It has happened to us all before. We go out to eat at a restaurant and the experience was not up to par. You come home underwhelmed and say to yourself, “not going back there”. Could have it have been the service; could it have been the atmosphere; could it have been that you were just not feeling it that day? Any one of those could have been your excuse — but what is your excuse if you don’t give them a second chance?
I had an underwhelming experience at Peconic Bay Winery seven years ago. Yes. Seven. Years ago. And to wait 6 years to give Peconic Bay a second chance was wrong.
It goes something like this about 7 years ago — I can remember the day clearly, it was mid-week. Melissa, my girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife, went out to wine country to do some tastings as we did a lot in our early days of dating. We decided to ride along, Route 25 this time – we normally ride along Route 48, it just closer for us. We packed a cooler and decided to stop for lunch at a vineyard, buy a bottle of wine and enjoy the day, atmosphere and food that we packed up that day. The vineyard was going to help us with the wine to round out our little one day get away.
We decided upon Peconic Bay Winery, it was the white Adirondack chairs out front that caught our eye. They looked inviting and settled up for some good times. I can’t tell you what wine we had with lunch – it was 6+ years ago. But I do know that we were satisfied with the wine. What we were not satisfied with were the surroundings; It seemed we sat so close to the road, our view was of King Kullen and the chairs were not that comfortable. I recall Melissa saying in so many words, too bad our view is of King Kullen and the shopping center and it’s so noisy with the traffic of Route 25. Because of those reasons, we never went back.
Flash forward to the fall of 2009. We find ourselves at Peconic Bay Winery with about 15 funeral directors as a group visiting farm stands and vineyards on the North Fork. We tasted the top flight as a group. Luckily we had reservations – the place was packed. I started to have reservations about this tasting. Thoughts ran through my head, “how are they goingto do this?”, “”its too uncomfortable to taste”, “they will forget about us.”
NONE of those fears in my head came true. Not a single one. We tasted 6 wines that day.
All poured effortlessly, by a very attentive staff. They seemed calm and collected on such a busy day. When we were all done with the one tasting, they were ready to pour the next one. They explained the wines, answered our questions and made us feel as if we were the only ones there. I walked away very happy and wanting to taste more of Peconic Bay. Was this the 6-year-old second chance that was 5 years too late? Probably, but I wanted to see it again and I wanted to see if I could see King Kullen.
Back in late May or early June (yes it was that long ago), Jim Silver, Peconic Bay’s General Manager asked when I was going to visit them. In a few e-mails he liked what I was dong here on the blog and had hoped that I could visit soon. I did visit and I am glad I did. Things have changed for the better at Peconic Bay Winery. There is now trees that buffer the sound of Route 25. You can’t see King Kullen from the Peconic Bay “meadow” just off the tasting room. There are now comfortable Adirondack nautical color cushioned chairs with umbrellas that look very cozy — Makes you want to read a book or taste some wine or just relax and waste the day away. There are gas fire pits that add atmosphere and are on for late night wine tasting events.
But more importantly, at least to me are the wines. Deliciously made there since 1979, one the oldest vineyards on Long Island. The seem to fall under the radar. Not sure why considering they have some of the best priced wines on Long Island. Not one offering is above $28. They are also the first winery to produce a brandy made from distilling their own finished Merlot wine. On top of all the fine wine at Peconic Bay, they also have a Tapas menu which has been prepared in advance by chef Tom Schaudel of “aMano” restaurant in Mattituck. Above all of that are the wines, here are some that made an impression on me at the time when I tasted:
- Peconic Bay Steel Fermented 2007 Chardonnay ($24) Melon apple and grassy straw with a zing of acidity and a note of wet stone. Apple and pear round out the mouth with a creamy spicy note. (This is sold out)
- Peconic Bay 2008 Riesling I believe that the 2009 is released, but I have a bottle of the 2008 that I plan on reviewing here soon.
- Nantique Esprit de Blanc ($18) blended wine that represents “ABC” anything but chardonnay. It is blended with Riesling, Chardonnay and some Pinot Grigio. If you are looking for a Sauvignon Blanc style, than this is your wine. If you like Pinot Grigio, then have a glass of this. The nose is reminiscent of Riesling with peach and apricot and tropical fruit. Floral with hints of honey-dew melon and grapefruit. Clean crisp and refreshing with great zinging acidity and nice mouth feel.
- Nautique Esprit de Rosé ($18) This is made with 2009 red grapes with little skin contact. It is a bled of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The story goes that the 2009 reds were not ripening, so the idea was to use the lots for their New Nantique line of wines. I am glad they did, because this was on of my favorite Rose’s from the 2009 vintage. A full post on this wine will be here soon.
- Peconic Bay 2007 Merlot ($28) Dark fruit like plum and blackberry dominate the nose with hints of earthy slate. The dark fruit continues on the palate with hints of pepper and spice with subtle hints of cherry and a great showing of dried herbs. Big tannins and great acidity makes me think this is one to age in your cellar.
- Peconic Bay 2007 Cabernet Franc ($28) Again, you will see a post here in the future on their Cabernet Franc.
It is safe to say that Peconic Bay Winery is a must if you are out on the east end visiting wine country. They make delicious Riesling, crowd pleasing white & rose blends, chardonnay two ways and age worthy reds. I can tell you this for sure, as a new dad, you will see me a few times at Peconic Bay, if not for the music and entertainment, than you will see me chasing after my son as he runs his legs to sleep at Peconic Bay Winery.