By Alan J. Wax
A multi-generational, family-owned Long Island wine producer founded almost two decades ago is getting long overdue recognition.
Macari Vineyards, which now produces about 14,000 cases a wine annually from 200 acres of vines in Mattituck, on Long Island’s North Fork, won the New York State Winery of the Year award at the 2014 New York State Wine & Food Classic, an annual competition run by the New York State Wine & Grape Foundation.
“It was really great. We’re really happy,” co-owner Alexandra Macari said of the award announced Aug. 13 in Watkins Glen. She attributed the win to the winery’s staff. “We have such a solid team,” she said.
Owners Joseph Macari Sr., his wife, Katherine, and Joseph Macari Jr., who runs the winery with his wife, Alexandra, and their children, founded the winery in 1995 on 200 acres of the family’s 50-year-old, 500-acre waterfront estate, Some of the acreage is used to raise livestock, including Texas Longhorn cattle, goats, donkeys, horses, ducks and rabbits.
In June 2007, the Macaris added 20 acres of vines to their holdings and a second tasting room when they purchased the former Galluccio Vineyard in Cutchogue.
The Macari vineyards, planted with Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viogner, Grüner Veltliner, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Meunier and Syrah, are largely farmed using biodynamic methods with fungicide and pesticide sprayed only once a year. Chemical nitrogen and herbicide has not bee used for the past 16 years. The vineyard was briefly on the selling block a decade ago.
The Winery of the Year award recognizes consistent quality of wines, said Jim Trezise, president of the wine industry group. At least seven wines had to be entered into the competition. Trezise said numbers are assigned for Bronze, Silver, Gold, Double Gold, Best of Class and Best of Category, and then the total is divided by the number of wines entered to derive a ratio; the winery with the highest ratio receives the award. This year, there were 863 entries, 733 of them medaled.
Macari is the third Long Island winery to receive the top winery award, which last year went to McCall Wines, of Cutchogue, and in 2004 to Paumanok Vineyards, of Aquebogue.
Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling, Estate Bottled, from the Finger Lakes wine region won the coveted Governor’s Cup trophy as the judge’s top wine. The winery was purchased last year by Gene Pierce, owner of nearby Glenora Wine Cellars.
This year’s competition included 835 New York wines, 20 hard ciders and 8 spirits from across New York.
Macari won Best Red Wine and Best Cabernet Franc for its 2010 vintage on its way to its Winery of the Year award, along with several other top medals. “We really believe in Cabernet Franc from Long Island, said the UC Davis-trained Kelly Urbanik Koch, Macari’s winemaker since June 2010.
Macari’s other awards included double gold for its 2012 Chardonnay Estate, gold for its 2010 Cabernet Franc, 2008 Dos Aquas red blend, and 2013 Katherine’s Field Sauvignon Blanc. It also received silver medals for its 2007 Merlot Reserve, 2010 Bergen Road red blend, 2012 Chardonnay Reserve, 2013 Rose and 2010 Block E Viogner
The awards were based on blind tastings by 22 expert judges, including four from California, 10 from New York, seven from other states, and one from France. They included wine writers, restaurateurs, retailers, and wine educators. Judging panels determined the initial awards, with the top-scoring wines evaluated by all 22 judges for Best of Category and Governor’s Cup awards.
Such awards and medals are useful marketing tools for the numerous small wineries across the state that were eligible to enter the competition.
The complete results can be download from industry group’s web site.
The Best of Category awards, all considered for the Governor’s Cup, went to:
Best Sparkling Wine: Sparkling Pointe Vineyards & Winery 2005 Brut Seduction, Methode Champenoise
Best White Wine: Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling, Estate Bottled
Best Rose Wine: Anthony Road Wine Co. 2013 Rosé of Cabernet Franc
Best Red Wine: Macari Vineyards & Winery 2010 Cabernet Franc
Best Dessert Wine: Idol Ridge Winery 2014 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine
Best of Class awards went to Double Gold or Gold medal wines in classes of at least seven wines. The winners:
Best Oaked Chardonnay: Coffee Pot Cellars 2013 Chardonnay
Best Unoaked Chardonnay: Martha Clara Vineyards 2012 Chardonnay
Best Overall Chardonnay: Martha Clara Vineyards 2012 Chardonnay
Best Gewürztraminer: Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars 2013 Gewürztraminer, Estate Bottled
Best Dry Riesling: Wagner Vineyards 2012 Riesling Dry, Caywood East Vineyards Estate Grown
Best Medium Dry Riesling: Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling, Estate Bottled
Best Medium Sweet Riesling: Barnstormer Winery 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling
Best Sweet Riesling: Wagner Vineyards 2012 Riesling Select, Estate Grown & Bottled
Best Overall Riesling: Chateau Lafayette Reneau 2013 Semi-Dry Riesling, Estate Bottled
Best Sauvignon Blanc: Hosmer Winery 2013 Sauvignon Blanc
Best Pinot Grigio: Swedish Hill Winery 2013 Pinot Grigio
Best Grüner Veltliner: Three Brothers Wineries & Estates 2013 Grüner Veltliner, Estate Reserve
Best Vinifera White: Seneca Hayes Wine Cellars 2012 Riesling-Gewürztraminer
Best Other White Vinifera Varietal: Millbrook Vineyards & Winery 2013 Tocai Friulano, Proprietor’s Special Reserve
Best Cayuga: Lucas Vineyards 2013 Cayuga White
Best Traminette: Thirsty Owl Wine Co. 2013 Traminette
Best Vidal: Swedish Hill Winery 2013 Vidal Blanc
Best Vignoles: Anthony Road Wine Company 2013 Vignoles
Best Cold Climate White Varietal: Tug Hill Vineyards 2013 LaCrescent, Estate Grown
Best Hybrid White: Lucas Vineyards 2013 Harbor Moon
Best Niagara: Lucas Vineyards Miss Behavin
Best Vinifera Rose: Anthony Road Wine Company 2013 Rosé of Cabernet Franc
Best Catawba: Woodbury Vineyards Foxy Blush Renard
Best Native Blush: 21 Brix Winery Thirsty Elephant
Best Cabernet Sauvignon: Brotherhood Winery 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon
Best Merlot: Osprey’s Dominion Vineyard 2010 Reserve Merlot
Best Pinot Noir: Ventosa Vineyards 2010 Pinot Noir
Best Cabernet Franc: Macari Vineyards & Winery 2010 Cabernet Franc
Best Lemberger: Inspire Moore Winery & Vineyard 2012 Change
Best Syrah: Billsboro Winery 2012 Syrah
Best Other Red Vinifera Varietal: Fulkerson Winery 2013 William Vigne Dry Zwiegelt
Best Vinifera Red: Harbes Vineyard 2012 Red Blend
Best Vinifera/Hybrid Red: Buttonwood Grove Winery Redbud
Best Other Red French-American Varietal: Johnson Estate Winery 2012 Chambourcin, Estate Grown
Best Cold Climate Red Varietal: Thousand Islands Winery 2012 Frontenac
Best Hybrid Red: Lakewood Vineyards 2013 Long Stem Red
Best Concord: 21 Brix Winery Ella’s Red
Best Fruit Wine: King Ferry Winery 2013 Apple Mystique
Best Cider: Kaneb Orchards 2014 St. Lawrence Cider
Best Spirit: Hidden Marsh Distillery Judd’s Wreckin Ball Corn Whiskey
Best Ice Wine: Idol Ridge Winery 2014 Vidal Blanc Ice Wine
Best Vinifera Sparkling White: Sparkling Pointe Vineyards & Winery 2005 Brut Seduction, Methode Champenoise