Paumanok Vineyards Up for Winery of the Year

The North Fork’s Paumanok Vineyards is up for a coveted honor among vintners: Wine Enthusiast Magazine‘s 2013 American Winery of the Year.

The nomination comes as Paumanok, which was founded in 1983 on a 103-acre estate in Aquebogue, approaches its 30th anniversary celebration. It is a family-operated vineyard, started by Ursula and Charles Massoud and now helmed by their son, winemaker Kareem Massoud.

Wine Enthusiast founders Adam and Sybil Strum, along with executive editor Susan Kostrzewa, came to the vineyard August 23 to give them the news.

“It was a very exciting and emotional afternoon when we found out,” Kareem Massoud said. “We weren’t expecting that, so it was a very pleasant surprise.”

He said they conveyed that they have been following Paumanok’s wines for some time and have been impressed.

The awardees will be announced in the magazine’s December 31 issue and trophies will be presented at a January 27 black-tie Wine Star Award gala in Manhattan. But Massoud has a lot of other things to focus on until then. “We’re on the cusp of harvest,” he said. “This is kind of the calm before the storm. We’re preparing everything in the winery and the cellar.”

Paumanock produces chardonnay, chenin blanc, riesling, sauvignon blanc, cabernet franc, merlot, cabernet sauvignon and rosé. According to Wine Enthusiast, Paumanok wines are in an Old World-meets-New World style.

Massoud said the weather was very favorable for the grapes through August, and after a couple dreary days the rest of the week is forecast to be beautiful. The grapes are now protected by bird netting, and ripening for harvest.

“We’re actually pretty excited about the current vintage,” Massoud said. “But as my father says, ‘You can’t take it to the bank until it’s in the tank.'”

Paumanok will hold a 30th anniversary tasting event September 28 from 6 to 9 p.m., including the release of the winery’s first sparkling wine. Ten local chefs will prepare food. The cost is $150, with proceeds benefiting Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead. For more information, visit paumanok.com.

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