The New Wine Maker on the Block: Meet Pindar Vineyards Assistant Winemaker Edward Lovaas

This past summer was a whirlwind of activity with wine makers moving from one vineyard to another.  Three local wine makers moved in all, with Kelly Urbanik going from Bedell Cellars to Macari Vineyards, Rich Olsen-Harbich leaving Raphael and going to Bedell Wine Cellars then Les Howard left Pindar Vineyards and moved across the street to Raphael.  What a game of musical chairs.

After the dust settled, Pindar Vineyards was left without a wine maker.  When I had spoken with Pindar Damianos shortly after the announcement that Les was leaving, he hinted that they would be looking off Long Island to bring in some new blood to be part of the winemaking team that was now led by Jason Damianos.  After a long search Pindar Vineyards found their new assistant to Jason.  After a weekend on Long Island and a series of interviews, Edward Lovaas was hired as their assistant wine maker and added to the Pindar team.

Edward comes to Long Island from Mendocino California.  A retired Marine — Edward served four years in the military Police with the Marine Corps.  After being discharged, he decided to get into the local Mendocino wine country and he began working for Gabrielli Winery with harvest in 1997.  That is where he found his passion for wine and wine making.

Edward during the 2010 harvest. Photo from Newsday.

In 1998 Edward landed a job at Graziano Family of Wine working and studying under Greg Graziano.  He considers Greg Graziano a second father.  At Graziano, Edward worked with such varietals as Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, pinotage, Sangiovese, Tocai Friulano, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel, just to name a few.  While at Graziano, Edward also worked at UC Davis Extension Program by making their small test lot wines.

After years of studying under Greg Graziano, Edward move on to Pietra Santa Winery.  While there, he made some very nice wines, but he also had the opportunity to make olive oil.  While at Pietra Santa Winery, Edward attended UC Davis distant learning program in Viticulture and Enology.

In 2005 Edward started to get into the consulting end of winemaking and returned to his roots and returned to Gabrielli Winery.

In 2008 Edward decided to take some time off and follow another passion of his, scuba diving.  He was and instructor and helped out with the popular television show MythBusters and other shows on BBC.

In 2009 Edward returned to winemaking as a Counsulitng Winemaker in southern California.

On August 1, 201o he left the west coast for the east coast when he took the title of Assistant Winemaker at Pindar Vineyards.

Dr. Dan Damianos, Edward, Nicole & Pindar Damianos. Photo from Patch.com

A while ago I met up with Edward and Pindar at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic.  We tasted through some of the 2010 wines that were going through fermentation or some that were just about complete.  This was my first opportunity to taste some of the juice that will be red wine and white wine from the amazing 2010 vintage.

I had asked Edward a few questions during the visit, tasted some wine and got to know this young winemaker from the other coast.  Edward struck me as an intense, matter of fact type of  individual.  He is intelligent with an impeccable palate.  Edward came to Long Island for the challenge.  The opportunity to make wine in a cold climate, maritime region is one he wanted.  From our conversation I got the feeling that making wine in california was boring.  The climate is relatively the same and there is not much difference between vintages.

When he arrived, after driving across the country with his Fiance and his 3 horses, he arrived with just about 3 weeks to get ready for harvest.  He said the fruit looked great but he was not ready for the low yield.  Edward was used to 3-4 tons per acre compared to the 1.5 – 2 tons here on Long Island.

Edward also told me that he never had a wine from Long Island before.  Not that is a problem, because when he arrived he made it a point to visit every Long Island tasting room.  He was very impressed with what he tasted.  His favored Long Island wine that he tasted was a rare, wine club only offering from Wolffer Estate –a 2005 Barbera.  Too bad they don’t have those vines anymore.  I asked him what his favorite Pindar wine was — Sauvignon Blanc.  And when Edward is not drinking Graziano Zinfandel, or Pindar Sauvignon Blanc, what are you drinking, Edward said “Mendocino Brewing Company’s Eye of the Hawk.”  Yet another winemaker who loves beer.

I had asked him what varietals did he like working with. “Pinot Noir, Grenache, Nebbiolo and Arneis.  Because those grapes are where you separate the cooks from the chefs.”  Now Grenache, Nebbiolo and Arneis are not found here on Long Island, but Pinot Noir is.  Duck Walk produces a Pinot Noir and from the first tasting of the 2010 Pinot Noir, that pinot will be amazing.

The big question is what can Edward bring to the winemaking team at Pindar Vineyards.  I know he can bring new ideas and new energy, I can see that just by talking with him.  I asked him what he thought he could bring to Pindar Vineyards, his answer was point-blank “wines with impeccable balance”.  He also mentioned that he would like to see some new labels.  By labels I assume he means new releases from Pindar Vineyards and if that means there are new releases then there will be new labels.  I had a chance to taste one new one which I will talk about later that really blew me away.

Edward is used to working with big, high alcohol wines.  You are not going to find them year in year out here.  Though 2010 you might find a few in the future — Pindar Vineyards Cabernet Franc was harvested at 27 Brix!  But the short time I have known Edward, I think his impact will be noticed and help make the wine making team at Pindar shine.

I always save my favorite question for last.  I love the see the responses and I always want to take part in the meal — “Your last meal would consist of what wine and food”  Edward replied, “A bottle of 2004 Chateau Rayes Chateauneuf du Pape (100% Grenache), bottle of 2002 Domaine de la Romane’e Conti and rack of lamb with mushroom risotto and roasted cauliflower.  Sorry but great meal need a minimum of 2 wines.  I would most likely have 4 glasses in front of me.”   Hungry?

Edward is such a great guy.  I am glad the Pindar team and Edward hit it off right away, just as Edward and I did.  In fact, Edward is the force behind me starting my own little tasting group.  We talked and e-mailed about a group he was a part of back in California and he really wanted one here.  I am glad he pushed me to do it, we have assembled a nice little group.

So the next time you are out at Pindar Vineyards, stop in and welcome Edward to Long Island.  In fact, this weekend,February 19th Pindar Vineyards will be opening up their barrel cellar and you will be able to taste some of the wines that Edward has been working on since he arrived.  What an excellent opportunity to meet Edward and get an early taste of the soon to be amazing 2010 vintage.  In fact you just might see me and my son Gabe there.

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About Michael Gorton, Jr.

I am a Licensed Funeral Director who is having a love affair with Long Island Wine and the people that make Long Island wine so special. I am married to my wife Melissa and live in Rocky Point. Our first son Gabriel Noel was born on July 27, 2010. We have three cats and one dog.
This entry was posted in Eight Great Questions, Long Island, Pindar, Winemaker, Winery Visit. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The New Wine Maker on the Block: Meet Pindar Vineyards Assistant Winemaker Edward Lovaas

  1. Welcome to the North Fork, Ed. I look forward to meeting you and tasting the fruits of your labor at Pindar Vineyards. As the region’s largest producer, there is vast opportunity for important and region-changing work to be done there.

    Michael: Glad to see you finally get around posting this, but looking forward to it.

  2. Pingback: Pindar Vineyards 2010 Sauvignon Blanc | Undertaking Wine

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