Tag Archives: Philip Palmedo

Announcing my new book: The Wines of Long Island, 3rd edition

I’ve been working on my book, The Wines of Long Island, for over four years now. I submitted it to two different New York academic publishers, but they looked at it and decided that it was too expensive to produce to make a profit. Well, it’s too expensive for me to produce, but I’m going ahead anyway, self-publishing under the imprint Rivers Run By Press. I now have a design for the book cover. The book layout is now being worked on and I intend to have the book printed and for sale this coming summer, perhaps as early as June.

The Wines of Long Island was originally published in 1987 and a second, revised edition was issued in 2000.  19 years later, it remains the best and most complete single volume on the history, geography, viniculture, winemaking, and the wineries of Long Island.  It was carefully researched and quite well written by Ed Beltrami and Phil Palmedo. Ed is a professor of applied mathematics at Stony Brook, and Phil is a physicist and art historian.  Their love of wine and the growth of the industry in the East End led them to write their book. Alas, today it is also seriously out of date.  In the 19 intervening years a very great deal of change has taken place in the wine industry of the region.

In 2000 there were 25 wineries and vineyards, about half of which are no longer in business; in 2018 there are about 70, including several wine brands that have no winery or vineyard as such.  A handful of the wineries are not even in the East End, but are elsewhere in Suffolk County and two are in Brooklyn.

Back then there was no facility for producers that had no winery facilities; today there is a custom crush facility, Premium Wine Group, which makes wine for about 20 clients that provide fruit to be made into wine.

In 2000 the issue of sustainability was scarcely on the radar; today, sustainable winegrowing is a major issue worldwide, and a new entity, the Long Island Sustainable Winegrowers association, is providing independent certification for members. The first wine made from organically-certified grapes was produced last year.

Long Island wine country has become a major tourist destination, counting about 1.3 million visitors a year, and most wineries provide not only wine-tasting facilities, but also weekend entertainment during the high season.  Many of them also host events, dinners, and weddings.

The next edition of The Wines of Long Island needs to provide all this new information as well as updates to the history of the region in a new edition.  This extensively revised and updated edition would become the principal reference and guide for the wines of Long Island.  It could be sold in local Long Island bookstores, wine retailers, tasting rooms, hotels, inns, and B&Bs, and at the wineries themselves, not to speak of availability on Amazon.com and the Barnes & Noble’s Website.

The 2nd edition ran to 133 pages, many of them with black-and-white illustrations, plus 16 pages of full-color images.  It included a Preface, 4 Chapters, Bibliography, Index, and Map.  The book that I propose would run about 240 pages, with, generally, the same organization as the 2nd edition except for the addition of a separate Introduction, a foreword by Louisa Hargrave, and an expanded section on terroir.  Most of the 127 illustrations will be in color.

At present, only a handful of books are currently available on Amazon that focus on the Long Island wine world:

  • This book’s 2nd edition is still available occasionally, used, in print format on Amazon.com.
  • Louisa Thomas Hargrave, The Vineyard: The Pleasures and Perils of Creating an American Family Winery, Viking, 2003.
  • John Ross, The Story of North Fork Wine: Historic Profiles and Wine Country Recipes, Maple Hill Press, 2009
  • Jane Taylor Starwood, Long Island Wine Country: Award-Winning Vineyards of The North Fork And The Hamptons, Globe Pequot Press, 2009.
  • Eileen Duffy, ed., Time to Toast: Wines that capture 40 years of Long Island Wine Country, Kindle edition only, Jan. 2014.
  • Eileen Duffy, Behind the Bottle: The Rise of Wine on Long Island, Cider Mill Press, April 2015.

None of the books listed above attempts to cover the wine world of Long Island as comprehensively as does the new, revised edition, particularly given its thorough coverage of the history, geography, viniculture and sustainability, the last of which is a matter of major importance in LI, as it has a single-source aquifer.  Sustainability is also of major interest to wine drinkers around the world, as people now look for wines that are certified as produced from sustainable, organic, or even biodynamically-grown grapes.

Guide books to Long Island that mention wineries as part of an itinerary:

  • Jason Rich, Insider’s Guide to Long Island, 2010, with 12 pages devoted to the wineries and tasting rooms of LI.
  • Steven Howell, Great Escapes: Long Island, 2010, with 8 pages on LI wine.
  • Silvia Lehrer, Savoring the Hamptons: Discovering the Food and Wine of Long Island’s East End, 2011, includes brief pieces on 12 selected wineries and their wines.

Other books that cover wineries on the East Coast, but where LI is not the sole focus:

  • Carlo de Vito, East Coast Wines: A Complete Guide from Maine to Virginia, Rutgers University Press, 2004
  • Marguerite Thomas, Touring East Coast Wine Country: A Guide to the Finest Wineries, Berkshire House Publishers, 1996 (last printed in 2002)
  • Richard Figiel, Circle of Vines: The Story of New York Wines, Excelsior Editions, 2014
  • Food & Wine’s Wine Guide: America’s 500 Best Wine Producers, 2015 cites ten LI wineries.

