Oh My Dear Paumanok

Winery and Vineyard Experience and Analysis

Benjamin Mendoza III

New York City College of Technology

HGMT 2402.7443

Wine and Beverage Management

Professor Karen Goodlad, CSW

Oh My Dear Paumanok

Picking the vineyard and winery to visit was not that difficult as my first source is known to always have an opinion of the must see places regarding any genre.  The New York Times article “Wineries’ Golden Haul” starts with Paumanok Vineyards and that was the main reason I picked them.  After speaking with one of the sons of the owner, at the time unbeknownst to me, the deal was booked for a proprietor tour for Friday, May 3rd, 2013.  Kareem kindly offered us a guided tour with winetasting by my heart was set on meeting the owner and helping out a local vineyard.  The day for the tour came and onward I went with Jennifer Cortez, Ginnette Castillo, and my girlfriend.  We all met up at Flushing, NY on Main Street and precede seventy plus miles on the Long Island Expressway followed by Old Country Road to Main Road and our final destination.  Our mission, should we choose to accept it, was to investigate the vineyard and its staff on wine and knowledge there of such things related to wine.  Is Paumanok Vineyards chance of validity as a world-renowned vineyard a reality or is it just smoke signals sent from an old Native American named business?

Paumanok Vineyards is a family-owned operation.  Ursula Massoud was our proprietor tour guide and was very helpful with her information.  She is the granddaughter of a vintner hailing from the Pfalz region in southern Germany along the French border from her mother’s side of the family.  Ursula touts approximately 450 years of winemaking experienced blood running through her veins with a degree from Chestnut Hill College to boot (April Wine Dinner).  You can find her on LinkedIn and the Paumanok Vineyards Facebook page.

Her husband, Charles Massoud, grew up in Lebanon and studied in Paris until he came to Philadelphia where he graduated with his MBA from the Wharton School.  After some time in the Middle East, he returned to the U.S. and with importing in his blood, IBM, marketing, and Ursula by his side his adventure into the now North Fork AVA began approximately thirty years ago (April Wine Dinner).  He does speeches and is also on LinkedIn, as well as, Facebook and Forbes.com.

They had three sons who all work at the vineyard.  Salim Massoud works on the vineyard helping out and dealing with the day to day issues and seems to be the most private of the brothers or so his Facebook shows.  Nabeel Massoud has been working on the vineyard since 2002 and is the Manager of the establishment.  He studied at Sterling College in Vermont and is on Facebook.  Kareem Massoud comes across as the spokesmen and winemaker of the vineyard and has his named mention with everything dealing with the vineyard.  He personally took my call and booked our tour.  You can also find interviews of his on YouTube and numerous articles talking about viniculture and innovative sciences that are helping vineyards like solar panels.  The three sons are all over social media and anything that has to do with the vineyard which makes their parents very happy and proud.

The vineyard was a potato farm until 1983 when Charles and Ursula bought the farm and began converting it.  The name was taken from a Walt Whitman poem which was part of Ursula’s studies of Native Americans in a college course (Starting From Paumanok).  It is comprised of several small barn-like buildings that contain the winery, green grass event space, a patio with tables seats, tasting area with a bar set-up, and a beautiful gravel driveway with signage promoting Paumanok all over the place.  It is very intimate and home-like, the way a family-owned business should be.

During the tour much was said about the soil.  In the North Fork Region due to glaciers the soil is much like that of Oregon which is sandy and absorbent.  Ursula says, “What makes the soil so special is that it is a well-draining soil and this prevents flood pockets.”  The climate was also valued as Ursula mentions, “The micro-climate is suitable for growing grapes of a European variety, which helps the soil retain heat in the winter.  She talks about the change of seasons and implies that, “During the growing and harvesting seasons the cool grape growing maritime helps especially with their red wines that have many similarities to Bordeaux’s.”  She finishes with, “The grapes are happy here.” We were able to witness an early bud break which Kareem explains, “Is not a bad thing generally unless there is a frost.  He continues by saying, “Not all is lost if this occurs because a new batch will grow but the quality will suffer.”  Ursula quotes her husband by saying, “Charles always says that the most important and unpredictable partner is Mother Nature.”  She adds, “That in the beginning they didn’t know what they were doing” and again quoted her husband by saying, “We made a lot of bad wine back then.”  In particular she recalls a 1989 fermented Chardonnay and an article about it in the Wall Street Journal.

