next it will be a perfect companion as the snow falls and the wind howls.
Roanoke's George Fernandez checks
the cork of a library wine
Spring rows (left) in our estate vineyard. Of particular note is the clover and wild flowers of the vineyard floor. Roanoke Vineyards left the idea of conventional vineyard farming many years ago (our vineyard master, George Fernandez, calls what he does "extreme gardening"). We believe that expecting the vineyard to express itself after you've blasted it with chemical weed killers is a fool's errand. As noted above, this small parcel of land that is able to grow truly world class Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot is a gift. With this in mind, the vineyard remains our focus.
Photographs in this issue of the Roanoke Tribune are courtesy of our beloved vineyard intern, David Lynn.
Of particular note . . .
Is our new online wine shop, which, any day now, you'll be able to click on and shop for Roanoke wines from home. Members can click the log in button on our landing page, and see all the available wines.
Not a member? Not a problem, at least not right now, as we have a few spots in our roster available. Just zip an email to email@example.com for complete information.
As the vineyard slowly moves into full speed, watch this spot for news on vineyard walks, special tastings, and offerings from our archive.
It may be summer, and with any luck the pandemic is behind us, mostly, but our vineyard vine-side drive thru remains open! (Our car hops are the BEST!). This option remains the easiest way to pick up wine for dinner . . . or your cellar!
The vineyard is open 11 AM to 6 PM daily. On the weekends, you'll need a reservation to taste wine inside. Give us a call at 631.727.4161. If you're bringing more than a couple friends, you'll also need to let us know. Thanks!