And there you have the back story.

Books about Long Island Wine

Now that a new book on Long Island wine by Eileen Duffy has been published as of April 2015, it seems appropriate to review all of the books on the subject that have come out since 2000.  These are presented in order of publication:

The Wines of Long IslandVital–thanks to its clear, lucid writing and very useful history and background of the region’s viniculture and winemaking–is the excellent if outdated Wines of Long Island, 2nd edition (2000) by Edward Beltrami & Philip E. Palmedo.  It includes profiles of many of the most important personalities in the LI wine world (as of 2000), descriptions and reviews of wineries and their wines and a generally judicious insight into the trends and achievements of the region as of the end of the 20th Century.  Definitely worthwhile owning, if you love LI wines, though it has long been out of print.  It is still available through Amazon.  (NOTE:  It is currently being brought up to date by this writer, with elements from the series on Long Island viniculture and wine in this blog being incorporated into the book.  It is expected that the 3rd edition, to be published by SUNY Press, may be out by September 2017.)

Hargrave, The Vineyard, coverLouisa Thomas Hargrave wrote a gracious memoir, The Vineyard: The Pleasures and Perils of Creating an American Family Winery (2002). One cannot begin to understand what was involved in creating the Long Island wine industry without reading this charming and touching account of the establishment of Long Island’s first winery, Hargrave Vineyard, in 1973, when there were only small farms and potato fields. It is charming in its modesty, touching in its honesty, and a remarkable tale of what it takes to start a vineyard from scratch when you don’t even know what you’re doing! And look at what it started–a whole industry that is one of the dominant features of the East End of Long Island, begun with passion, commitment, and hard work, but ultimately at the cost of heartbreak and renewal.  Now out of print, it is still available on Amazon or AbeBooks.  Some used copies are available for a penny plus shipping from various book dealers.

Ross, NoFo Wine, coverAn interesting and somewhat chatty book is The Story of North Fork Wine: Historical Profiles and Wine Country Recipes (2009), John Ross’s up-close-and-personal look at the people who work in and run the wineries.  A chef who owned Ross’s North Fork Restaurant, he became close to many in the wine trade, especially given that he was interested in devising recipes and menus that would best accompany the wines of the region.  The first half of the book is comprised by his personal profiles, which include everyone from owners to winemakers to vineyard managers to tasting room personnel.  The second half is devoted to recipes from his restaurant and suggested wine pairings.  In the intervening years since the book was published many of the persons featured in the book have moved on, but many of their stories remain relevant even now.  Also out of print, but it can be found on Amazon.com.

Starwood, Vineyards, coverLong Island Wine Country:  Award-Winning Vineyards of the North Fork and the Hamptons, is well-illustrated guide to visiting Long Island vineyards and wineries.  Written by Jane Taylor Starwood, editor-in-chief of Long Island Wine Press, she gives us an insider’s track on the owners, the winemakers, and the wineries themselves.  In a conversational tone (and amply illustrated), the book leads the reader from East to West on the North Fork, and then down to the Hamptons, as though the route would be followed by visitors travelling by car. It’s a bit frustrating an approach if one wants to do research and would prefer an alphabetical organization, but it’s a quibble given the overall quality and usefulness of the book, which is still reasonably up-to-date as of 2015, given that it was published in 2009. One should bear in mind though, that already important personnel changes have taken place: Richard Olsen Harbich left Raphael in 2010 and went to Bedell Cellars, Anthony Nappa is now Raphael’s vintner, Kelly Urbanik Koch is winemaker at Macari, and Zander Hargrave, who was assistant winemaker at Peconic Bay Vineyards, is now at Pellegrini; Peconic Bay has closed its doors.  A new, major winery, Kontokosta Vineyards, opened in June 2013 in Greenport; Southold Farm and Corwith Vineyard are brand-new startups as of 2014.

Duffy, Behind the Bottle, coverThe most recent contribution to the story of Long Island wines is Eileen Duffy’s book, Behind the Bottle:  The Story of the Rise of Long Island Wine (2015).  This is a book that focuses on the winemakers and their wines.   In fact, the conversations that Duffy had with the winemakers as they discussed their wines in considerable depth, give the reader the clearest sense possible of what the winemakers look for and try to achieve with their wines.  It makes for fascinating reading.  Unlike John Ross, who tried to include anyone whom he knew that was in the business, Duffy’s book includes interviews with just 16 of the region’s winemakers, including Louisa Hargrave, who still has a few bottles of her 1993 Cabernet Franc, still aging, still drinkable, and from a very great year for Long Island.  My favorite conversations, due to the great detail with which the winemakers discussed their craft, include one with Roman Roth, who talks about his 2008 Merlot as though he were painting a portrait of a lover.