The wine world is seemingly overflowing with technology sector refugees who have escaped the corporate grind for an agricultural life.It sometimes gives me hope that I may eventually make wine my career.
Paul Deninno, owner and winemaker at BashaKill Vineyards is one such refugee.
Formerly and auto mechanic and and IT manager, Dennino started BashaKill Vineyards, the first commercial winery in Sullivan County, in 2005. A year later, he planted his first vines — Noiret and Cayuga. Two years later, he added Marquette.
There are two main reasons for choosing those grapes. First, Sullivan County, in the Catskill Mountains, isn't particularly well suited to viticulture. It's cold, with plenty of late spring and early fall frosts.
He can really only grow grapes at all because of the Bashakill wetlands located at the bottom of his sloping vineyard. The moist, warmer air coming off the wetlands blankets the vineyards, pushing the colder air away from the vines.
The wetlands aren't deep enough to protect the vineyards the way the Finger Lakes do in that region, but they do help ward off those early and late frosts. So, winter-hardy varieties were a must.
Dennino also planted disease-resistant grapes because he grows his grapes without pesticides.
Knowing that many of his tasting room visitors won't know Noiret, Cayuga or some of the other grapes he purchases from the Finger Lakes, Deninno names his wines for things in the wetlands, like this BashaKill Vineyards 2009 Dragonfly ($14) which is 100% steel-fermented Lemberger purchased from Keuka Springs Vineyard in the Finger Lakes.
When first opened, there is a whiff of fermentation which might be because Dennino bottles with low sulphites. That blows off quickly though revealing bright red fruit aromas of red cherries, strawberry hull, pomegranates and a sprinkling of black pepper spice.
Lithe and lively on the palate with food-friendly, juicy acidity, the black pepper character is a bit more prominent here, with crunchy red fruit flavors, a little briar and subtle earthy, woodsy note.
This is my first no-oak Lemberger and I appreciate the clear window it provides.
Producer: BashaKill Vineyards
AVA: New York State