By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor
Photos courtesy of North Fork Patch and Roanoke Vineyards

Andrew With events like The Judgment of Riverhead and its "Smackdown" series, Roanoke Vineyards has been putting on some of the North Fork's more interesting winery events for a while now. These are events that are easy to appreciate and enjoy — for both the creativity behind them and the fact that they aren't all about Roanoke Vineyards wines.

On Saturday, sixteen local wine lovers — including fellow bloggers/journalists — Henry Powderly and Michael Gorton — competed in the "March Madness Smackdown Tournament" a bracket-style blind taste-off for a seat on the expert panel at the April 2, 2011 edition of Smackdown. If you're unfamilar with the Smackdowns, they are an hybrid event-contest that asks a panel of Long Island winemakers, vineyard owners and experts to taste a series of wines blind and try to identify them. The person able to identify the most, wins, but non-panel attendees simply get to taste the same wines as the experts.

The winner of the tournament was Andrew Rockwell, Laboratory Director at Premium Wine Group (pictured right), who also happens to be crafting a 2010 cabernet franc of his own — but that's another story for another day.

Andrew will join a panel that already includes Kareem Massoud, winemaker at Paumanok Vineyards, Kelly Urbanik, winemaker at Macari Vineyards, Tracy Ellen-Kamens of Grand Cru Classes and Louisa Thomas Hargrave, who co-founded Long Island wine country with Hargrave Vineyard.

The 3rd Smackdown will take place April 2 at 6 p.m. in the Jedediah Hawkins Gallery with food by chef Keith Luce from Luce-Hawkins. You can get the details online, or call the Smackdown Hotline at 631.727.4161

I'm hoping to attend myself…with a big "GO ANDREW" sign in tow.