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"Table for two? That'll be five years" Tangled in red tape since 2005, plans for Aquebogue bistro get the OK, Tim Gannon, RIVERHEAD NEWS-REVIEW, February 11, 2010
Photo by BarbarEllen Koch. Owner Therese Dilworth and executive chef Arie Pavlou in front of the historic house in Aquebogue that Ms. Dilworth has long planned to turn into a bistro. She just received approvals from Town Hall to move forward on the project.
'I had no idea it would take this long.' Theresa Dilworth
Five years after it was initially proposed, the 28-seat Comtesse Thérese Bistro in Aquebogue finally received site plan approval from the Riverhead Town Planning Board last Thursday, and its owners -- Theresa Dilworth and her husband, Mineo Shimura -- hope for a late spring opening.
"I had no idea it would take this long," Ms. Dilworth said. "Now we're finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel." She said they almost had given up on the proposal several times.
Ms. Dilworth is an owner of a vineyard in Aquebogue and a tasting room in Peconic, She and her husband first proposed the bistro in 2005. It will occupy a 170-year-old, two-story house on the south side of Main Road in Aquebogue, the former Jamesport Saddlery building.
Ms. Dilworth is also an international tax attorney. Mr. Shimura, who manages the vineyard, is a former steel company executive.
"It will be kind of a classic bistro, with some French influence," Ms. Dilworth said. They've hired a chef, Arie Pavlou, a graduate of the Cordon Bleu in Paris, a former co-owner of Coeur de Vignes restaurant in Southold, and an instructor at the Culinary Institute at Suffolk County Community College in Riverhead.
The wines served at the bistro will be local, Ms. Dilworth said, and so will the food.
A smaller version of the proposal won site plan approval in June but, after starting work on it in July, the couple decided they needed to enlarge the building, making a new site plan review necessary. Ms. Dilworth's expanded plan still calls for 28 seats but also a 426-foot addition for a second public bathroom and an indoor walk-in refrigerator.
The project required a special permit from the Town Board, along with approvals from the state Department of Transportation, the county health department and other agencies. Overflow parking on a neighboring property also required town approval. All those permits were granted last year and remain in effect for the larger structure.
But variances from the town Zoning Board of Appeals were necessary because the proposed extension pushed the building into required setbacks. The ZBA approval came on Jan. 25, with the Planning Board's nod for the new site plan the next week.
So how does a tax attorney become a winemaker and restaurant owner?
Ms. Dilworth said it actually started when she was in high school. "My brother got into beer-making and we would drink our own beers together," she said. That later led her to making wines.
Ms. Dilworth said she's always felt that what's missing from wine tasting rooms is food. "I've always wanted to have food and wine together," she said.
Lenndevours website, "Comtesse Therese 2005 Hungarian Oak Merlot", Lenn Thompson, January 15, 2009
I know that the oak debate, among winemakers and wine geeks, usually centers American vs. French oak, with everyone arguing passionately in favor or their preferred barrel. But, as much as I tend to prefer the more expensive French cooperage, I really enjoy what a third type of oak, Hungarian oak, brings to the table as well.
That spice, and more understated raw oak flavors are on display in Comtesse Therese 2005 Hungarian Oak Merlot ($18), an extremely approachable, enjoyable red.
The nose is playful and spicy, blending bright red berries -- cherries and raspberries -- with violets, black pepper and subtle brown spices.
The berry flavors are a bit darker on the juicy palate, with blackberry joining the party. That Hungarian oak brings layers of black pepper and spice, and also imparts hints of toasty oak and vanilla. There is plenty of fruit here to balance the oak.
The tannins are super-ripe tannins and just a little grippy. A bit more grip would be nice, but for drinking today and over the next couple of years, there's enough.
At $18, this one is well priced too.
"Market for Local Wines Overseas: Local Wineries Enjoy Small but Growing Export Business," THE SUFFOLK TIMES, John Henry, October 30, 2008
You just never know where you'll find wine from the North Fork.
It might be Copenhagen or Singapore or even Tokyo, some 14 time zones and 6,800 miles away. Those are markets where Long Island wineries have managed to gain a foothold in recent years, adding prestige -- if not much profit -- for their respective brands.
"It shows we're competing on an international playing field," says Richard Olsen-Harbich, the managing director of Raphael Vineyard in Peconic, which has sent two shipments to Japan in as many years. "Our wines are competing across the board from a quality standpoint with anything produced in the world."
Several other North Fork wineries have the same idea.
Bedell Cellars of Cutchogue and Comtesse Thérèse in Aquebogue have both exported wine to Japan in the last two years, and Peconic-based Lenz Winery hopes to line up an importer there. (Lenz has been shipping for the last five years to Singapore and for more than 20 years to Denmark, where Pellegrini Vineyards, another Cutchogue firm, started exporting about two years ago.)
While wineries may be preparing for a prolonged downturn in their business overall because of the rapidly deteriorating economic climate, Lenz's marketing director, Tom Morgan, believes exports could be "one of the bright spots" for his company. "Japan hasn't been affected too much," he says, "and Denmark is doing very well."
Echoing counterparts at other wineries, he says exports are only a small part of the business -- less than 5 percent of sales at Lenz. Moreover, though sales overseas, where customers pay the wholesale price, contribute welcome cash flow, he says retail sales in the company's tasting room in Peconic are "where the profit is."
Nonetheless, he says, Lenz is trying hard to land an account in Sweden that, coupled with the possible start of shipments to Japan, could generate enough volume for the winery's export sales to double this year. That would be "a significant amount of our total production," he says.
Also eyeing export opportunities is Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue, which would like to get its wines into the Scandinavian and Canadian markets. "I would call it more a symbolic part of our business rather than a strategic part," concedes the company's president, Charles Massoud. "It's nice to be able to brag about."
The small but apparently growing volume of exports has its ironies. "Sometimes, things don't go in the order that you want," says Mr. Olsen-Harbich of Raphael Vineyard, noting that while his company has a distributor in Japan, it still lacks one in Connecticut.
For its presence in Japan, Raphael can thank Andrew Balmuth, who visited the Peconic vineyard a few years back and liked what he tasted. A former New Yorker now living in Tokyo, Mr. Balmuth runs an importing business specializing in food and beverages from New York State. "I thought that Japanese people love New York," he says, "so they would be naturally interested to discover new and exciting" products like New York wines.
He says many "New World" wines overpower Japanese food, whereas New York chardonnays, Rieslings and merlots aren't too sweet, are lower in alcohol and are medium bodied in the red wine category, making them an "elegant match" for the local cuisine.
In the last two years Mr. Balmuth has taken delivery of two containers' worth (more than 1,100 cases) of New York wine produced by Raphael, Comtesse Therese, Wolffer Estate Vineyards on the South Fork and an upstate vintner. "It's been a very, very successful relationship for us," says Mr. Olsen-Harbich.
While the weak dollar has helped lift U.S. exports of manufactured goods this year, New York wines are still extremely expensive in Japan because of high shipping costs and that country's multi-layered distribution system, according to Theresa Dilworth, one of Comtesse Thérèse's owners. "A bottle that would be $20 here would be $60 there," she says. "It's really out of the reach of the average person."
In Denmark, wines from Lenz, Pellegrini and Wolffer are imported by a businessman/chef named Per Brun, who operates 21 shops and restaurants throughout the country and runs annually in the New York City Marathon. Through annual visits to Long Island that he makes after the marathon, he became acquainted with East End wineries -- and impressed. So, too, he says, are his patrons.
"Customers are surprised about the wines and their quality," he says. "They all think" Long Island is too far north to make wine, "and I surprise them by telling them we are dealing with temperatures like Rome and Bordeaux and that we are talking of a wine production history of only 20 to 40 years."
One market local wineries would love to crack is Canada, whose close proximity makes it a particularly attractive for export since shipments can be trucked there. But dealing with provincial government alcohol boards, which sell the wine themselves, can be so daunting as to discourage efforts to tap the market. Just ask Herodotus "Dan" Damianos, owner of Pindar Vineyards in Peconic.
When Pindar exported to Canada, he says, its experience with provincial boards was "awful, awful." The company was paid only as the wine was sold, and it wasn't promoted. One time, Pindar received two unsold cases c.o.d. from a provincial board, and the winery had to pay several hundred dollars to get its merchandise back.
"I'll never go back there," vows Dr. Damianos.
© TIMES REVIEW NEWSPAPERS 2008
The New Napa Valley (in Long Island!), THE NEW YORK POST, Page Six Magazine, November 30, 2008
"My blood pressure drops as soon as the Jitney gets to the other side of Riverhead," says Juliette Pope, the beverage director at the Gramercy Tavern—and an avid fan of the East End of Long Island. "There is an unspoiled quality to the landscape there—quaint towns, farm stands and pick-your-own fields along the way."
In the past three years, Juliette's lost some of her closest friends from the Big Apple to the burgeoning wine and food scene on Long Island (53 vineyards and counting). Take star pastry chef Claudia Fleming, who moved to Southold with her husband, Gerry Haden, in 2005 to open The North Fork Table & Inn, a restaurant and four-room hotel.
Claudia, an ex-Gramercy Tavern dessert-maker, admits she misses the high energy of Manhattan, but it doesn't compare with living just miles from the produce that inspires her dishes. "Being surrounded by the raw product and having a relationship with winemakers, farmers and fishermen is a chef's dream," Claudia explains. "And we're realizing it. I found a berry grower in [nearby] Orient. The raspberries are beyond any others I have ever tasted. Now, I use the red, white and pink raspberries in a meringue sandwich with raspberry sorbet."
