L.I. Wine Country named Top 5 U.S. wine region

GIANNA VOLPE  FILEPHOTO | Workers set up bird netting on a block of cabernet franc at Macari Vineyards in Mattituck in August.

Long Island’s wine region is one of the best in the country, according to TripAdvisor’s 2012 list of the United States’ top 10 wine destinations.

Sonoma and Napa valleys in California hold the top two slots, respectively, with Long Island trailing just behind Oregon’s Willamette Valley in third place and New York’s Finger Lakes region in fourth.

“This is a great thing for the New York wine industry,” Steve Bate of the Long Island Wine Council said of New York State’s performance in the rankings. “It shows how far we’ve come as a wine region and we’ve got our stalwarts with Sonoma and Napa Valleys that will always be very popular, but I think we will definitely climb up in the rankings.”

The top 10 were chosen based on reviews and opinions from “millions of TripAdvisor travelers around at the world,” according to TripAdvisor.com travel expert Lesley Carlin. “Winners are determined based on their popularity as wine destinations, taking into account travelers’ reviews and opinions for local wineries, restaurants, attractions and accommodations,” Ms. Carlin said.

A breakdown of the list on the company’s website begins its write-up of the Long Island wine region by anticipating reader confusion.

“We know what you’re thinking,” it reads. “Wine? On Long Island? And it’s good? Yes, yes and yes.”

But some local vintners said they’re not surprised to see Long Island noted as a leading wine destination.

“Of course, we’re very happy that they’ve recognized our region, but for us it’s not news,” said Charles Massoud of Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue. “On weekends you can barely drive out here because there’s so much going on and I think it’s a testament to the quality of our wines and Long Island’s being able to support such a successful wine industry.”

Mr. Massoud said he believes there will always be detractors, whether one grows wine on Long Island or California or Bordeaux, for that matter, but added that naysayers’ attitudes don’t matter.

“What matters,” he said, “is what is happening on the ground. What matters is what the consumers are saying. The fact of the matter is nobody’s shelving anything that I know of, so everyone is selling everything they’re producing. Long Island wines are also being poured in New York City at record levels. They’re pouring our wines in their restaurants not because they like us, but because they’re making money doing so.

“The proof is in the pudding, as they say,” he said.

Joe Gergela, executive director of the Long Island Farm Bureau, agreed the region has become a major destination for its many wineries, farm stands and weekend events and added that the area has become so not only within the borders of the country, but outside as well.

“We’ve really grown every year as a grape wine region and I think it’s terrific that we have so many visitors,” Mr. Gergela said. “A while ago, I took the agricultural minister of Israel on a tour of the region.”

Mr. Gergela joined Mr. Bate Wednesday at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s annual beer and wine summit, which Mr. Bate said speaks to the growing importance of the local wine region.

“There’s a lot of recognition, not only of the products, but the value of the industry to the state’s local economy as well,” he said.

gvolpe@timesreview.com

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