I must admit that the location of the vineyard seems like prime real estate.  Located on 1074 Main Road in Aquebogue, NY or as us Brooklynites like to call it “the middle of nowhere”, even Ursula herself was taken-back by how far from the city the vineyard was back in 1983 and remembers when she said, “These people must be crazy, to want to grow grapes out here” back around 1978 when it was first suggest.  Nonetheless thirty years after purchasing the land and expanding on the property Paumanok Vineyards is on the rise as well as the North Fork AVA.

In 2009, solar panels came on to the property (Paumanok Vineyards: Going Solar, 2009).  The barn has been renovated many times and expanded upon but the newest technological innovations are the weather station and solar panels on winery.  These items help the vineyard tremendously.  In a video, Hakeem gives mention to the future possibility of the vineyard becoming a self-sustaining business in part to the funding provided for the solar panels.

The grapes are grown within view of first stepping into the property.  The vitis vinifera species is grown on the vineyard and through their viniculture produces some of the most aromatic Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, the only producer of Chenin Blanc in the region, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot that I have ever had the pleasure of smelling.

Kareem’s approach to agriculture comes with some hand picking, as well as, harvesting machines that are used to safely remove the grapes.  During harvest nets are used to protect the grapes from being poached by birds.  Noble rot is not preferred but if a substantial amount is available to be controlled then a late harvest will be done making the grapes extra sweet.  Ursula mentions that, “Sometime after the bud break stage some vines are cut off to control the amount of grapes and help produce a superior batch.”

In their vinification practices they mostly stainless steel tanks are used, but sometimes oaked barrels are used as well in particular for the oaked Chardonnay and red blend.  At first the grapes where sent to another location to become wine and brought back bottled, but after a couple of expansions the wine is made right on the property.  No product is ever bottled out of oak which helps with Paumanok’s unique clean and crisp taste.  Ursula pointed that out as we made our way to the winery and pasted the huge stainless steel presser and oaked barrels which cost about $800 each.  She says, “No wine is bottled without a hose, to keep out as much unwanted contamination as possible.  After the wines are bottled they have to be labeled and with the recent support of New York restaurants, Paumanok reportedly makes anywhere from one to five million dollars.  They even go the extra mile for clients by placing personalized labels for establishments that wish to have that extra bit of flair.  The bottles are shipped to over five hundred different distributors in the Tri-State area, five places in Chicago, and one in Aruba (Paumanok.com).  The bottles are also known for their screw caps which Ursula says, “They prevent corking and keep the wine fresh for longer.”

The knowledge of tasting room personnel was exceptional.  It was mostly slow and then around three o’clock people came out of nowhere.  With their short staff things got very busy, but their hospitality techniques and knowledge of their product was flawless.  We had the distinct pleasure of having Ursula pour us the wine.  Her pouring technique had us amazed as she never dripped the wine until seventh bottle was poured.  We tasted nine wines in total as a group; I was able to taste the Vin Rose because I was buying it.  At first, I just wanted the bottle from the description the cashier/wine server gave, but before I could get my credit card out, an ounce was already poured and it tasted like a sweeter version of the Dry Rose.  There is also a ton of material related to the wine indoor were we sat, but the patio was also a very charming place to drink wine.

The friendly, easy going, very scenic, easy to navigate, hard to miss environment is a great change from the city and suits those who look to get away from city life very well.  The only weakness I see is that with Generation X aging and the Millennial’s picking up on the trends of their predecessors, the vineyard may have a problem with what I believe will be an explosion of wine drinkers from New York, if just one local celebrity picks up one of Paumanok’s great wines.  I can easily see Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter supporting this winery and with his influence and maturity, tsunami-like wave of people would swing by the vineyard.  As these two generations age, the vineyard is going to seriously have to think about expanding its visiting grounds and having access control measures in place something I would enjoy being a part of maybe someday in the future.