Barbara Shinn of Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck agrees. "There is nowhere else in the U.S. that has fish, shellfish, produce and wine within such a small area like here in Long Island wine country," she says.
Now a growing number of tourists are falling for the allure of Long Island wine country—even in winter. Just 90 miles east of Gotham, a quick two-hour drive will get you to the North Fork. Once there, driving from one end to the other takes just 30 minutes and a ferry can shuttle you to the South Fork, meaning you can easily cover more than 4,000 acres of vineyards, interspersed with farmlands and beaches, spread across Long Island Sound and Peconic Bay. No wonder celebrity chef Rachael Ray is a regular—she's often seen at favorite wineries Paumanok near Riverhead and Lenz in Peconic. Senator Hillary Clinton spoke at the Long Island Farm Bureau dance fundraiser at Martha Clara Vineyards this July. And the annual Jazz on the Vine festival—six weekends of more than 60 free jazz performances at wineries and restaurants that takes place February 14 to March 22 next year—doubles the number of visits to wineries by boldfacers and regular folk alike.
Vintner Roman Roth was one of the pioneers of the Long Island wine wave—the Germany native has been in charge of Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack on the South Fork, one of the area's established wineries, for 20 years. High-profile fans such as hotelier André Balazs and Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander have recently commissioned the winemaker to create private bottlings for them. For Roman, the recent changes have been "dramatic. The wineries are producing much higher-quality wines; the vineyards are more balanced, and, like the winemakers, they are older, which has pushed the bar higher."
As established wineries like Wölffer, Lenz, Bedell and Pellegrini make the most of their growing popularity, new boutique vineyards are popping up around them. Half a dozen newcomers, including Bouké, Sparkling Pointe and Diliberto, have popped up on the scene in the last two years, and each has a unique story to tell. Vintner Tom Rosicki wound up on the North Fork thanks to a girl. "I met Cynthia Senko at a debutante ball at the Waldorf-Astoria 21 years ago," explains Tom, co-owner of Sparkling Pointe, in Southold. "She was the 'uptown' girl, and me being the 'downtown' guy, I asked the waiter for a bottle of cheap white wine. After that night, I could see that I would have to do better. On our first date, I ordered my very first bottle of champagne. She agreed to marry me nine weeks later." Six years ago, he and Cynthia bought a sparkling-focused vineyard (the couple also owns a law firm together). This summer they released the first bottles from the winery (the only "bubbly" one on Long Island) and in October the pair signed a contract with the Waldorf, which will soon serve Sparkling Pointe wines at its restaurant Peacock Alley.
Experts say now is the perfect time to visit, even though it's chilly. "December, January and February are cold, but can be brilliantly sunny and exhilarating," says Louisa Thomas Hargrave, a 35-year resident of the area and the director of the Stony Brook University Center for Wine, Food and Culture. An added bonus is that the restaurants and shops are quieter once the Hamptons' summer crowds leave. "And if there is a particular winery you want to visit, call ahead. That way, you will usually get extra attention," Louisa advises. All we can say is, cheers to that.
A Winter Wine Weekend HOW TO EAT, DRINK, SHOP AND RELAX OVER TWO DAYS IN LONG ISLAND WINE COUNTRY.
Head west to Cutchogue for the state-of-the-art winemaking facilities at Bedell Cellars—owned by former New Line Cinema co-CEO Michael Lynne—for a wine tasting and gallery visit. While there, try top-of-the-line red wine Musée (its label is designed by artist Chuck Close) in the renovated 19o0s potato barn, while taking in contemporary works on display by renowned photographers Cindy Sherman and Uta Barth.
Spend half a day at South Fork wineries Wölffer Estate Vineyard and Channing Daughters.
Christopher Tracey, partner at Channing Daughters, is producing wines served at popular restaurants like Le Bernardin in Manhattan. Wölffer in Sagaponack is often host to celebrity bashes attended by Anthony Hopkins, Alec Baldwin and Elle Macpherson, and the James Beard Foundation hosts its annual Chefs & Champagne fundraiser here every summer. This year's guest-of-honor, Wolfgang Puck, attracted a big crowd, including Sex and the City star Kim Cattrall, photographer Bruce Weber and Le Cirque owner Sirio Maccioni. And if you need a break from wine tasting, you can always schedule a private horseback riding lesson ($135 for a one-hour class; 631-537-2879).
Choose five to six wineries to visit over two days. Don't miss new kid on the block Croteaux Vineyards in Southold, near the ocean, where there are three different styles of rosé to taste—from dry to fruity to full-bodied. "I could not make any other wine," confesses co-owner Michael Croteaux. "We live on the beach; I windsurf—it's great. The North Fork is a wine region that has an affluent, vibrant vacation population, and it's one of the only beachfront wine regions in the country."
Greenport, a seaport village near the eastern tip of the North Fork, is the hub of the area now being touted as the new Napa Valley. Start your visit here. Stop by the shops that line Main Street, including the nautical-themed Preston's (No. 102; 1-800-836-1165) and, a few doors down, hip design shop Verbena (No. 123; 631-477-4080).
To taste some of the up-and-coming boutique wines in one stop, drop in to the Tasting Room in Peconic. A must-try is Schneider Vineyards' cabernet franc, made from the red Bordeaux grapes that wine critics have declared best-suited for Long Island.
© THE NEW YORK POST 2008
Reviews from www.nywines.com
Vintner: Comtesse Thérèse
Wine: Russian Oak Chardonnay
Region: North Fork
Medium golden with a hint of green hue in the glass. Bouquet is rich with lemon, vanilla, butterscotch, shows tropical notes of nutmeg, eucalyptus, and mango. Baked apples, cantaloupe, and ripe pears open developing lemon chiffon, Creme Brulee and cinnamon on the mid pallet. Texture is creamy but not overly so. Flavors are fruit forward, round, full, and opulent. Pepper and spice jump up on the finish with an undertone of light acid to keep the wine open and provide counterpoint to fruit themes. Fascinating and beautifully crafted wine. Unusual oak aging provides interest and complexity over a classical Burgundy style Chardonnay. Fruit is balanced nicely by the work in the cellar. Good as an aperitif or pair with sharp cheeses, mollusks, or grilled fish. Excellent value.
Vintner: Comtesse Thérèse
Wine: Hungarian Oak Merlot
Region: North Fork
Wonderful nose, cherries, blackberries, sassafras, and peppers. Cherries and stone fruit forward balanced with pepper and spices from the oak. The Hungarian oak imparts a different experience from French or American varieties. Medium tart finish contrasts with the fruit. A well structured wine. It is apparent that a lot of thought went into the building of this wine.
© www.winesny.com 2008
"Meet the Owner: Theresa Dilworth of Comtesse Thérèse", WINE PRESS, Julie Lane, Summer 2008
That Theresa Dilworth is a high-powered corporate tax attorney, owner of Comtesse Thérèse vineyard, operator of the The Tasting Room in Peconic and planning to open a restaurant in Aquebogue might lead you to assume she’s a driven woman. You’d be wrong
The woman whose father once suggested to her that she was a dilettante prone to flit from one new interest to another instead has channeled her significant energy and talent toward a combination of related interests.
“It’s not just jumping in all at once; it’s an evolution,” she says, admitting she has no doubt that had she not merged her interests in business, good food and good wine, she might indeed have ended up a dilettante. Instead, she started small, kept her focus and succeeded in building her business while attending to the demands of her day job as an international tax attorney for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc.
“I always wanted to be an artist, but I’m too practical,” Ms. Dilworth says. Does she yearn to retire from her day job and spend all her time on the North Fork? No.
“That’s my full-time job and that is my first priority,” she says. She loves the international aspect of her work, loves being the “architect” of a project and seeing it through to fruition. But she’s still drawn to the vineyard that gives balance to her life.
As a 4-year-old, she began working side-by-side with her dad on their land in the Huntington-Lloyd Harbor area, where they planted large gardens. She considers her vineyard a natural extension of that childhood interest, but admits her friends at work “look at me like I’m crazy” when she tells them about it. They’re so proud of planting shadow boxes for their apartment windows, she says; they can’t understand planting and caring for acres of vines.
Some tease her about being a “Martha Stewart” clone, a suggestion she rejects.
“I have been like me since I was four, and I’m not a perfectionist,” she says. “There is room for error,” and that’s something she thinks Ms. Stewart wouldn’t allow. “You have to know every detail and plan every detail [but] you can’t control 100 percent of what’s going on,” she says. “In the beginning you think you can’t do it, but you can.”
Seven years ago, backed by two friends from Japan, the one-time home winemaker bought 40 acres of land in Aquebogue and planted a single acre of pinot noir. Her partners, who together own 25 percent of the operation, provided encouragement and money, but trusted Ms. Dilworth to develop and run the operation. “I feel very accountable to them,” Ms. Dilworth says. “But they know it’s for the long term and they have complete trust in me,” she says.
“I was very naive,” she says of her start in the business, but she gradually acquired the equipment and skills needed to work her land. If a tractor once seemed intimidating, today she rides one with ease, working the vineyard with her husband, Sammy Shimura, and her parents.
What started as a small planting on the northwest corner of her land was moved to the southwest the next year, and later to the southeast after extensive soil testing. Eventually, she sold 25 acres unsuitable for grapes to a neighbor and bought 26 plantable acres next to her original plot.
“I learned; I made mistakes; it’s a lot of work,” she says. “It’s a very, very slow process.” With 10 acres beginning to provide grapes for her cabernet sauvignon and merlot, she’s buying less fruit from other vineyards than she used to.
