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A Home on the Island: Buying local wine, locally

I am a true believer in buying local and also know that items supporting local business owners and representing our area’s uniqueness always make the best purchases.

Whether I am the hostess or the guest, having a bottle of wine on hand with a story to share is always a bonus, especially during the holiday season. Some people have their go-to favorite wines, while others are overwhelmed by the volume of options available.

The Long Island vineyards are an easy ferry ride away and within just a short drive, there are approximately 60 distinct wine producers dedicated to the deep connection between land and table. Some of them are popular, and many of them are not only accepted, but also recognized and acclaimed within the wine enthusiast community — with Cutchogue’s Bedell Cellars 2009 Merlot even served at the 2013 U.S. Presidential Inauguration.

Visiting one of the local wine retailers can help you get to know some of the options that are available.

Shelter Island Wine and Spirits, located on Bridge Street, carries options from several well-known Long Island vineyards with options including:

• Pellegrini Cabernet Sauvignon,

• Pindar Winter White, Pythagoras Table Red, or a sweeter white Riesling

• Wolffer Estate’s famous Summer In A Bottle

One notable brand that they are proud to carry is Onabay Vineyard, which has no actual physical space, rather just 20 planted acres of vines located on Peconic Bay.

The owners selected their brand name to honor their unique location, which is quite literally “on a bay.” Since there is no tasting room, this is not a vineyard that you can visit, but even without direct-to-consumer sales, their high quality products have been very widely praised.

Earlier this year, their cabernet-franc blend called ‘Cot-Fermented’ was placed on a New York Times list of 20 wines under $20, which included bottles from all over the world. Shelter Island Wine and Spirits carries this celebrated Cabernet-Franc, as well as their Merlot and Chardonnay.

Another impressive local wine list can be found at the White Oak Wine Garden on Manwaring Road, which exclusively offers wines produced on Long Island. In addition to their tasting room options, you can purchase bottles to go from their own selection of White Oak Wines, made by winemaker Tom Spotteck of Lenz Winery in partnership with Kristian Clark, or from a carefully curated list featuring some of the best boutique local winemakers.

Their red wine list in particular is extremely impressive, and they will also help introduce you to some of the lesser-known, but very high-quality offerings, including my personal favorite – the Leo Family Wines red blend.

During the summer months, Dandy Liquors located on North Ferry Road carries wine from the noted Raphael vineyard, located in Peconic.

The Petrocelli family who owns the winery credits an old French proverb stating, “Only the vines that overlook the water are capable of producing wines of great quality.” Harvesting their grapes entirely by hand, the winery produces reds including a Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Whites include Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling as well as a Rose.

I initially intended to end this article with a paragraph noting “As we prepare for the holiday season,” but I immediately hit the backspace on that statement, as the month of December means that we are in the holiday season, not merely preparing for it.

Each weekend is filled with celebrations and festivities, and our calendars are easily booked up with holiday dinners, casual get togethers and formal parties. Even without having plans to attend or places to go, we are shopping, decorating and perhaps baking special treats.

The holidays are a good time to have a bottle of wine on hand to gift or to share; and it’s even better when it has been locally produced and sold by an Island retailer. Wine shops can be daunting, but start by identifying Long Island as the growing region you are interested in and talk through the available options with one of our knowledgeable sources who will guide you through the choices.

You can choose red or white wine,

Or even with apple cider; we toast.

Clink glasses to the light of laughter,

and the warmth of those we love most.