June 28, 2006
Occupation: Owner, vineyard 48 in Cutchogue
I think the North Fork is a hidden jewel.
People from the rest of Long Island and the tri-state area don't need to travel very far to taste Napa Valley in their own backyard. But as Rodney Dangerfield said, "We get no respect." Because once you're off of the North Fork, LI wine is a hard sell. When you travel beyond the East End you find restaurants that carry plenty of Italian, French and California wines, but hardly any Long Island ones.
What disappoints me is that the quality of North and South Fork wines is just as good or even better than those regions, and I feel the rest of N.Y. State, including the five boroughs, should be more supportive of East End wines. There are some who do, but far more don't. So I think there should be a state law that enforces restaurant owners in the N.Y. area to carry at least one N.Y.-made wine. If not, I wish the restaurant owners would be more open minded and allow us the opportunity to prove the quality of Long Island wines.
In March, the Wine Spectator published an article on LI wines that bolstered the area's wine region by showing that fine quality wines are being produced on the North Fork.
We have two big restaurateurs that support LI wine, Tom Schaudel and Todd Jacobs. They both own L.I. restaurants and carry many L.I. wines, and both have committed to supporting the area as well as many other local proprietors.
My biggest concern is as the wine industry grows, so will the traffic. Would we be able to handle the traffic increase? The previous owners of Vineyard 48 told me that 20 years ago you were lucky to have one car pass every 20 minutes on Rt. 48 — now it seems to be like a major highway. With more and more people coming out here, the town should either install more stop signs, traffic lights or reduce the speed limit.
The most dangerous spot that I know of is the corner of Depot Lane and Rt. 48. And in the three years I've been here, I've personally seen a handful of accidents due to the blind spot I myself have even experienced, nearing an accident. I hope someone doesn't have to die before the town addresses the problem and institutes a change. And with the population growing out here they should definitely do something about it.
I must say it's been a lot of hard work over the last three years, but my experience as a new vineyard owner has been a pleasant one. And I believe we've begun turning out a fine quality product. People like coming out to our vineyard because there's a family atmosphere. Not only do we treat our customers like family, but you'll find the same standards from other vineyards and wineries across the North and South Fork. The people out here have been fantastic and all we've gotten is well wishes from everyone. And we want to thank everyone for their support. And I hope in the future that many more people will experience the wonderful atmosphere and wines that the North Fork has to offer.
If you live or work in the North Fork area and want to give us a piece of your mind about something, let The Independent Traveler Watchman know by contacting Rick at 324-2500 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll pass it along to R. B. Stuart.