Regan Meador, assistant winemaker at Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards, left his white collar job in Manhattan about a year ago to pursue his passion for wine and winemaking. He’s learned a lot in his time at Osprey’s Dominion and will continue to learn in that job—but he and his wife Carey are also starting out on their own in the wine world.
The Meadors have purchased a 24-acre piece of land in Southold that will soon become Southold Farm + Cellar, their new winery.
Carey is a North Fork native who graduated from Mattituck High School. Her parents still live in Southold. “I only got to know this region because of coming out here to visit,” Regan told me in an email “I was interested in working in a region that hadn’t been completely defined. A place where it’s still a small community, not just big business. After spending a harvest working here, we were sold on staying, we just weren’t sure if it was possible.”
Finding the right property wasn’t easy. “The process of finding and purchasing land out here had us second-guessing quite a bit. We had some pretty bleak moments but any time we’d look outside of the region (to start a winery elsewhere), either we really had no interest in the areas or it would require us both starting completely over. So we kept shaking bushes here…and kept growing more and more attached to this great area and the people. Luckily something fell into our lap.”
When they plant their vineyard next spring, you won’t see a single chardonnay or merlot vine going into the ground.
“When Regan and I first met many months ago, he didn’t want to hear about my favorite merlot or chardonnay,” says Carey “He wanted to know who was making the best syrah, who was making interesting non-chardonnay white wines and who was experimenting with new-to-the-area grapes.”
Not that he doesn’t like merlot and chardonnay, mind you. He just isn’t a fan of ubiquity.
“The stuff is over-planted, not just here but globally,” Regan says, adding “Nothing against the wine itself—well maybe against chardonnay—but I would rather have some other colors on the palette. I really do think we have the potential as a region to be known for a great diversity in a very small area and that seems really cool to me. I want to be a part of that.”
To start, his family will plant syrah, lagrein and some other Northern Italian varieties that he’s not ready to divulge.
“I’m sure some will be hits and others misses, but we think it’s worth it. We want these wines to be unique.”
And, their piece of land has nurtured wine grapes before—as Charles John Vineyard, which was sold to Leucadia National Corp. in 2005. Those vines were ripped out, but two years later the new owners abandoned the vineyard seemingly without explanation.
The Meadors plan to breathe life back into the farm and vineyard. And they plan to do it themselves, as a family. “This is a family affair. With the help of Carey’s father we’ll be the ones doing all of the work on this, from home building to vineyard upkeep, etc.”
You can follow the Meador’s progress on their website and blog southoldfarmandcellar.com.