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Long Island vineyard funded through Kickstarter offers different wines

Southold Farm+Cellar, an upstart winery, is producing distinctive wines made from familiar grapes.

 

Regan Meador of Southold Farm+Cellars, his tasting barn and vines

Regan Meador of Southold Farm+Cellars, his tasting barn and vines

By Alan J. Wax

A little more than a year ago, the owners of a Southold, Long Island, vineyard were seeking crowd-sourced funds to plant 9 acres of what they described as “weird” grapes. Now, they’ve not only planted their grapes but they’re selling their first vintage, albeit made with purchased grapes.

The owners of Southold Farm + Cellar, Regan and Carey Meador, raised almost $25,000 through a campaign on Kickstarter.com to plant what Regan Meador called “weird grapes.” This spring, they planted 9 acres of grapes – Teroldego, Lagrein, Goldmuskateller and the not-so-weird syrah— and now they’re are selling four wines from their hard-to-find, small, gut-renovated-barn-cum-tasting room on a rural North Fork lane.

The Meadors’ hope was to bring diversity to the Long Island wine market by planting grapes such as Teroldego, a red Italian variety grown primarily in the northeastern region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Süditrol, Italy.

The Meadors, now 34, combined their savings with money from relatives two years ago to buy the 23.7-acre former Charles John Family Vineyard on Long Island’s North Fork from Leucadia National Corp., which had pulled out all the vines.

Now, with fund raising behind him, vines planted and wine made and on sale, Regan Meador says he feels an air of excitement. “It’s so nice to actually sell something now. It was so esoteric and theoretical. Now I can put stuff in front of you.”

Regan Meador and his wines, inside his tasting barn.

The Wines

And what he’s putting out!

Southold Farm+Cellar’s wines stylistically stand out in the increasingly crowded Long Island market dominated by merlot and chardonnay.

The wines, except for one, are made from grapes purchased from area growers, including Rex Farr, who owns a certified organic vineyard, and the pioneering Mudd Vineyards. Meador made the wine at the Raphael winery in Peconic.

Meador, who has no formal wine making training, but has taken courses from the University of California-Davis and has apprenticed as at Osprey’s Dominion in Southold, was a planner at a New York City advertising agency before turning to oenology.

Greg Gove at the now-closed Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue made Southold’s La Belle Fille Brut Nature 2009, a Pinot Noir and Chardonnay sparkler. “It was a forgotten step child. It never saw the light of day,” he said, explaining that he bought the entire 100-case stock, disgorged the wines but did not add a dosage, and then slapped on his own label. The wine, it’s French name translates to “The Step Daughter,” sells for $36. It offers a nose of pears. It’s rich and fruity with a dry finish. “I wanted to give people the same experience I had in in stumbling upon it,” Meador said.

Devil’s Advocate, a Chardonnay made from the 40-year old Mustique clone vines at Mudd Vineyards in Southold, is not a typical chardonnay.  Though not a fan of Chardonnay, Meador said he felt compelled to offer one, albeit made his way. He barrel fermented the wine in large, 228-gallon wooden casks, leaving the wine on its skins for seven days. This wine fermented on wild yeast for over four months, going through secondary on its own. A bit of sulfur was added at the end. It’s full-bodied with tropical fruit and spice notes reminiscent of Gewürztraminer. It sells for $26 a bottle; 190 cases were made.

Cast Your Fate to Wind, Southold’s cabernet franc, also is a departure from the North Fork’s traditional handling of the grape.  It was made in a Chinon/Loire style, using whole clusters of grapes that were, in part, foot-stomped and aged in large casks. The organic fruit came from Rex Farr in Calverton. Dark, but light in body, it’s earthy, spicy and full of cigar box character. Meador produced 119 cases; it sells for $32 a bottle.

Damn the Torpedoes a crown cap finished, wild-fermented sparkling red wine in the Lambrusco style made from a Merlot-predominant blend that also includes Petit Verdot and Pinot Noir. It offers up noted of dried fruit, and plums. A light summer red, it sells for $28; 148 cases were produced.

The wines already are attracting attention. In just a short time, Meador’s made his first sale to a restaurant— Damn the Torpedoes, Cast Your Fate to The Wind and The Devil’s Advocate are now available at The North Fork Table and Inn in Southold. He’s also selling wine online, and, relying strictly on social media, he attracted 60 visitors on his opening weekend.

And while that last number may seem small, Meador is unperturbed. “I don’t need a big cavalcade of people coming in the door. I want people excited about wine.”

 

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Long Island vineyard’s Kickstarter campaign exceeds goal; 2 weeks remain

The owners of a Southold, Long Island vineyard seeking $15,000 in crowd-sourced funds to plant an acre of “weird” grapes have exceeded their goal with more than two weeks to go.