Her vines are more closely spaced than some others in the region, and she is the only local winemaker using Hungarian oak barrels rather than French or American. She also plans to begin using some Canadian oak barrels. “I don’t like doing what everyone else is doing; I don’t mind not following the crowd,” Ms. Dilworth says.
She describes Premium Wine Group, the Mattituck custom-crush facility where she makes her wines, as “like manna from heaven.” Instead of having to invest in expensive equipment, “all I have to do is bring my grapes over there,” she says. “It’s such a relief not to have to make an investment in capital equipment.” At Premium, she feels can count on high standards of sanitation and quality control.
Comtesse Thérèse started out producing 500-800 cases a year, a quantity she calls “peanuts in this industry.” In 2007, she was up to 1,100 cases, and was using some of her own grapes by 2005. She hopes to become totally independent of other vineyards, which will increase her profit.
Ms. Dilworth is still assessing the strengths and weaknesses of her grapes. “You work with what you have,” but you can make certain corrections as you get to know your own grapes, she says.
Given that most of her week is spent in New York City, a lot of the day-to-day tending of the vines falls to her parents and husband, who was a steel company executive who left that field when his company was sold. If he was indifferent at first, Mr. Shimura has now become as passionate about the vineyard as his wife is, she says.
Ms. Dilworth says the restaurant idea was an extension of her love for fine food and wine. She bought a run-down house on Main Road in Aquebogue in 2004 and has gradually restored it. “I like carpentry,” she says simply.
Tapping her legal skills, she has obtained approvals for zoning and site plan and dealt with health department regulations. Now she’s making her way through a particular licensing process that, by licensing the premises as a winery, will allow her to operate a restaurant, she says. She plans to install a small winery in a basement room that can be locked, as required by law, and there will even be a “miniature” vineyard. She hopes to open by next winter.
“I love food and I love cooking, and I want to have a place that I would want to go to,” she says. “Can I make it work? I think I can, but it’s kind of scary,” she admits.
© TIMES REVIEW NEWSPAPERS 2008
"LI wineries say harvest is best in years", NEWSDAY, Mark Harrington, October 15, 2007
David Page of Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck said he has never seen anything like it on Long Island.
Early blending wine from malbec grapes, he said, tastes of "blueberries slow-roasted in a wood-burning oven," cabernet sauvignon has alcohol levels exceeding 14 percent, and local chardonnay is displaying a "beautiful tropical character" with hints of papaya, melon and "pretty banana."
"It's completely across the board," Page said of the quality of this year's wines, still in the making. "We look at each other in total amazement, no matter what it is we're tasting." Page and Barbara Shinn, restaurant owners for two decades, have spent a decade growing grapes and making wine here.
Perfect weather for grapes -- and lots of it -- has produced the best crop the Long Island wine region has seen in years -- perhaps ever, vintners say. Sugar and corresponding alcohol are at levels seen in much warmer grape-growing regions, and minimal rain appears to have concentrated flavors. The only complaint some have registered is that acid levels are slightly lower than normal, a factor easily adjusted in the finishing process.
Meanwhile, this year's harvest marks one of the first times the stars came into alignment with high-quality grapes in unprecedented quantities. Page said Shinn vines produced 3.2 tons per acre, whereas 2.5 tons is typical. Others have seen similar or higher yields.
Even in bad years producers for the region's wines tend toward colorful effusiveness when describing the quality of their grapes and the resulting wines. But rarely is the praise so broad, covering everything from the whites, which were picked in early autumn, to the recently harvested reds. Riesling grapes at one vineyard are so plentiful that they will make it possible to produce three different iterations of the popular wine.
"In my memory, without question, it's one of the best years we've had, and the quality with the quantity is an unprecedented combination," said Kareem Massoud, winemaker at Paumanok Vineyards in Riverhead. "It is really a grape grower and winemaker's dream."
The eight different grape varietals that Paumanok grows -- four white and four red -- came in equally as strong, Massoud said, something he's never experienced in nine years of winemaking. "Every varietal is as close to perfect as I've seen it."
In prior years temperate growing seasons were disrupted by drought, floods or the early onset of cool weather. But not this year.
And the relatively warm start to the fall reduced the impact of birds. Page of Shinn Estate said the usual migration of starlings didn't start in earnest until he had nearly all of his grapes picked. More recently, he's seen them swarming farms and vineyards in packs he estimates at 20,000. Because of the early harvest, he has for the first time in years been able to watch the leaves turn color on the vine with the comfort of knowing all his wine is in fermenting tanks before moving on to barrels.
Theresa Dilworth, owner of the Comtesse Thérèse vineyard in Aquebogue, said the merlot grapes she harvested several weeks ago were unprecedented, indeed almost too much of a good thing.
"They were giant clusters, big and juicy," she said, "double or triple the size of normal clusters."
Partly for that reason, she found she had double the expected capacity when it came time to make wine at a local cooperative: eight tons instead of the anticipated four. She also had so many cabernet sauvignon grapes -- 10 tons -- that she decided to sell three tons wholesale rather than make them into wine for her own label.
Paola Valverde, winemaker at Macari Vineyards in Mattituck, said the near-perfect growing conditions kept the grapes drier and less prone to disease, so less fruit had to be culled from the harvest. As a result, Macari had to bring in extra tanks to handle the extra tonnage. "The climate was good for everything," she said, noting that both white and red grapes benefited.
Palmer Vineyards in Riverhead reported this year's fruits were "clean, ripe and flavorful." While most of the Palmer harvest was finished about two weeks early because of the prime conditions, weather also allowed the winery to maintain six rows of gewürztraminer grapes on the vine longer than normal to maximize the taste of the late-harvest dessert wine.
At Osprey's Dominion Vineyards in Peconic, owner Bud Koehler said his crews had finished harvesting about two weeks ago, and he attributed the quality of the crop to a "wonderful fall." Seasonal weather, he said, allowed vineyards to hang fruit long enough without concern for weather or fungal damage, so levels of sugar, acid and pH were just right. He predicted the 2007 merlots and cabernet sauvignons will be among the marquis wines of the vintage.
Richard Pisacano, owner of Roanoke Vineyards in Riverhead, said some vineyard owners have been so encouraged by the weather that a fair amount of red grapes remained hanging on the vine early this month, working toward a peak of flavor. He estimated that, as of last week, around 60 tons had yet to be harvested. He's also a vineyard manager at Wolffer Estates in Sagaponack, which recently finished harvesting. "There's no harm in letting it hang. It [the taste] can get more intense."
Pisacano emphasized that this year's wines were still in the making and that the true measure of its quality will come "when it settles down" after fermentation, in December.
In all, Pisacano said, the conditions will allow 2007 to go down as the year of "big, concentrated wines." Dilworth of Comtesse Thérèse described them as "voluptuous."
The only problem for aficionados of local wines is that the reds from this year's vintage won't be available until 2009 at the earliest. (Some whites, like an early chardonnay from Macari, are already available, but most won't be ready until next year). Vintners advise us to keep our eyes on the merlots and cabernet sauvignons.
"You're definitely going to see a lot of great wines here on Long Island," Pisacano said.
© 2007, Newsday Inc.
LENNDEVOURS Q&A: "Theresa Dilworth, Co-owner and winemaker, Comtesse Therese," www. Lenndevours.com, May 24, 2007
For today's edition of LENNDEVOURS Q&A, we sit down with Theresa Dilworth of Comtesse Therese.
What (and where) was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking?
I do not remember the first bottle of wine that I ever drank. I do remember though, when I was in law school in NYC, becoming very interested in the Sherry-Lehman wine shop on Madison Avenue, and especially the Sherry-Lehman wine catalog. I used to read every issue from cover to cover, studying all the descriptions of wines, the prices, the scores, trying to figure out which ones might be good. The wines I bought at that time were almost exclusively red wines from Bordeaux, not super-expensive ones, but ones that I thought were a good value for the price. Not First Growths, but maybe 3rd, 4th or 5th growths that seemed to have a good price-quality ratio.
What event/bottle/etc made you decide that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
It was Memorial Day weekend, years ago, and I was driving back from upstate NY with one of my Japanese friends who ultimately became one of my business partners in the Comtesse Therese vineyard. At the time, I was doing home winemaking out of kits and I loved gardening, and I had been talking about how nice it would be to have a small vineyard, about an acre, just to do home winemaking with. And Chizuko, my friend, who had some experience with home winemaking herself, said she had always wanted to be the owner or part owner of a vineyard, so she suggested that we go into a partnership together to invest in a vineyard. The thought of doing it alone was too daunting, from a financial, emotional, and psychological perspective, but with partners it was less daunting, and so we decided to go ahead and buy some land and start the vineyard.
Which of your current wines is your favorite and why?
The 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon. It has now bottle aged to the point where it is drinking very well. It really is interesting to see how the wines age and improve over a couple of years.
What has surprised you most about being a winery owner on Long Island?
The amount of money and time that it takes. The amount of government agencies I have to deal with. The high degree of risk, and the low rewards.
Other than your own wines, what wine/beer/liquor most often fills your glass?
My husband is the one that buys the wines, so whatever he happens to have around the house. He is certified as a sommelier and likes to try wines from a lot of different regions, for his education. I am not that particular about what I drink, as long as it is dry and red. I do like a dry white wine once in a while though, like a Bordeaux Blanc.
Is there a 'classic' wine or wine and food pairing that you just can't make yourself enjoy?
I am not crazy about foie gras with Sauternes. Maybe it’s because I don’t like sweet wines. Since it is meat, I would rather have foie gras with a red wine.