After all was said and done, our trip to the winery answered many questions and left us wondering about the future of the vineyard as bigger predicted demands of wine occur.  One thing for sure is that the Massoud family, one of the original twelve grape farmers of the North Fork AVA and one of the last three remaining original owners, seems in great and capable hands as the business is passing down a generation and hopefully many more to come.  Paumanok Vineyards has made a long journey from the 1983 purchase, to their first wine in 1989 and official debut in 1993, but are they world-renowned?  Well according to a book one of the bottles is a must drink before dying and reads, “…the greatest wines of Long Island are consistently the Paumanok Grand Vintage Cabernet Sauvignons (1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die).”  Quite frankly, I do not see a ceiling for the vineyard as of yet and I do not think there ever will be one.  They continue win acclaim and competitions like the New York Food and Wine Classic (Wineries’ Golden Haul).  My experience was amazing and if this is the level of service and quality wine to be maintained; they should have no problem becoming world renowned and recognized in both the old and new world of wines. Pictures of my experience can be found on YouTube at http://youtu.be/fbWURh-9Rzk.


Works Cited

April Wine Dinner. (2012). Retrieved May 7, 2013, from M.I.T. Alumni Association: http://longisland.alumclub.mit.edu/s/1314/clubs-classes-interior.aspx?sid=1314&gid=192&pgid=7578&cid=14436&ecid=14436&ciid=29490&crid=0

Beckett, N. (2008). 1001 Wines You Must Taste Before You Die. (N. Beckett, & J. Gaudet, Eds.) New York, New York, United States of America: Universe Publishing. Retrieved May 8, 2013, from http://www.amazon.com/1001-Wines-Must-Taste-Before/dp/0789316838

Goldberg, H. G. (2012, August 26). Wineries’ Golden Haul. New York Times, L19. Retrieved May 7, 2013, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/26/nyregion/long-island-wines-win-prizes-at-ny-wine-and-food-classic.html?_r=1&

Massoud, K. (2009, October 22). Paumanok Vineyards: Going Solar. (E. Schultz, Interviewer) YouTube. STimesNews, New York. Retrieved May 7, 2013, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MW8T5TzQ5g8

Paumanok.com, 2013. (n.d.). Retrieved May 5, 2013, from Paumanok: www.paumanok.com

Whitman, W. (2007). Starting From Paumanok. In W. Whitman, Leaves of Grass (First Edition ed.). Radford, Virginia, United States of America: Wilder Publications. Retrieved May 7, 2013

Central Coast AVA

Located in California, U.S.A.

Established in 1985

Amended in 1999 and 2006

American Viticulture Area (AVA)

AVA Sub-regions

Arroyo Grande Valley AVA

Arroyo Seco AVA

Carmel Valley AVA

Chalone AVA

Cienega Valley AVA

Edna Valley AVA

Hames Valley AVA

Lime Kiln Valley AVA

Livermore Valley AVA

Monterey AVA

Mt. Harlan AVA

Pacheco Pass AVA

Paicines AVA

Paso Robles AVA

San Antonio Valley AVA

San Benito AVA

San Bernabe AVA

San Francisco Bay AVA

San Lucas AVA

San Ysidro District AVA

Santa Clara Valley AVA

Santa Lucia Highlands AVA

Santa Maria Valley AVA

Santa Ynez Valley AVA

Sta. Rita Hills AVA

York Mountain AVA

Counties not required to register with Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau

Contra Costa County

Monterey County

San Luis Obispo County

Santa Barbara County

Santa Clara County

Santa Cruz County


Come visit the Central Cost, see and taste our Pinot Noir today…

Cesar Chavez

86 years old

Born in March 31st, 1927

Born in Gila River Valley, Yuma, Arizona

Lives in San Luis, Arizona

Founder of the National Farm Workers Association (UFW)










A Journey to Wine Heaven by BM3

A Journey to Wine Heaven

Retail Wine Shop Analysis

Benjamin Mendoza III

New York City College of Technology





A Journey to Wine Heaven

On a Friday full of reports, studying, and laundry my friends called me to tell me that I should ditch my choirs and drive around with them.  Me, being the ever faithful hardworking student jumped into my car to pick them up.  After everyone was accounted for we decide to go to a Minado Sushi Buffet in Long Island.  We get there at four o’clock only to find out that the sushi buffet was closed until six o’clock.  We all sighed and started to mope back to the car with rumbling stomachs.  When we get to our car which was in the middle of a parking lot shopping center my classmate Jennifer Cortez saw Stew Leonard’s.  Stew Leonard’s is an importer, distributor, wholesaler of wines and spirits.  At that very moment I already knew what she was going to say.  After much clawing and dragging she convinced me that I should now be the ever faithful hardworking student and head into this store to do the unconceivable, homework.

