Wolffer Estate

It was few days after it started to get cold when I made a trip to Wolffer Estate Vineyard, Sapagonack, New York. It took about two hours from the city. Movie bottle shock was playing in the bus. It is very touching story, but I only have tasted their Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 vintage. It is my first love and it had good enough impact to pull me into the wine industry.
When we got there, a lady was waiting to guide my group. She first took us to the vineyard. She said that the vineyard grows Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Chardonnay and started to grow Trebbiano from 2010. She said that they started with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot in 1974. It seemed to be a bit too cold to grow thick skinned grape but she said that Long Island makes great Cabernet Franc. She picked a cluster of Chardonnay and handed over to our group so that we can taste fresh grapes off the vine. She clearly and confidently mentioned that she does not practice organic farming while I was enjoying the grape. She stressed that she does not use harmful chemical so that we have no problem eating fresh grapes. IMG_5666The day we got there was only few days after most grapes were picked and few grapes were still hanging around the trees and waiting to be dessert wines. She mentioned that they hand pick their grapes.IMG_5669 Her vineyard has rich top soil and it drains very well while it holds water for long enough and then dries out. The root of vines go forty feet down. They do not need irrigation because they usually have enough rain, however, this summer was awfully dry and they had to irrigate for the first time. She also picks the leaves so that grapes are exposed to sunlight. She jokingly said that Deer ate about a ton of grapes last year and she brought nets to protect vines this year but I know that loss of grape to wild animal can be serious damage to the winery. The way she protects the grapes from deer looked very nature friendly because I know that some vineyards install electric fence or hunt deer. Grass is unusual in vineyard but Wolffer vineyard has plenty of grass around the yard.
IMG_0162They pick Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in early September for sparkling wine while the grape still have good amount of acidity and then harvest the rest in later of the month. Then she took us to winery and showed us how they make their wine.IMG_0159 Luckily I had a chance to freshly pressed Chardonnay juice. It was very high in acid and sweet. The machine was destemming Chardonay grapes very quickly. I know that some winemakers use the stems to create tannins for red wines but it was not the case since it was Chardonnay. IMG_0155

They use Tank method for their sparkling wine. The huge stainless steel tank was very cold and it formed water drops outside of it. She said that one of the job that takes some time is punching down or pumping over red wine every six hours during maceration. Red grapes for Rose does not have to be macerated.
IMG_0166Then I had a chance to look at their barrels. They buy new barrels every year. She said the first thing she does after she buys the barrel is to put water in them and check if they leak. I truthfully can not imagine how much work and time that would take. It is such a huge barrels and they have so many of them. She said that once they place the barrels, they never get moved because it is too heavy. They were designed to be in one place and she pumps in and out all the wine. They have to top off the barrels once in a while because the wine evaporates.
Then we headed to the tasting room. We had about sixteen people and it was impossible that we have seats inside the room. Instead, we decided to sit outside tables. I tasted their Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc. I can not judge tasting room personnel’s skill and knowledge because we were such a huge group for one person to serve. However, she still tried to explain how the each wine was made but the other side of the table could not hear it. It was still a great experience overall.



Master Sommelier Laura Maniec accompanied our group to the vineyard trip. She certainly put more time to study wines knows much more about them. However, who is she to judge efforts that farmers put in to plant and harvest to make great fermented grape juice. She was there and remain humble the whole time. Masters certainly understand the hard works of farmers and wine makers. In reality, it all comes down to one bottle and that is it. The bottle gets graded and price gets decided according to that many times. How about if we give stories to each bottle? How about if we think of the time the winemakers and the wine have been through and the time they waited before they show themselves. I like to appreciate the phenomenon of nature and the vineyard trip was a great chance for me to do so.


Works Cited

Oklahoma Grape Growers Deal With Deer. (2014). Retrieved October 31, 2015.
Crushing and Destemming Grapes – Winemaker’s Academy. (2012, June 30). Retrieved October 31, 2015.