Wine enjoyment is about more than just the wine itself.
Describe the combination of wine, locations, food, company, etc. that would make (or has made) for the ultimate wine-drinking experience.
I think I have had the most fun when traveling in Europe with my husband, and we just go into the local supermarkets and get cheap, and I mean cheap, local wine to drink with some local food. We get some local cheeses and breads or sausages or whatever and then bring it back to our B&B for lunch, or even an early dinner. When we were in Beaujolais, we got cheap but really good Beaujolais for 1.50 Euros in the supermarket, we got some good wines in Portugal for a couple of Euros, we did the same thing in Tuscany, etc. It is amazing how good the wines were for less than 5.00 Euros. In the Loire Valley, we had some great cabernet francs for less than $10. In Normandy, I loved the butter too, the local supermarkets had about 20 varieties of local butter, and we would put it on the bread and eat it just about every day in the car as we were touring around.
“Building on a Banner Year”, WINE PRESS, Jane Starwood, April 12, 2007
Theresa Dilworth, co-owner of Comtesse Therese, is excited about taking over operations at The Tasting Room in Peconic last summer. "Being responsible for operating The Tasting Room on behalf of my own small winery and four other small wineries has been a lot of work, but has also been fulfilling and interesting." While it's a big step for her, Ms. Dilworth said, "It's good to have a permanent space, open year round, for the public to visit." She plans to keep building on the success of The Tasting Room while she applies to Riverhead Town to turn the barn at her vineyard in Aquebogue into a seasonal, on-site tasting room. "Being outside in the vineyard will give visitors a different experience from the Tasting Room experience." If all goes smoothly, her vineyard tasting room could open as early as this coming fall. And as if all that weren't enough, Ms. Dilworth is working toward renovating a building on Main Road in Aquebogue and opening a small bistro pairing local wine with local foods.
© TIMES-REVIEW NEWSPAPERS 2006
AppellationAmerica.com Wine Recommendations, Lenn Thompson, March 12, 2007
Comtesse Thérèse 2004 Chateau Reserve Merlot
(North Fork of Long Island)
Unfortunately, I find myself defending Long Island wine prices way more than I should have to. I hear it all the time – "Where are the values? There's nothing under $10 worth drinking."
I can't argue the $10 point. People who want to pay $7 for a bottle of red wine, maybe even with a fun little zoo creature on the label, should absolutely look elsewhere. Long Island can't compete with those mass-produced, soulless wines. Of course, who wants to drink those wines all of the time anyway?
There are, however, plenty of over-priced wines being made on Long Island. But I hate generalizations and if you know the wines, there are also some great deals – including some that cost $30-50 a bottle. Remember that value is possible at any price point, not just wines under $10.
Theresa Dilworth, co-owner of and head winemaker for Comtesse Therese, is refreshing because she could sell at least a few of her wines for much more than she charges today. Let's hope she keeps it that way.
The 2004 Chateau Reserve, is far and away the best of the current Comtesse Therese Merlot releases – and definitely shows off Long Island's unique terroir. The nose offers fruity blackberry and blueberry aromas accented by subtle earthiness, light vanilla and just a little oak. Nicely balanced, it shows fruit-forward flavors of cherries, blackberries and blueberries with ripe, well-integrated tannins and an elegant, lengthy finish. It's a deal at $30 and should age beautifully for 5-7 years. This wine hasn't been made since the much ballyhooed 2001 vintage, and there are fewer than 100 cases available.
Comtesse Thérèse 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon - Cabernet Franc
(North Fork of Long Island)
Some of the wines that display Long Island's true nature – terroir if you will – are actually red blends, not the varietal Merlots that are often lauded as the region's best. Of course there are also the "Meritage" wines that seem more like a way to use up extra lots of lesser reds than anything else.
Theresa Dilworth, co-owner of and head winemaker for Comtesse Therese is making the former with this blandly named but far-from-bland blend named for its component grapes and their percentages: 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Cabernet Franc.
This is a soft, slightly juicy blend that dodges the over-oaking that burdens some local blends and many wines from the slightly cool 2004 vintage. Very Cabernet Sauvignon aromas and flavors – blackberry, and black currant – are accented by subtle cinnamon, chocolate, smoke and violet notes. The tannins are soft and the noticeable acidity makes this a terrific food wine. This is the kind of wine I like this time of year. It's still a red wine, but it's not heavy or brooding. It reminds of me the transition between winter and spring.
© www.AppellationAmerica.com 2007
"A Boutique on the North Fork," THE NEW YORK TIMES, Howard G. Goldberg, February 11, 2007
There is no countess behind Comtesse Thérèse wines; the principal owner of the brand is Theresa K. Dilworth, a New York tax lawyer and avowed francophile.
Four newly released reds from Comtesse Thérèse use grapes supplied from other North Fork vineyards, because Ms. Dilworth did not begin making wine from her own vines until 2005.
The four wines need decanting and time to develop further in the bottle. They are good accompaniments for beef.
Ms. Dilworth’s simple 2004 Hungarian Oak Merlot ($18), which loosens up with at least two hours’ aeration, is spicy, a bit tarry, slightly woody and, as Ms. Dilworth puts it, rustic.
Named for the proportions of its grapes, her 70% Cabernet Sauvignon 30% Cabernet Franc, a light 2004 bottle ($20), offers an inviting cabernet sauvignon aroma and a smoky body.
The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve ($25) is robustly gamy, smoky, somewhat minty and redolent of macerated dark berries.
The standout is the 2004 Château Reserve Merlot ($30). Soft, plush, round, meaty and spicy, it is a pretty wine.
Ms. Dilworth also offers a sprightly off-dry aperitif rosé, 2005 Blanc de Noir ($18), made from cabernet sauvignon and merlot.
Her collection was produced at the Premium Wine Group, a for-hire winery in Mattituck. Bernard Cannac, head wine maker at Duck Walk Vineyards, in Water Mill, is her consultant.
Ms. Dilworth’s boutique operation, which began with 550 cases in 2001, made about 1,100 cases last year.
Her vineyard, Le Clos Thérèse in Aquebogue, is not open to the public. It is managed by her husband, Sammy Shimura, a retired steel executive.
Her wines are sold at the Tasting Room, 2885 Peconic Lane, in Peconic, which Ms. Dilworth acquired last July. She hopes to open a bistro in the former Jamesport Saddlery building in Aquebogue late this year.
© THE NEW YORK TIMES 2007
“Rain Dampens Vintage”, THE SUFFOLK TIMES, Eileen Duffy, October 4, 2006
Vintage 2006 is Going to be a Tough One for Long Island: Birds and Deer also Challenge Growers
Erratic rain and immense pressure from warm-blooded pests has limited yields and caused vineyard workers to labor overtime to keep on top of swelling and splitting fruit as well as diligently spraying to combat mildew.
By now many vineyards have already harvested white grapes, while some farther west were holding out longer.
"It's one of those years that shows how important vineyard managers are," said Greg Gove, winemaker at Peconic Bay Winery.
Mr. Gove said vineyard manager Charlie Hargrave has been spraying after each rain to prevent mildew. Mr. Hargrave has also been sending out his vineyard crew to cull bunches where the fruit has been compromised.
This has been especially true for their riesling, which has thin skin and tight clusters -- after rain the skins on the grapes in the center of the bunch can break, attracting insects and inviting rot.
"It's going to be an expensive vintage," said Mr. Gove.
In Riverhead, Theresa Dilworth of Comtesse Thérèse only has merlot and cabernet sauvignon to harvest and is not planning to start picking for another two weeks.
She did get a break from the birds this year, which she and her husband attribute to the presence of two hawks nesting in the trees bordering the vineyard on Union Avenue.
"In previous years we had tremendous bird pressure, flocks and flocks" she said. "We were double netting. This year, silence."
She was unable to buy chardonnay from another grower, she said, because of birds.
Birds, deer and raccoons are a big problem, said Alice Wise, viticulture researcher for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County in Riverhead. She said, via e-mail, she lost at least 25% of the crop in the extension's experimental vineyard, maybe more.
"We have to invest in a more substantial deer fence and more substantial bird netting. It has been very demoralizing to bring a crop through a challenging season and lose it like this in the end," she said, adding the problem was area-wide. "It is difficult for these small businesses ... because all these protective measures add a lot to the cost of raising a crop. But many have no choice. Growers of other commodities are facing the same issues."
In Southold Ray Blum was already harvesting merlot this week and has all the chardonnay in. He, too, said the rain throughout the season has been challenging and that in isolated lower areas of the 100 acres of vineyards he manages he did lose some fruit to rot.
He does net his vines, he said, and is satisfied by the way they held off the birds.
Contacted in the middle of his vineyard on Wednesday, Ron Goerler Jr. of Jamesport Vineyards was dealing with a broken rocking arm on his picking machine. He said he had problems with birds and was adhering to a strict spray schedule, but still expected an above normal vintage.
"You have to know your field and your fruit and know how much it can handle," he said.
Commenting on the number of gondolas filled with grapes driving on the North Road and the number of fields lined with the yellow plastic picking boxes he said, "Everybody's busy with the sunshine trying to make hay. Or wine."
© TIMES-REVIEW NEWSPAPERS 2006
“A Tale of Two Tasting Rooms”, WINE PRESS, October 4, 2006
Sherwood House Vineyards
The tiniest tasting room on the North Fork opened a year ago, amid the vines at Sherwood House Vineyards on Elijah's Lane in Mattituck. Like many great inventions, it was born of necessity. When The Tasting Room in Peconic closed last year, Sherwood House owners Barbara and Charles Smithen (pictured below) needed a new place to sell their award-winning wines. (The Tasting Room has subsequently reopened; see story opposite.) The Smithens went to North Fork Wood Design and purchased a miniature barn-like building.
