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by Fred McMillin
for August 7, 2000

 

From Spuds to Buds


Prologue

In 1978 German-born Christian Wolffer bought a 14-acre potato farm in the east end of Long Island on a peninsula called The Hamptons. There he planted a vineyard.

Spring fogs keep the Hampton vineyards cool and prevent premature Budbreak. (Jancis Robinson)

Wolffer Estate Rose

The Rest of the Story

"Long Island's climate, moderated by the surrounding waters, is New York's best for growing the classic table-wine grapes. For example, its growing season is 45 days longer than that of the famed New York Finger Lakes area." (the late Leon Adams)


Mystery

OK. Then why was there no vineyard on Long Island even 30 years ago? Leon tells us the moist climate was pest-friendly. Modern sprays made Long Island viticulture feasible. So, the vineyard manager is CRUCIAL in the Hamptons. Whom did Christian hire?


A Choirboy in the Black Forest

When Christian hought that potato farm 22 years ago, the person who would expand it to its present 55 acres was a 12-year-old gifted choirboy in the Black Forest. However, Roman Roth's day job changed from voice to vines at age 16, when he started a three-year apprenticeship at a German wine cooperative. Ten years later he joined Wolffer Estate after acquiring a Masters degree in Winemaking and practical experience working vintages in California, Australia and Germany. By 1997 Roman had something like 30,000 cases a year production to handle. Clearly, he needed help in those challenging vineyards. So, Christian brought aboard a rare commomdity. Richard Piscano is a Long Islander who has worked the vineyards of the peninsula since viticulture started there in the '70s. Thus, Richard and Roman bring a lot of expertise to our...


Wine of the Day

Wolffer Estate Rosé Table Wine
The Hamptons, Long Island, N.Y.
Winemaking—This is a BLENDED rosé, made from separately-fermented white and red grapes...52% Chardonnay, 42% Merlot and 6% Pinot Noir.
Tasting Notes—Completely dry, very crisp, very distinctive. Don't expect an off-dry White Zinfandel. This is fish and fowl friendly.
Contact—Marsha Palanci, (212)605-0370, FX (212)605-0371
Price—$10.50 range

Postscript—"We're Number One!"

In a Wall Street Journal blind tasting of American rosés last year, who won Number One? Christian, Roman and Richard's Wolffer Rosé!

 
About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers. For information about the wine courses he teaches every month at either San Francisco State University or San Francisco City College (Fort Mason Division), please fax him at (415) 567-4468.

 
 


This page created August 2000

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