As we strolled in the store, the first thing I noticed was that it looked like a warehouse.  One of the benefits of this layout is that it is easy to walk around, however the drawback of this format was that a person can easily miss out on great deal.  The strength of the store’s layout is that if you know what you are looking for you can find it with ease; though its major flaw is that it is not friendly to clumsy people and simple to lose products via theft or misplacement.

The store has the most customer friendly layout I have ever seen.  With all the easy to read signage that contained accurate descriptions of what is in the wine, how it will taste, year, location, and law code (when required) make picking the right wine straightforward, even for a novice.  The store’s highlights regions like Italy, France, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Australia, Germany, the U.S., and even local New York wines, with sub-sections like fine wines, house wines, dessert wines, and magnums spread about.

The regions are well organized and easily identified, found mostly by flag and some signage for smaller regions.  Starting with Italy, the breakdown of this region was into three groups; the main regions of Tuscany and Piedmont with an additional section for the rest.  With its Italian flag over the wines this was a good starting point, as it is placed at the front of the store.  France is located is the most divided section with shelves dedicated to five regions.  South of France being the biggest, Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhône, and Loire, as well as, outlaying wines around those sections for the rest make-up the majority of French wines.  The only region of France not in this section is Champagne.  All of the champagnes and sparkling wines are next to each other by the Fine Wines Room.  The fine, or expensive, wines are place in a separate room that is heavily monitored and protected with some of the bottles having waxed tops (they felt so good to touch) and tamper devices that make it difficult to steal them.  Spanish wines are all located next to each other hosting Argentina as the most abundant with Chilean, Portuguese and Spanish wines close by.  All of these regions except Portugal are represented by their flags.  The U.S. is split up into different wines sections such as Sauvignon Cabernet, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, Syrah, Red Blends, and my favorite section ABC (Anything But Chardonnay). Most of the U.S. wines come from California and Washington, but a few local New York wines make their way on to the scene and often steal the show on their own shelf.  Australia has a small section that touts some attention with its flag above it with New Zealand nearby on its own dedicated shelf.  Unfortunately, my favorite wine region, Germany has the smallest section, but is pretty respectable with its selection of Riesling and Spätburgunder.  The dessert wines section contains everything from Sake to Ice wine on its very own shelf.  Last but not least the magnums are in a corner by fine wines and the house and boxed wines are places very close to the entrance with prices from five dollars to forty dollars, (Hello, Yellowtail!).

Their variety of wine is quite overwhelming at first, but once you get settled in the only word to describe it is heaven.  Even with my modest understanding of wine, there was quite a lot of knowledge floating about, eager to be absorbed.  Mind you, I was only looking for things I knew but when I left the store it was with a collection that touts a Dalwhinnie (Highland Scotch), Cozio Amaretto (Cordial), Hypnotiq (Blended Cognac/Vodka), Villa Antinori (IGT, Super Tuscan), an Avignonesi (DOCG, 100% Sangiovese), a Cinzano Asti (Sparkling Wine), Fritz Windisch (Pradikatswein Auslese Riesling), an Affentaler Valley of the Monkey (Qualitswein Spätburgunder), a Luigi Bosca Reserva (Argentina, Mendoza, Maipú, Syrah), Catena (Argentina, Mendoza, Malbec), Alta Vista Premium (Argentina, Mendoza, Torrentes), Piper-Heidsieck (Semi-Dec Champagne, not from Champagne), a Wagner (Ice Wine, Riesling), and a boxed wine that holds four times the amount of a regular bottle, in less the space, by Wineberry holding Chateau Real Martin Perl De Rosé.  All of the above wines were given a stamp of approval by the staff, as they take their selection of wine to heart.  They not only know the product, they buy it as well and have tasting sessions when new product comes in.