"The response has been just great," Ms. Smithen reports. "People found us, and they love the setting. I'm here so much, it's like my outdoor living room. What could be better?" If the younger set gets a little rowdy, Ms. Smithen tells them, "You're in my living room," and they get the idea.
It's a casual setting, with umbrella-shaded tables and blankets to borrow for al fresco wine-tasting and picnic lunches. The ambience is so homey and relaxed that visitors sometimes pour wine when things get busy. The tasting cottage has air conditioning for folks who get uncomfortable on the hottest days and space heaters for cooler weather. The tasting cottage will be open until Dec. 1 and reopen next season on April 22.
The Tasting Room
On Peconic Lane in the tiny hamlet of Peconic stands a quaint store built in the 1860s. With its tin ceilings and walls and wide-board floor it makes the perfect backdrop for artisanal wines from some of the North Fork's smaller producers. The Tasting Room was originally opened by Robin and Karen Meredith of the former Broadfields Wine Cellars. When they sold their vineyard to Leucadia National Corp. a year ago, The Tasting Room was part of the deal, but then Leucadia decided not to keep it going. That's when Theresa Dilworth of Comtesse Th & eacute;r & egrave;se (pictured right and below) stepped in. Believing smaller producers like herself need somewhere to sell their wares, she bought the business and reopened it on July 1.
Five vineyards are currently represented: Comtesse Therese, Schneider Vineyards, Sherwood House Vineyards, Ternhaven Cellars and Diliberto Winery. Tasting flights feature changing selections of these limited-production wines poured by a friendly and knowledgeable staff.
Contiguous with The Tasting Room is a new shop, Peconic Wine Hardware, owned by Peconic resident Steve Distante, that features wine-related items. In a joint venture, the two shops plan to offer limited-production Long Island wines that sell for under $15. In addition to East End wines, they'll feature Banfi Vintner's Old Brookville Chardonnay. Banfi, located in Old Brookville, is Nassau County's only officially designated vineyard. The Banfi family also owns Castello Banfi, a 7,500-acre vineyard estate in the Tuscany region of Italy that produces wines acclaimed around the world.
The Tasting Room is open on weekends. Peconic Wine Hardware is also open during the week and will sell wines from The Tasting Room along with its own selection.
© TIMES-REVIEW NEWSPAPERS 2006
“Our Region’s Identity Problem,” THE SUFFOLK TIMES, The Oeno File, Louisa Hargrave, August 23, 2006
Most wines today are rated by various wine critics on a 100-point scale. As was true with your old algebra exam, 79 is barely acceptable; 85 means everything is in order, but there's no special achievement. When you break 90, it changes everything. Suddenly you (or the wines) have promise, and great rewards come your way.
I've written before about how hard it has been for our local wines to break the "90" barrier in the leading wine journals -- until this year, that is, when a large number of L.I. wines scored over 90 points in the most influential review, the Wine Advocate. On the heels of this triumph, master of wine Mary Ewing-Mulligan and her co-author husband, Ed McCarthy, came to Riverhead recently to talk to a group of about 50 industry members about a more effective way of describing wines without scoring them. As Mulligan pointed out, she doesn't say to her husband, "Honey, go to the cellar and get me a wine with an 89."
The scoring may be useful in selling wine, but it does nothing to help consumers sort out what kinds of wine they like, or to convey their preferences. Mulligan and McCarthy have written a book, "Wine Styles," to codify red and white wines by style.
The book is great -- and so is their approach. But it was a bit odd having a couple of critics (as well as sommelier/ merchant Jean-Luc le Duc; and restaurateur Colin Alevras) come out from New York City to tell our vintners how to think about wine. The discussion was theoretical until Theresa Dilworth, owner of Comtesse Thérèse, asked the visitors point blank how they would categorize Long Island wines. The speakers were embarrassed by their ignorance of our wines, and admitted that they know more about regions 3,000 miles away than about ours, which is 80 miles from town. To their credit, they vowed to spend a week here every year from now on. But they did say that the wineries upstate are doing a better job representing themselves than we are.
Let's just think about that for a minute. The state agencies that study grapes (Cornell and the Geneva Experimental Station) are located upstate. The New York Wine and Grape Foundation is upstate. The state just spent more than $3 million on a wine center in the Finger Lakes. And, once again, for the umpty-umpth time, a Riesling from upstate has won the Governor's Cup, the top award in the yearly New York Wine competition (which has yet to have a judge from Long Island).
On the other hand, Long Island's wine industry generates the most employment and the most dollars of any wine region in the state. By far the most acres planted in vitis vinifera are here. Something is askew. I'm only pointing it out.
Maybe things will change for the better when Stony Brook University implements its new curriculum, based on sustainability, on the former Southampton College campus. As director of the university's Center for Wine, Food and Culture, I hope to get the State Legislature to focus some attention here, and to share the wealth a little more.
As part of this effort, and as the first major event on the Southampton campus, the Center (a not-for-profit entity of the university) has planned a symposium for the weekend of Sept. 16-17 called "Sustaining the Good Life." Over 200 East End residents and weekend visitors are expected to attend the event, which will highlight Stony Brook's planned curriculum focusing on sustainability: meeting the needs of the future without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
The event runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16, and from 1- 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17. The Saturday morning program features excursions aboard the Marine Science Center's research vessels and hands-on discovery activities with Stony Brook marine scientists. Following a picnic lunch and welcome from university president Dr. Shirley Strum Kenny, a keynote address by author and environmentalist Peter Matthiessen, entitled "Greed and Heritage," will be followed by a series of three panel discussions by farmers, fishermen, chefs, designers and policy experts from around the region.
Saturday's activities will conclude with a festive harvest reception and tasting of local wines and foods, accompanied by live music. On Sunday afternoon, selected artisanal producers, farms and wineries on both the North and South forks will participate in an exclusive tour, with special tastings just for symposium participants.
To register for these events, or for more information, visit the Center's website at www.stonybrook.edu/sb/winecenter.
© TIMES-REVIEW NEWSPAPERS 2006
"Rolling Acres of Growing Pains," NEWSDAY, Mark Harrington, August 7, 2006
With higher land values and Napa-like shops and eateries, locals see good and bad in slow but steady growth
Charles Massoud takes a seat on the back porch overlooking the sprawling Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue, but he may as well be sitting on top of the world.
His three sons are happily taking on more responsibility in the vineyard he bought with his wife Ursula in 1983. One is planting new acreage in a second vineyard a few miles north, with the plan of one day opening a second tasting room.
Despite eight days of heavy rains that plagued some vineyards last September, Paumanok, like many local wineries, may have one of its best vintages yet from 2005 grapes.
And to top it all off, Long Island wines are getting some long-awaited respect from influential wine critics. Among them was a June review by the ultra-selective Wine Advocate newsletter, which advised readers to get on the mailing lists of several wineries here or miss "an opportunity for delicious discovery as well as future smugness."
"For the local industry, this is hugely important," Massoud said of the reviews, which he attributes to local winemakers collectively sharpening their skills, and vineyard managers producing better, cleaner fruit. "It's an acknowledgment of what's been happening."
But the optimism stands in odd contrast to a second trend: the large number of for-sale signs that have begun to appear up and down the wine trail.
To be sure, family circumstances have been contributing factors. Marco Borghese, 63, the Italian prince who with his wife, Ann Marie, bought the pioneering Hargrove vineyard here in the 1999, put Castello di Borghese on the market for $9.2 million earlier this year because, he said, his three sons aren't interested in following him into the business.
Family matters also have nudged vineyards such as Ackerly Pond in Peconic and Galluccio in Cutchogue to put their places up for sale. Schneider Vineyards is selling its 211/2-acre Roanoke Point vineyard in Riverhead, said owner Bruce Schneider, who wants to spend more time on his consulting business and with his 4-year-old daughter.
Rising land values, particularly on the North Fork, also have played a role in some decisions to sell. "I look at land prices and they are ridiculously high," said Bob Palmer, another pioneer of the Long Island wine industry, whose highly regarded Palmer Vineyards in Aquebogue is celebrating its 20th year. Palmer was among the wines most highly rated by the Wine Advocate, and the higher regard for local wines has helped his business.
"The kinds of wines we sell at the winery has definitely shifted," he said. "It's gone from people looking to buy $8 and $9 wines to where we just sold out of $22 sparkling wine. It's the first time that happened."
Yet the lure of high land values led Palmer to test the waters by putting a 61-acre Cutchogue property on the market this summer for $5.9 million. Palmer continues to upgrade the property with new vines, and is eyeing a second tasting room, all based on the assumption he'll keep it.
Either way, he says, it won't affect his core 61-acre Aquebogue winery and vineyard, but it's clear Palmer has been doing a lot of thinking. "Every time I see another house go up I'm a little sad," he said, referring to increased development on the North Fork.
But higher land values also are enriching the region, attracting bigger spenders and giving rise to better restaurants and a thriving market for upscale produce and seafood.
The appearance of higher-level restaurants is "a strong indication they believe this region is going to be able to support and attract high-paying customers," said Steve Bate, executive director of the Long Island Wine Council.
Those who've toiled in the vineyards for decades say the wineries are often the basis for such transformations.
"It's the natural way that these things occur in wine regions around the world," said David Page, who with Barbara Shinn owns the Shinn Estate Vineyards in Mattituck, where an upscale bed-and-breakfast is under construction.
