Did you know they were growing and making wine in Queens? Well of course you did, because I told you they were growing grapes a year or two ago. I wrote about it because Alice Wise, the Cornell Extension expert on Long Island, introduced Gary Mitchell, the Farm Museum Director of Operations at the Queens County Farm Museum in New York City, to me then.
The Queens County Farm Museum's history dates back to 1697; it occupies New York City's largest remaining tract of undisturbed farmland and is the only working historical farm in the City. The farm encompasses a 47-acre parcel that is the longest continuously farmed site in New York State. The site includes historic farm buildings, a greenhouse complex, livestock, farm vehicles and implements, planting fields, an orchard and herb garden.
Well, they released their first vintage in April, and the news went everywhere.
The New York Daily News reported, "Now New Yorkers can finally get a sip. The Farm Museum will debut the first of the 900 cases it has yielded so far at a wine auction inside their barn on May 18. They'll unveil their 2006 Adriance Blend, a mix of Cabernet Franc and other grapes, as well as a 2006 Merlot and a 2007 Chardonnay."
Cindy Yan wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "Not exactly the new Napa, but the Queens County Farm Museum in New York City uncorked its first bottles of wine from its vineyards on Sunday. Wines include Merlot, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, all grown on a 1.5-acre property in Floral Park, Queens. A state wine official confirmed that the County Farm Museum is the only commercial grape grower in New York City."
But I wasn't able to get my hands on a bottle until now. Gary, and his lovely young bride Tina (and their two absolutely gorgeous twin toddlers) came to visit the Columbia County Fair this week. Gary is one of the most interesting people you will ever meet. Worked in Hollywood, but he's also been a professor at several universities. He's worked theater on Broadway and road companies. He is one of the best read people you will ever meet. But he also loves working the farm in Queens, and talks about it with verve and passion. He was telling us how he's entering the Corn Maze Season very soon at the farm, which is a major attraction. He's a regular guy, and a lot of fun! And Tina teaches at two colleges as well, including Bard! Quite the couple! We love them!
The grapes are grown on the farm museum property, and then Gary trucks them down to Premium Wine Group, where Long Island winemaker extraordinaire, Russel Hearn, turned the museum's bounty in to liquid gold.
The first thing we opened was the Merlot 2007. I thought it wonderful. A classic Long Island style Merlot, with dark cherry and mature raspberries where waved over with a hint of vanilla. Tea and mocaha also came through. An excellent balance of fruit, acids, and tannins. A great wine.
More intriguing to me was the 2006 Adriance. This is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Merlot, with a few other classic varieties thrown in. This is more a Bordeaux-like blend. I thought this was incredible. Big ripe plums, cherries, raspberries, a touch of prune, and even some pencil shavings (courtesy of the Cab Franc). This was a great wine. It begged for steak, which we were more than happy to comply with.
At a very large picnic table, Dominique and I and Gary and Tina sat down, and ate fresh upstate New York corn, accompanied by these blood red, fresh tomatoes form the Farm Museum, with some local greens, and two big grilled steaks. We washed it all down with these two, very fine wines. Great stuff.
Congrts to Russell! And congrats to Gary and the whole staff at the farm!
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/food/2010/04/25/2010-04-25_grape_expectations_queensgrown_wine_has_now_come_of_age.html#ixzz0yYYX9xUU
Read the full New York Daily News piece here: