It’s been awhile since the wine industry out here on the East End of Long Island has gotten together to kibbitz about, well, wine, and Long Island’s place in the world market. The last time was 20 years ago, when wine pioneer Louisa Hargrave — who established the first Long Island winery and vineyard with her then-husband, Alex — with the help of Larry Perrine of Channing Daughters and many others organized the Bordeaux Maritime Climate Symposium.
The next one, The Art of Balance: Cool Climate/Maritime Wines in a Global Context, will take place in August at the Southampton campus of Stony Brook University.
Louisa is now the executive director of the Center for Food, Wine and Culture, which is centered at Stony Brook. The organization’s mission, Louisa told me by phone, is sustaining local agriculture, and the symposium is bringing cool-climate winemakers from around the world for two days of tasting, talks and networking.
Louisa is again being helped by Larry Perrine, who sits on the board of the New York WIne & Grape Foundation, which has provided grant money for the venture.
“What I want pople to understand,” said Louisa, “is that there’s a whole class of wine that are distinct from the Parker-pleasing paradigm of extract and alcohol. They have balance, life, energy and deliciousness. I think people need deliciousness.”
Louisa believes the last symposium in 1988 made a huge difference to the future of Long Island wine. “It put us on the map,” she said.
Part of the turning point, she said, was when Paul Pontallier, director of Chateau Margaux, attended.
“I saw him take his first taste of Long Island wine,” she said. “And that was quite a sight. He was talking to someone and didn’t know I was watching. He picked up a glass of chardonnay, sniffed it, tasted it. And then he just stopped. He tasted it again and smiled. It was clear he recognized the quality of the wine and it surprised him. From that moment on he was a fan.”
The idea for another symposium was born during a winemakers’ wine tasting. Soon a steering committe was formed, which included Chris Tracy, winemaker at Channing Daughters, who Louisa said came up with the theme, The Art of Balance, and was instrumental in securing the speakers.
Larry was indispensable in coming up with an event that really suits everyone’s goals, said Louisa, and the goals of the Wine & Grape Foundation, whose grant was intended to publicize Long Island Wine in New York City.
“I really hope all kinds of people come,” she said. “There will be so much to do, and if you don’t want to attend all the talks, you can go to the beach or walk around town.”