The demeanor of sales assistants on the floor was very friendly and knowledgeable.  The store manager, Luigi Amato, also works the floor and is very good at informing his staff of trends and wine knowledge.  He is also the leading product salesman.  The staff follows his lead and takes part in any and all discussions on the floor.  If an associate does not know something, they ask Luigi and he almost always has an answer.  Customers are treated like family by associates like Davin; and the cashiers are friendly and helpful, even getting you boxes for your large purchases or nets for your smaller purchases.

With a wide price range on all alcohols ranging from four dollars to $2,300, shoppers of all kinds can come and enjoy their selection.  The wines range from four dollars to $800, but you can order more pricey wines through their catalog.  Most of the wines that are $500 and up are from Bordeaux and are in the Fine Wines Room.  The mean price of wines in this section is about $125.

The store also hosts a variety of added benefits such as upon checkout everyone is offered an opportunity to join the Stew Leonard’s email/mailing list which will get you a catalog with coupons of up to ten percent off your purchase.  Being on the list also keeps you informed of wine tasting events.  For example, on Saturday, April 13th an event hosting a taste of over 200 wines was held in the store.  Correspondingly, the store has restrooms which are helpful for the big tasting events.  When there are no grand events, they host smaller daily tastings of favorites from the staff and products that are recommended from their wineries.

Now comes my only complaint or should I say recommendation of improvement.  I would suggest is to have some Eiswein on stock.  The lack of German Eiswein was a turn off at first, but the staff swiftly suggested a replacement in the dessert wine section from Wagner Vineyards of Finger Lakes, N.Y.  They also offered to order anything I wanted, even by case; so I could get my Eiswein, but I would have to wait which is a disappointment for obvious reasons.

The store left me with a feeling of safety, even though the store is open with an easy exit not designed to prevent theft.  At first, from a security standpoint that was a problem for me, but there were cameras everywhere, as well as, closed display cases of expensive and popular items.  I was impressed by the overall security and tamper bottle top covers that help prevent theft in the Fine Wines Room.  With one of those devices on, even if someone was able to steal one of those bottles, they would end up breaking the neck of the bottle which would defeat the purpose of stealing a $250 Bordeaux.

With a family-like environment, the place is operated wonderfully by Luigi and his staff.  This setting spills onto the customers, who are also very friendly and helpful as well making it a delightful place to shop.  Most of the customers repeat the same advice given to them by staff, so if you here the same thing multiple times, you know why.  I definitely give Stew Leonard’s two thumbs up and had I known it was a franchise I would have visited a closer one since Carle Place, N.Y. is a bit far off, but if you have the time I would suggest going to see Luigi and his staff, especially during a wine tasting.  You can find Luigi, Davin, or anyone else on staff at 221 Glen Cove Road, Carle Place, NY 11514 and they can be reached at (516) 742-2588.  The store has been opened for two years and is quite successful. Thanks to the spirits, and the company I had, it was an overall positive experience and I’ll be head back once I have depleted my collection.  Pictures will be posted on YouTube for viewing at http://youtu.be/R7tCturguV8.  I must say that my professor was right; being a student of wine has its advantages and this was one of them.  By the way the sushi buffet was delicious and if you want to try out their sister buffet, Nori Nori, in Flushing; I would not object.

Washington (White)

Soil: Sandy

Grape: Chardonnay, notable Riesling

Climate: Mostly Temperate & Dry in the mountains irrigation is needed due to the 6 to 8 inches of rain fall; but can be Cool & Damp in the land under the clouds

Regions:  Puget Sound AVA – Has white wines that are often compared to Bordeaux.  With unknown grape varieties such as Madeleine Angevine and Müller-Thurgau.  Benefit of Dry climate and sandy soil helps winemakers avoid phylloxera. 

Historical Figures:  One of the earliest recorded plantings in the Puget Sound area was done in 1872 by an American Civil War veteran named Lambert Evans on Stretch Island, near modern day Allyn-Grapeview. Evan planted several varieties of Vitis labrusca there.

T. Parker Discovering Washington Wines pg 7 Raconteurs Press 2002

Ron Irvine was the first person to bring Pinot Noir in the region.  http://washingtonwine.org/25/profiles/ron-irvine