Long Island: Rosé Capital of Summer

Picture yourself in the Hamptons on a beautiful summer Saturday. It’s early evening, the sun’s going down, and maybe you’re on the beach, or maybe you’re lounging with friends on your quiet, peaceful patio. You’re snacking on some locally grown veggies and artisanal cheeses, and you’ve got a nice, cold glass of local wine in your hand. Now think. What kind of wine are you drinking?

If you answered “Long Island dry rosé,” then you’re in good company. Long Island’s vineyards have seen the popularity of their dry rosé wines skyrocket over the past several years. Our East End producers can’t make enough of it, and typically sell out of their stock.

Roman Roth, partner and winemaker at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, has witnessed the astonishing rise of rosé from the beginning.

“In 1992, Wölffer produced the first dry rosé on Long Island, only 82 cases,” he recalls. “This year, we produced 17,000 cases of four different varieties of rosé. In the last six years we’ve watched demand for it go up 30–50% every year.” Roth attributes the surging popularity of rosé to a growing recognition of rosé as the perfect, light summer wine.

In addition to their familiar Wölffer rosé, Wölffer produces “Noblesse Oblige,” which is a classic sparkling rosé, and the “Grandioso,” their reserve rosé. And, new this summer, they’ve released “Summer in a Bottle.” The new rosé has a floral bottle design evocative of bohemian Hamptons summer evenings.

Over on the North Fork, Southold’s Croteaux Vineyards have good reason to be happy about rosé’s growing popularity: at Croteaux, rosé is all they do. For Michael Croteaux, rosé was a natural for the East End.

“Provence is the dominant rosé producer in the world. It’s a region of France that has always been an international vacation destination with centuries of winemaking and beach culture to support its reputation. And the East End is the only wine region in the U.S. that’s right on the ocean.” Also, because rosé is released so soon after harvesting, it benefits from being “fresh and local,” mapping well with the growing interest in farm-to-table eating on the East End.

Wölffer’s Roth echoes that idea. “The growing popularity of rosé definitely goes along with the ‘eat local-drink local’ idea.” The thought process might go something like this: what better to go along with my fresh-picked East End veggies then some freshly bottled East End wine.

But why stop with the veggies? According to Christopher Tracy, winemaker at Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton, another reason for rosé’s resurgent popularity is that rosé is an incredibly versatile wine when it comes to pairing with food.

“It pairs incredibly with our local fish and seafood and our local produce. It’s poured in casual settings and at the most formal restaurants in the city.” Channing Daughters, who refer to their rosé as “rosato,” released 4,500 cases of seven different varieties this year. They usually sell out of their rosato in August or September.

While it’s nice to have such a popular product, as far as Tracy is concerned, selling out of it has its downside. “I’d like to work out how to get it to last a little longer, because it’s starting to be a year-round phenomenon. People don’t stop drinking rosé when summer’s over, and [we’d] like to be able to meet the demand.”

As the East End’s wine industry enters its fifth decade, they are producing many world-class wines. But for summer in the Hamptons, it’s the rosés that we can’t get enough of.

Cheers!

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