A chef with 27 years in the business, Page watched the evolution of Napa Valley from its rural roots to a world-class wine region -- one that fed a lucrative symbiosis with nearby restaurants. "It takes the wine of a region plus the food of a region to create a cuisine," said Page, who with Shinn also owns Home, a Greenwich Village eatery. "That's what's developing here on Long Island -- a cuisine."
Louisa Thomas Hargrave, a Long Island wine pioneer and director of the Stony Brook University Center for Wine, Food and Culture, agreed, but said more needs to happen.
"What I hope to see is the restaurants in the region embracing the wines" more, she said. "It needs to happen on all of Long Island, and to hop over into Manhattan, too. That's what the blessing of the press can effect."
But the evolution of the region won't happen overnight. Theresa Dilworth, co-owner of the Comtesse Thérèse vineyard and wine label in Aquebogue, said the changes have been slow but steady. "It's like getting a good cup of coffee in Manhattan -- every deli that was selling dishwater coffee is now selling gourmet coffee," she said. Dilworth is even doing some investment of her own. She recently took over the Tasting Room in Peconic, offering her own wines as well as those of several other vineyards. And she's planning to open the Aquebogue Bistro, which will feature locally produced cheeses, duck, seafood and produce, in late fall or early 2007.
Those sorts of investments replicate on a smaller scale what deep pockets investors such as Leucadia National Corp. are making in the North Fork. Last year, it bought the adjacent Charles John and Broadfields vineyards, promptly ripped out decade-old vines and is expected to begin replanting from scratch next year. For Massoud of Paumanok, it's all positive. Most wineries here have a tough time just breaking even. If a higher-level of wine making, and positive reviews, propel the region, it just may be that operations like his can start to see profits. But he said few here are in it for that.
"I keep saying we live in paradise here," he said. "The reward is in the doing, not the money. It's a lifestyle you sign up for."
© NEWSDAY 2006
"Bucolic Delights of "Not Hampton" on Long Island," THE NEW YORK TIMES, Florence Fabricant, August 2, 2006
FOR 10 years or so I have been hearing that the North Fork of Long Island has arrived. The wineries that have opened since 1973 — 27 now, with 4 on the way — have attracted tourists. And there have long been farm stands laden with fresh produce and homemade pickles and jams. But the supply of country inns and fine restaurants was too limited to make the region a complete food and wine destination
Last year the restaurant scene brightened, and now it has hit its stride. The new restaurants — notably North Fork Table, Jedediah’s and Vine — complement the region’s bucolic allure, seaside sparkle and small-town charm by proudly serving what is locally produced.
Still, the North Fork remains the “un-Hamptons,” not only because it lacks the South Fork’s celebrities but because it is endowed with two main thoroughfares, not just a single infernal road like Montauk Highway, which snakes along the South Fork. A visit for a day or two is easy, going east from Riverhead and back, one way on Main Road (Route 25), and the other on the truck route (Route 48, also called Sound Avenue and North Road). Colonial-era villages are strung along Main Road, but both routes are dotted with wineries and farm stands. A food and wine trip from Riverhead to East Marion, just shy of Orient, is about 25 miles.
East of Riverhead on the truck route is Briermere Farms and its famous homemade fruit pies. A bit farther is a new farm, Garden of Eve, one of the few on the Fork that grow organic corn. It makes up for its lack of commercial polish with jars of delicious homemade pickled baby beets ($8).
Past a string of wineries and farms is the Catapano Dairy Farm in Peconic. Its soft, lightly tangy chèvre ($7 for 4.8 ounces) was named best goat cheese by the American Cheese Society in 2005. Sang Lee Farms in Peconic is one of my favorites for Asian greens and, in September, its edamame.
Continuing on this route you will brush Long Island Sound, bypass Greenport and reach East Marion. There, Lavender by the Bay, open on weekends, has six acres planted with 18 kinds of fresh lavender ($7 a bunch) and sells lavender honey, $9 for eight ounces. In late August, a new crop will be ready for pick-your-own ($6 a bunch).
For dining you’ll need Main Road, where the choices are now abundant.
Greenport, where ferries to Shelter Island tie up, is the busy hub that anchors Main Road in the east. In addition to the well-established Frisky Oyster, with its sophisticated menu of local ingredients, and Scrimshaw, where the attraction is Asian dumplings, it now has Vine, an appealing little wine bar in a house with a breezy porch. It serves cheese plates, North Fork oysters, charcuterie and salads to pair with wines by the glass.
To the west, in Southold, the North Fork Table and Inn, which opened in May, brings dining cachet to the area. Gerry Hayden, who worked at Aureole and Amuse in New York, and his wife, Claudia Fleming, a former pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern, have joined two partners in turning a French restaurant into a gracious tavern-style dining room in an 18th-century building.
A menu rooted in the region offers food that is full of flavor, with dishes like sashimi of fluke with pink grapefruit, Atlantic black sea bass on a bed of potato and fava bean purée, Long Island duck breast with figs, and peach-cherry cobbler. It has a selection of food-friendly North Fork wines to match. Upstairs are four pretty guest rooms.
Eon is a new inn and spa with a tailored little restaurant in a farmhouse in Southold.
Part of the North Fork experience is visiting the wineries. (Information is available at liwines.com.) With a stop at Corey Creek on Main Road in Southold you can pick up a case of summery Domaines CC rosé ($10 a bottle) that will transport you to Provence. In Peconic, to the west, is the Tasting Room, a cooperative where wines from five or more small wineries can be sampled.
Still on Main Road heading west, in Cutchogue, is Wickham’s Fruit Farm, owned by the descendants of a family that settled there in the 17th century. The stand is known for its fruit, but the corn, tomatoes, jams, pies and doughnuts should not be ignored. This season’s pick-your-own blackberries, peaches and apples are yet to come.
Close to Riverhead, in Jamesport, Jedediah Hawkins, a sea captain, built a house in 1863. It was occupied until the mid-1900’s, then rescued from the wrecker’s ball in 2003. Elegantly restored, it opened in June as a six-bedroom inn with beautiful grounds and a fine restaurant, Jedediah’s.
Tom Schaudel, the chef and a partner, is another devotee of local ingredients in dishes like Pipes Cove oysters, Long Island duck with farro and blackberry shortcake. And at the end of dinner, especially if you are spending the night, you can go into the garden, or downstairs to the comfortable stone-walled tavern, and relax as you finish your glass of Long Island wine.
© THE NEW YORK TIMES 2006
"Theresa Dilworth is keeping busy these days", LONG ISLAND BUSINESS NEWS, Alan Wax, July 21, 2006
An international tax lawyer with major pharmaceutical Pfizer in Manhattan, Theresa Dilworth is the principal owner of the Comtesse Thérèse Winery on the North Fork. Now, she is also the owner of the Tasting Room, a showcase in Peconic for multiple boutique wineries.
That’s not all. She also is undertaking renovation of a historic house in Jamesport with the aim of turning it into a bistro specializing in foods sourced on the East End and elsewhere in New York State.
“I am exhausted,” she confessed.
The Tasting Room, founded in 2003, was until earlier this year owned by Broadfields Vineyards. It was forced to close in March due to licensing issues involving Leucadia National Corp., which acquired Broadfields. Dilworth took over the modest storefront wine bar under her own farm winery license and reopened it July 1.
“It’s just been tumultuous,” she said. “This is the last thing I wanted to do.”
But Dilworth had good reason to keep the small store adjacent to the railroad tracks on Peconic Lane going: It generates half of Comtesse Thérèse’s revenues. The rest of Comtesse Thérèse’s sales are from mail-order and sales to wine shops and restaurants. Besides the store, Dilworth got the tasting room’s 1,700-name mailing list, logo and a few pieces of equipment.
Comtesse Thérèse was one of the early participants in the Tasting Room, along with Schneider Vineyards, Broadfields and Sherwood HouseVineyards. Now, besides Dilworth’s label, the tasting room will feature wines from Sherwood House Vineyards, Diliberto Vineyards and Ternhaven Cellars.
“Both Diliberto and Ternhaven fit the profile I was looking for, which is small quantities of hand-crafted, boutique, North Fork of Long Island wines,” said Dilworth, noting she is in discussions with several other small local wineries to join the roster. They may come aboard within a few months.
Most of the participating wineries produce less than 1,000 cases annually, with lot sizes of individual wines ranging from 50 to a couple of hundred cases.
Dilworth’s tiny wine operation in Aquebouge produced just 1,700 cases of wine in 2005, up from 1,100 cases from the 2004 vintage, which is being bottled this year. Last year, Dilworth sold just 600 cases of wine, mostly merlot. Her wines are produced at the Premium Wine Group, a custom winery in Mattituck.
A second Tasting Room location in Jamesport has been converted to Leucadia’s regional vineyard office.
Dilworth, who lives in Manhattan during the week, owns a home that she built in Mattituck with her husband, Mineo Shimura. Now she is putting her carpentry skills to work again in an effort to turn the former Jamesport Saddlery on Main Road into a 24-seat bistro.
It took her 21/2 years to get site plan approval for the renovations, but she still needs approval from the State Department of Transportation because of the Route 25 location. The building dates to the 1830s.
“I want it to be elegant, like someone’s home,” Dilworth said of her planned as-yet-unnamed bistro. She said it will feature only Long Island wines, Long Island beer and, to the extent possible, foods sources on Long Island, including duck, chicken, meats and cheeses. She said she has spent the last two years searching for producers.