Aided by a press bonanza that included an article on the online-edition of the Wall Street Journal   as well a story in this blog, the owners of Southold Farm & Cellar thus far have received 123 pledges for a total of $22,135 that will allow them to plant an acre of Teroldego grapes—and more.

The owners, Regan and Carey Meador, announced March 11 that if they add another 100 backers before their Kickstart campaign runs its course, the will allow the group to vote on the next variety of “weird” grapes. “The more people talking about and supporting what we’re doing, the more effect it can have influencing folks in the marketplace whether they are a new wine lover or a vineyard owner considering what to plant,” Regan Meador said on his Kickstarter page. “ We have all the confidence in the world we can hit this goal … ”

The Meadors, hoping to bring diversity to the Long Island wine market, plan to plant Teroldego, a red Italian variety grown primarily in the northeastern region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Süditrol, Italy, and other less-popular varieties, among them Syrah, Lagrein, Goldmuskateller, Albariño and Marsanne.

They’ve called their Kickstarter campaign, “Bring Weird Grapes to the North Fork”.

Meador estimated the cost of planting one acre of grapes at $15,000, excluding land costs, with another $5,000 a year per acre, to keep the vines growing.

 

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North Fork couple launch Kickstarter campaign to plant ‘weird’ grapes

Southold-mainThe owners of a new vineyard on the North Fork of Long Island have launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund their first plantings — an acre of what owner Regan Meador calls “weird grapes.”

The grape variety being considered by Southold Farm & Cellar is Teroldego, a red Italian variety grown primarily in the northeastern region of Trentino-Alto Adige/Süditrol, Italy.

They’ve called their Kickstarter campaign, “Bring Weird Grapes to the North Fork.”

Just three days after launching their campaign Meador and, his wife Carey (nee O’Connor) have pledges for  a third of the $15,000 they are trying to raise. The crowd-funding campaign seeks contributions of as little as $1.

Meador estimated the cost of planting one acre of grapes at $15,000, excluding land costs, with another $5,000 a year per acre, to keep the vines growing.

The couple turned to Kickstarter, because they have a friend who had success “funding everything.”

Regan and Carey Meador

Regan and Carey Meadow

The Meadors, both 33, combined their savings with money from relatives last year for their $800,000 purchase of a 23.7-acre one-time vineyard from Leucadia National Corp. Since then, they’ve been busy restoring a house on the property they’ve dubbed Southold Farm & Cellar.  They’ve also prepared the vineyard for planting. Prior to the farm’s sale to Leucadia in 2006 the property was known as Charles John Family Vineyard.  Leucadia pulled out all the vines on the site on County Road 48 and Horton’s Lane.

Meador, who has no formal wine making training, has taken courses from the University of California-Davis and has been apprenticing as an assistant wine marker with Adam Suprenant at Osprey’s Dominion in Southold.  The couple moved to the North Fork from New York City in June 2011.  Before turning to wine, Meador was a planner at the New York City advertising agency, Euro RSCG, where he worked on campaigns for Heineken and Dos Equis beers.

He said the couple considered other places to start a vineyard, including Texas’ Hill Country, where he grew up. But moving to the North Fork, where Carey Meador grew up and where her parents still live “made the most sense,” he said.

Meador admits that planting a grape that few have experience with is “a shot in the dark,” but he said he hopes that this will distinguish Southold Farm & Cellar from the dozens of other wine producers in the region. “It’s an intriguing grape,” he said, noting that he’s tasted wines from the Finger Lakes made with Teroldego. For the future, he’s considering plantings of Syrah, Lagrein, Goldmuskateller, Albariño and Marsanne.

Meador’s interest in “weird” grapes isn’t so far fetched.  He said growers on Long Island’s East End, particularly Channings Daughters in Bridgehampton, have experimented successfully with a range of grape varieties beyond the region’s workhorses, merlot and chardonnay. He hopes to get young vines from a California nursery into the ground this spring.

In addition to Channing’s plantings of such less popular varieties as Lagrein, Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friulano, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat Ottonel, Malvasia, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Bianco, Blaufrankish Dornfelder, Teroldego and Refosco. Palmer Vineyards in Riverhead has a patch of Albariño grapes, Paumanok VIneyards in Aquebogue has plantings of Chenin Blanc Pugliese Vineyards in Cutchogue grows Sangiovese.

The Meadors plan to take it slowly.  Their initial goal is to plant just seven of their 23 acres of grapes and, possibly, later add an orchard with heirloom apples trees to eventually make cider.

Meador said he hopes to brand his business by making wines that offer different tastes and textures from what is typically available on the North Fork. He said he also intends to take some cues from Brooklyn’s Red Hook Winery, which has produced an eclectic variety of wines using Long Island grapes.

Ultimately, Meador said, he wants to build his own winery, but the foreseeable future, he said, he’ll contract produce elsewhere. He said he might purchase Cabernet Cranc for a Chinon-style wine and, perhaps, Sauvignon Blanc, next harvest “to get the ball rolling.”

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