“Buy whatever you need to buy and do whatever you have to do to make the best wine on Long Island.” That was in the spring of 1992.

“First rule of thumb in the wine business is to be authentic to the region,” said Roman.

“Wolffer is in a unique position because it are a boutique winery and able to reach most of their customers personally. As a result it can make a more distinctive wine than the more commercial wineries and have the ability to make a more rustic or traditional wine despite being in the New World. What sets it apart is it’s red and it’s barrel-fermented Perle Chardonnay,” he continued. For Roman, “a great wine should be concentrated and elegant. The varieties that inspired Wolffer Estate wines are the grapes originating from France, which basically consist of the classic Burgundy and Bordeaux.”

The North and South Forks of Long Island boast several full-fledged wineries, as improved production techniques and friendly weather have led to consecutive years of excellent grape production, and the vineyards are now yielding mature vines. Long Island wines have come of age and are receiving well-deserved press in major publications.

    While most of the vineyards are on the North Fork, the South Fork certainly holds its own. A visit to Wolffer’s stylish Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack is magical. As you’ll see below in this month’s featured vintner column, the saffron-colored, European-style building, housing state-of-the-art technology is surrounded by fifty acres of gently rolling hills.

       Below we offer a brief introduction to some of my favorite wineries on the North and South Forks. Most are family-owned, and all are special places that celebrate the best of what the earth and the people of the East End can create.

Savoring the Hamptons


The Best of the Hamptons

   Wineries & Vintners


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Bedell Cellars Winery

Channing Daughters Winery

Grapes of Roth

Lenz Winery

Lieb Family Cellars

Macari Vineyard

Paumanok Vineyard

Peconic Bay Winery

Pelligrini Vineyards

Shinn Estate Vineyards

Wolffer Estate Vineyards

One of the greatest benefits to winemaking is the soil. Wolffer’s distinction is that the Merlot and Cabernet Franc grapes love the Bridgehampton soil. The winery is 2.6 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, which provides a moderating sea breeze, another huge advantage.

The weather of course could present a challenge; it has to be mastered in order to succeed. “One must be flexible to be in tune with the weather and to be able to react,” says Roman. “Basically, it’s a costly venture.” He continued, “Long Island is the last area in New York State to get a frost because of the ocean, and snow can be positive thing. It insulates. If the region experiences heavy rain in the summer, it is less of a problem then in fall. The winemaker must be flexible to making more concentrated wines and adjust the style of wine. If the rain is excessive, you can still make nice wines; they are just not the wines you can age for twenty or thirty years. Expensive labor, of course is another challenge—housing and land is very costly on Long Island.”

“Long Island is so unique and special as compared to other areas of the United States when it comes to wine,” said Roman. “It’s set up to show individuality,” and then he quoted the wine writer Peter Sichel:  “It takes great location, great soil, great climate, money and skill—also pride and passion to make great wines.”

The entire team at Wolffer takes pride in the wine and brings individuality to the process. The setting is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque in the Hamptons. The Saffron-hued Tuscan-style mansion at Christian Wolffer’s Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack sits majestically on fifty rolling acres of vineyard. In addition to producing some of the areas finest and award-winning wines, Wolffer Estate holds special wine tasting musical events throughout the year. Their Twilight Thursdays and Sunset Fridays are held from Memorial Day to October, and Candlelight Fridays in the tasting room begin in the fall. These evenings are a social Mecca of wine, cheese, and conviviality. The winery hosts weddings and private events throughout the year as well.

Christian Wolffer set the standard and direction for the winery, which is a tribute to his vision. Christian Wolffer’s died December 31, 2008, and his influence will be greatly missed at Wolffer Estates and in the Hamptons.

“Long Island is so unique and special as compared to other areas of the United States when it comes to wine. It’s set up to show individuality.”

Wineries & Vintners

Featured Vintner: Roman Roth of Wolffer Estates

Photo by Karen Wise

Photos by Karen Wise

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As a young man in Rottweil, Germany, a region in the vicinity of the Black Forest, Roman fantasized about the creative part of the wine business. After completing an apprenticeship at the Kaiserstuhl, a wine region in Boden, he ran into a gentleman named Christian Wolffer.

          Wolffer was looking for a winemaker, someone who understood his vision for what a world-class Long Island winery could be. Christian’s words to Roman were persuasive: “Buy whatever you need to buy, do whatever you have to do to make the best wine on Long Island.”