Dilworth sees her restaurant, currently chefless, focusing on foods that compliment red wines, which are the specialty of Comtesse Thérèse. “Lots of East End restaurants focus on seafood,” she added.
Moreover, she said, “I want it to be affordable and approachable.” She is considering minimal markups on the wines the restaurant will sell. “I don’t want to lose money, but I’m not looking to make a huge profit,” she added.
Dilworth is unhurried and unworried about completing the bistro. She owns the building outright and only has property tax payments to worry about.
“I don’t want to get overloaded,” she said.
The Tasting Room (631-765-6404) is located at 2885 Peconic Lane in Peconic. For more information, visit www.LCTwinery.com.
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"Vineyard Market Growing," NEWSDAY, Mark Harrington, June 13, 2006
Another East-End grape grower, Schneider Vineyards, has put its Roanoke Point Vineyard back on the market after a year's hiatus, but opinions were mixed yesterday about whether the recent spate of for sale signs in the wine region constitutes a glut.
The 21.5-acre Roanoke Point property in Riverhead was put on the selling block for $1.65 million in 2004 - two years after owner Bruce Schneider, his wife, Christiane Baker Schneider, and private investors bought the former Ziknick potato farm for $433,000 in 2002. It was taken off the market in 2005, Bruce Schneider said yesterday.
Roanoke Point joins a stable of vineyards, including Ackerly Pond Vineyards, Castello di Borghese Vineyard & Winery, Gallucio Family Wineries and a handful of others that have indicated they'd sell at the right price. Ternhaven Wine Cellars of Greenport sold its five-acre vineyard to a home buyer earlier this year, and two others, Charles John Vineyard and Broadfields, sold to a holding company, Leucadia National Corp., in the fall.
The Belle Brittany vineyard, which is owned by developer Bruce Barnet and is adjacent to the Long Island National Golf Club in Riverhead, has been on the market for the past year and a half, said broker Louisa Thomas Hargrave, who cautioned against reading too much into all the recent activity.
"I don't think you can generalize," said Hargrave, former co-owner of the pioneering Hargrave Vineyard and now director of the Stony Brook University Center for Wine, Food and Culture. "I think all these situations are very separate. These things kind of go in cycles."
But Theresa Dilworth, owner of Comtesse Thérèse vineyard in Aquebogue, disagreed. "If you look [what's for sale] relative to the market, there's a lot out there," she said. "There's been a lot of turnover."
Complicating matters, she added, "The pool of investors who want to buy [a vineyard] on Long Island is very small. It's an expensive industry to be in, and people realize you need deep pockets, really deep."
Bruce Schneider yesterday said the decision to put the vineyard back on the market was a personal one that stemmed from a desire to spend more time on his consulting business and with the couple's 4-year-old daughter. The $150,000 increase in the asking price from 2004 reflected inclusion of the Potato Barn brand, he said.
Schneider said he will continue making red wines from his Estate Vineyard in Mattituck, which is planted with 11 acres of primarily Cabernet Franc grapes. "I plan to continue making wine on the North Fork for a very long time to come," he said.
Schneider said he viewed his plan to sell somewhat differently than the other, larger vineyards on the market - most including wine-making facilities and listing for millions of dollars more. Roanoke is "for someone looking for a vineyard that can produce very high-quality wines on a manageable scale," he said.
© 2006 Newsday Inc.
Next Napa ?" NEWSDAY, Louisa Thomas Hargrave, April
California has shown, the 'money people' are the necessary
next step to greatness as the North Fork wine industry
recent headline in Newsday described the Long Island
wine industry as being "in ferment," as smaller
vintners sell their businesses to bigger operators.
The clever pun implies a seething undercurrent of tension
(if not a malodorous atmosphere of defeat) among the
smaller players on the North Fork .
Although it's true that several vineyard properties
are for sale, and the Leucadia National Corp., a publicly
traded holding corporation, has purchased and reconfigured
two established vineyards - Broadfields and Charles
John - it's unfair to suggest such turmoil. What's happening
on the North Fork is a positive and natural evolution
of an industry that already transformed the region many
years ago, beginning with the establishment of my own
vineyard (Hargrave Vineyard) 33 years ago, in May 1973.
we planted the first European wine grapes (vitis vinifera)
on Long Island, my then-husband Alex and I found the
North Fork to be a hardscrabble farming community where
families barely eked out a living growing potatoes and
cauliflower on flat, windswept land. What our neighbors
lacked in prosperity, they made up for in generosity.
We came as a young couple with no farming experience,
ready to invest everything we had, including our labor
and our love, to make great wine. Although viticultural
experts were skeptical of our efforts, our farming neighbors,
especially the Kaloski, Simchick and Wickham families,
taught us to farm and bailed us out countless times
when droughts, weeds and storms threatened our fragile
By the early 1980s, we had made wines that gained international
acclaim, and several other wine pioneers had also planted
grapes on Long Island . Today, where there once were
potatoes, more than 3,000 acres of vitis vinifera are
growing on Long Island . And that makes it a significant,
successful wine region.
To be accurate, potato farms, sod farms and nurseries
still outnumber the vineyards, but the vineyards have
managed to glamorize the region in a way that grass,
potatoes and shrubbery just can't. The allure of a vintner's
life has been potent for 5,000 years. Historically,
wine is among the most successful engines of economic
growth and far-reaching trade. And the drink itself
has been the stuff of myth and legend for centuries
in cultures all over the world.
In the best wine regions, wealthy investors have always
considered vineyard ownership to convey a special kind
of status. But this kind of investment comes only after
individuals or families who have a fervent personal
dedication to wine have put themselves at risk to establish
the region. The "money people" follow the
"passion people." This is what we see happening
on Long Island .
The Napa Valley of the 1970s wasn't much different from
the North Fork today, with a group of individual owners
struggling to convince a Eurocentric market that their
wines were good. They organized and marketed their wine
as a premium product, scoring a coup when, in 1976,
a handful of Napa wines bested French wines at a Paris
tasting. That attracted investment by famous French
vintners and by movie stars, driving the value of the
wines up enough to support the preservation of their
farms and secure corporate buyers.
The recent investment in Long Island viticulture by
Michael Lynne, president of New Line Cinemas, and Leucadia
Corp. can have the same effect as the purchase of Napa
properties by people like Francis Ford Coppola, or corporations
like Constellation Brands. Investors such as these create
a climate of confidence, and their ability to hire consultants
and wine-makers with global experience can only serve
the region well. They can afford to work larger parcels
and will send more Long Island wine into national distribution,
which is necessary to get national and international
media to take our region's wines seriously.
Do the newcomers need to rip out mature vines, plant
new ones in tighter clusters and change fermentation
strategies, as Leucadia is doing? Maybe not, but these
kinds of changes represent trends in the industry worldwide,
and few established vintners can afford to make such
Where does that leave the small family producers? Here,
on Long Island , where most farms are about 30 to 40
acres (the amount that would have supported a family
growing potatoes), most vineyards planted in the '80s
and '90s were of about that size. But though a farmer
on a tractor can take care of 30 acres of potatoes almost
single-handedly, grapes require much more hand labor.
And while the work of a potato farmer is done when the
crop is harvested, a vintner has the added job of fermenting,
bottling and selling his crop, often running a retail
shop as well.
When land prices were reasonable, a small vineyard and
winery investment didn't seem too daunting for a couple
of limited means, like my then-husband and myself, to
take on. Today, the effort of working a typical North
Fork farm requires either an extended family who can
enthusiastically take on the tasks (like the Massouds
of Paumanok Vineyards or the Pugliese family of Pugliese
Vineyards), or more capital to hire other people to
do the job.
With all the initial costs inherent in grape production
and wine making, it's hard to turn a profit unless the
wines themselves find a market at a good price. Today,
with increased government regulation and escalating
costs of every kind, it makes sense for a corporate
or high-net-worth investor to take on this size of wine
estate, even to expand it. It shouldn't be surprising
that, as Newsday reported, owners like the Borghese
and Galluccio families would want to sell their wineries
when retirement beckons and no family members want to
take on the task.
Leucadia has left thousands of uprooted old grapevines
piled on the ground. But does corporate investment seriously
change the "feel" of the North Fork ? Let's
face it: The North Fork is no longer a community of
hardscrabble farmers, as it was in 1973. It's become
suburbanized, and it's becoming Hamptonized. When we
came to Cutchogue, our neighbor, Jeannie Zuhoski, brought
us a fresh-baked pie. I doubt that anyone took a pie
to Leucadia's headquarters on Park Avenue South when
they bought two Southold vineyards last year.
And yet, this is a gregarious industry that still maintains
an old-fashioned farming ethic. Leucadia's manager,
Ben Sisson, is a longtime member of our viticultural
community, in which wine-makers and vineyard managers
privately advise one another and share equipment. On
Tuesday mornings through the season, you can find vintners
meeting at a local deli to troubleshoot their experiences
with one another. Once a month, wine-makers meet for
dinner to talk shop and taste wines of other regions.
Another vintner, from another era, may offer advice
to Long Island 's noncorporate vintners. Lucius Columella,
a first century AD Roman soldier who owned vineyards
in Italy but lived in Spain , wrote in his treatise
on grape-growing in De Re Rustica, "Admire a large
estate, but work a small one."
Similarly, those Long Island vintners who limit their
scope will make small amounts of wonderful wine that,
in time, will be so sought after it will provide them
a prosperous living. In Napa , as in Burgundy , some
of the most expensive wines are made in tiny quantities,
and that model can work here, too.
