The Old Field Vineyards Rosamond Phelps Baiz Talks Wine, Oscar Meyer Wieners and Dan’s Harvest East End

“Always taste every wine two times before making a decision,” advises Rosamond Phelps Baiz, Winemaker and Proprietor with husband Christian F. Baiz of The Old Field Vineyards in Southold. “The first taste is likely to be very different from the second as your taste buds adjust to the flavors.” That is advice you can take to heart at Dan’s Harvest East End on August 23, when The Old Field Vineyards and more than 35 other Long Island wineries will be pouring selections for guests to taste alongside food by East End top chefs and purveyors during a night celebrating the area’s fine wines and culinary culture.

What will you be pouring at Dan’s Harvest East End?
2011 Chardonnay,, 2012 Blush de Noir, 2010 Cabernet Franc and 2007 Commodore Perry Merlot. The first two are because it’s summertime! The last two are because they are probably our very best vintages ever!

What drew you to work in the Long Island Wine industry?
The determination to save the family farm, purchased in 1918, for the sixth generation, and getting into an industry my husband Chris was much intrigued by—so much so that he was willing to take the risk and be the second planter out here [1974] using Hargrave vines on a small plot.

What are some of your favorite things about Long Island Wine Country?
The extraordinary geography of a small spit of land jutting out in the Atlantic ocean. There is nowhere else in the world like it!

What was the moment that made you a true wine lover?
There wasn’t one. I was raised with wine at the table from the time I was very young and so it became a fabric of my being.  Having said that, there was nothing to compare with the moment I first tasted the wine I grew, fussed over, fermented, barreled, waited upon with difficult patience, bottled, waited some more and then finally tasted—and it was damn good!

What is the best thing you’ve ever heard anyone say about your wines?
On a cold Friday morning in February, David Schildeknacht sat at our kitchen table tasting our wine and declared our Blanc de Noir was “world class.” What a thrill.

What is the funniest way you’ve heard somebody describe a wine?
“This finishes like an Oscar Meyer wiener” in reference to a Riesling.

Without naming names (but you may if you like), what do those infamous numerical wine ratings mean to you?
I have never quite understood how a small group of tasters with subjective albeit trained palates, tasting hundreds of wines can make those determinations whether to my advantage or not.

Talk a bit about the relationship among the winemakers here, the camaraderie, the collaboration and the competition aspects.
From my perspective, I would have been totally lost without the help of so many out here.  The numbers of vineyard managers who lent their thoughts and suggestions, especially Sam McCullough, were invaluable.  Later the winemakers, especially my mentor, Eric Fry, taught me what I know today and still stand ready to advise at the drop off a hat.  Also there is the precious resource we have with the Cornell Cooperative being right nearby with their advice, updates and connections to the valuable research and technology available.

What are a few insider tips for touring Long Island Wine Country?
Check to see if buses/ limos/ vans are allowed at the vineyard you would like to visit.  If you are 6 or more people you will need to have a reservation so call ahead.  Do not bring alcohol to the winery; it is illegal.  Remember to respect the place you are visiting.  Farm wineries are private farms which have opened themselves to invite you in to taste, enjoy and purchase their wines; they are peoples’ homes.

What are some aspects of your wines that would surprise people discovering them for the first time?
They are consistently good.

If you weren’t making wine, you would be… Bored …but sitting on a little quiet island with my feet up and drinking wine!

Make a toast to Long Island Wine: May the vines be strong and healthy and outlive all of us.

Dan’s Harvest East End is Saturday, August 23, from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at McCall Vineyard & Ranch in Cutchogue. For tickets, including Vin-IP entry (starting at 6:30 p.m.), and more info, please visit HarvestEastEnd.com.

The Old Field Vineyards is located at 59600 Main Road in Southold. Visit theoldfield.com or call 631-765-0004 for more information.

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