The corporate "money" investors are not pushing
out the "passion" people. Talk to Sal Diliberto
of Diliberto Cellars, Larry Perrine of Channing Daughters,
Ros and Chris Baiz of The Old Field, Theresa Dilworth
of Le Clos Therese, among others. You'll find that small-scale
wine-making still has a place on Long Island , and that
most of the "ferment" takes place within the
wine vats, where it belongs.
Louisa Thomas Hargrave is director of the Stony
Brook University Center for Wine, Food, and Culture,
and author of "The Vineyard: a Memoir."
© 2006, NEWSDAY
York White: Chardonnay," WINE & SPIRITS, April
Thérèse 2004 North Fork of Long Island
Russian Oak Chardonnay. Fresh flavors
of caramel and quince give way to an almost cherrylike
fruit. It's a sweet, fleshy wine for grilled chicken. Comtesse Thérèse, Mattituck NY.
2006, Wine & Spirits
Tasting Rooms Close; One Might Reopen," NEWSDAY,
Mark Harrington, March 9, 2006
The new owners of Broadfields Wine Cellars in Southold
have shuttered its two East End sampling and sales outlets
known as The Tasting Room, but a vintner whose wines
were featured there plans to reopen one of them.
Broadfields and Charles John Vineyards were bought in
October by the Napa Valley-based Pine Ridge Winery division
of secretive Manhattan investment firm Leucadia National
Corp. In addition to acres of vineyards, the sale included
Broadfields' two small Tasting Room stores - one in
Peconic, the other in Jamesport.
Both outlets closed last Thursday after weeks of selling
wine in stock for 20 percent off, according to a store
representative and the operation's Web site. Sarah Barnes, an official at Leucadia's
Pine Ridge Winery based in Salt Lake City, didn't return
a phone call seeking comment. The State Liquor Authority
Web site notes that the farm winery-retail license of
the Peconic Tasting Room expired Feb. 28.
In its sudden absence, Theresa Dilworth, owner of Comtesse
Therese vineyard in Aquebogue, said yesterday she is
in the process of acquiring the lease of the Peconic
location with a plan to reopen it this spring under
the name Vinetastings.
Dilworth, a tax attorney at Pfizer Inc. in Manhattan,
said she plans to use about half the space of the former
Tasting Room, and open on weekends only. She plans to
feature regional wines from other winemakers, in addition to Comtesse Therese vintages.
The Tasting Room also had sold wines from Schneider
Vineyards and Broadfields.
"I'm going to continue the concept of a multiwinery
location," Dilworth said, noting that Tasting Room
sales constituted half her revenue. "I think it's
good for the region."
She plans to keep other Tasting Room elements. "It
will still have that Tasting Room feel," added
Lisa Julian Cannac, the winery's director of sales and
assistant wine maker, "but we'll make it a little
In the interim, Dilworth's wines are being sold in Vineyard
48's wine-tasting room in Cutchogue.
Meanwhile, Leucadia, which owns the Jamesport commercial
property that housed the other shuttered Tasting Room,
is said to be using the space as its regional office.
A call to that location wasn't returned yesterday.
Steve Bate, executive director of the Long Island Wine
Council, said the Tasting Rooms, the first of which
opened in 2003, served a useful purpose. "It's
a nice idea to have a number of wines [in one location]
from wineries that don't have their own tasting room," he said.
Dilworth, who also is preparing to open a restaurant
in November called the Aquebogue Bistro, featuring local
wines and food, said Vinetastings is another step in
the evolution of her operation. "I was lucky I
didn't have to open a winery from day one," said
Dilworth, whose wines are processed by the Premium Wine
Group in Mattituck. "Hopefully, it's just a progression
in my development as a winery owner."
Copyright © 2006, Newsday, Inc.
New York Vines, Wines and Dines, LENNDEVOURS, March 2, 2006
Chardonnay Week 2006 continues with a bottle of Comtesse
Therese 2004 Russian Oak Chardonnay ($18).
Therese wines are made by Long Island's only female
winemaker, Theresa Dilworth, whose "day job" is in Pfizer's
is one of only a few local producers using Russian oak
for her chardonnay (or at least one of the few that
promotes it so much) and she also makes a merlot that
is made in 100% Hungarian oak, which is also highlighted
on the front label.
of Theresa's wines are made at Premium Wine Group, the
only custom-crush facility on the East Coast, and she
made 256 cases of this surprisingly delicate chardonnay.
nose is a touch underwhelming at first (the wine was
chilled for 45 minutes in a standard refridgerator)
but eventually gave up toasty, nutty aromas with lemon
zest, vanilla and even fresh white flowers.
round and supple, this wine's flavors are rather delicate
despite barrel fermentation and 14 months in oak before
bottling. The flavors closely match the nose, with nice
balance, though I'd like a bit more acidity. The finish
is medium-long with hints of butterscotch at the very
is a real "food wine" and unlike many writers, I don't
mean that as a negative. Lobster and scallops are the
"Long Island - Bordeaux' North Fork", SOMMELIER NEWS, Roger Morris, March 2006
Winegrowing colony at island's East End holds to small-town charm.
The Eastern United States has a long history of winemaking, but, because of its frigid winters with their withering winds that rip at a vine's soul and its humid summers that spawn bunch-rotting molds and mildews, this history has not always been a glorious one. In the past quarter century, however, modern viticultural practices and better winemaking techniques have created regional pockets of Eastern winemaking excellence comparable to many of the traditional European wine-growing areas that are also climatologically challenged. . . .
Most of the Long Island wineries are on the rural North Fork, which begins just east of Riverhead, the terminus of the Long Island Expressway. Here more than 30 wineries, many with public tasting rooms, are concentrated along a very narrow, 25-miles-long peninsula that runs southwest to northeast, with Long Island Sound to its north and the Peconic Bay to the south, until it disappears just past Greenport. Potatoes were once king in the North Fork, but today a different kind of vine is dominant.
There is a 1950's black-and-white movie feel about the North Fork AVA, almost as if Alfred Hitchcock had once scouted it out and put it on permanent hold for a future project. The buildings are plain and settle in low to the ground. The landscape itself is almost flat, but still has gentle, naturally flowing hillocks, slopes, and stream channels that the villages and roads have quietly molded into, as if the plague of the developers' Caterpillars had never spread out this far.
Last October, I drove back with a small group of friends to visit the East End again just as the nights were getting cold and as the farmers who had not invested all their sweat into grapes had blanketed field after field with orange pumpkins.
After clearing Sunday morning traffic just past Riverhead, our first stop was along the two-lane state route 25 at The Tasting Room in Jamesport. Lodged among other small shops, The Tasting Room serves as a low-key visitors' center for the area, pouring wines from a few places too small for their own tasting facilities while providing travel advice and free brochures. This morning, the wines de jour were from Broadfields, Schneider, and Comtesse Thérèse. Owned by Pfizer corporate lawyer and native islander Theresa Dilworth, Thérèse has become known for its textured, brooding Merlots, and the 2003 we were served didn't disappoint us. . .
© Sommelier News 2006
Wine Enthusiast Online, June 2006
2004 Comtesse Thérèse Russian Oak Chardonnay, North Fork of Long Island $18
The oak, although prominent in the name, isn't so obvious on the nose of this wine. Instead there's underripe peach and melon, followed by flavors that are more like apples and pears. It's a pleasant, medium-bodied wine with a slightly custardy texture and strong pencilly oak overtones showing through only on the finish. — J.C. (3/1/2006)
2003 Comtesse Thérèse Hungarian Oak Merlot, North Fork of Long Island $17
Starts with scents of rhubarb and strawberries and stays right there, offering crisp berry flavors and a tart, lean finish. — J.C. ()
© Wine Enthusiast 2006
Wine Spectator Online, June 2006
Chardonnay North Fork of Long Island Comtesse Thérèse Russian Oak 2003
Vanilla and toasty notes from oak overshadow the pretty melon fruit flavors in this white, but there's just enough acidity to keep it lively. For fans of oak. Drink now. 190 cases made. (TM) (web only 2005)
Cabernet Sauvignon North Fork of Long Island Comtesse Thérèse 2002
Oak takes the lead in this firm red, with charry and cola flavors that dominate the black cherry fruit. The tannins are a bit chewy. 210 cases made. (TM) (web only 2005)
Comtesse Thérèse Rosé North Fork of Long Island 2004
This pale rosé offers candied fruit flavors of berry and watermelon, simple and slightly cloying. Merlot. 150 cases made. (TM) (web only 2006)
Merlot North Fork of Long Island Comtesse Thérèse Traditional 2002
Charry oak flavors overwhelm the modest berry and herbal flavors in this light, tannic red. 188 cases made. (TM) (web only 2005)
Comtesse Thérèse Rosé Long Island 2002
This off-dry rosé bears a resemblance to a cherry flavored hard candy. Merlot. 47 cases made. (TM) (web only 2004)
Merlot Long Island Comtesse Thérèse Château Reserve 2001
This generous red offers chocolate, plum and toast flavors. A bit on the oaky side, but with enough fruit to keep it fresh. Drink now through 2005. 130 cases made. (TM) (web only 2003)
Merlot Long Island Comtesse Thérèse Hungarian Oak 2001
Black cherry and toasty flavors with a light herbal edge mingle in this firm red. It shows crisp acidity, balance and concentration. Drink now through 2006. 98 cases made. (TM)( May 31, 2004)
Merlot Long Island Comtesse Thérèse Traditional 2001
Smoky oak and ripe black cherry marry nicely in this velvety red. It's gentle on the palate, but has enough structure for richer dishes. Drink now through 2005. 300 cases made. (TM) (May 31, 2004)
© Wine Spectator Online 2006