When I first met Regan Meador, assistant winemaker at Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards, many months ago via Twitter he didn’t want to know who was making my favorite local merlot or chardonnay. Instead, he wanted to know who is making my favorite syrah, who is making interesting non-chardonnay whites and who is planting different grapes.
Not that he doesn’t like merlot and chardonnay, mind you. He just isn’t a fan of ubiquity.
“The stuff is over-planted, not just here but globally,” he says, adding “Nothing against the wine itself — well maybe against chardonnay — but I would rather have some other colors on the palette.”
Last week, Regan and his wife Carey closed on a 24-acre piece of land in Southold that will soon become Southold Farm + Cellar, their new winery. When they plant their vineyard next spring, you won’t see a single chardonnay or merlot vine going into the ground.
“I definitely like ‘off beat’ (varieties). I like the rough edges — from music to wine to films — I’ve always had an affinity for things that are a bit weird, yet are still true to themselves. Not weird for the sake of being weird,” Regan says. “I really do think we have the potential as a region to be known for a great diversity in a very small area and that seems really cool to me. I want to be a part of that.”
Regan does enjoy two of Long Island’s most important varieties — sauvignon blanc and cabernet franc — and plans to work with them, but to start, his family will plant syrah, lagrein and some other Northern Italian varieties that he’s not ready to divulge.
I really do think we have the potential as a region to be known for a great diversity in a very small area and that seems really cool to me. I want to be a part of that.”
“It’s been a lot of research finding things that may work, trying loads of wines,” he says of the process so far. “I’m sure some will be hits and others misses, but we think it’s worth it. We want these wines to be unique.”
The vineyard site itself, which Regan describes as “great” is on a rare high spot on the North Fork, and isn’t surrounded by trees, “so there’s always a breeze.” It’s a promising location.
Actually, it’s more than promising. This piece of land has cradled and nurtured grapes before.
Back in 2005, it was Charles John Vineyard. That same year, Leucadia/Pine Ridge bought the vineyard, along with Broadfields Vineyard, ripped all of the vines — thousands of them — out. Two years later, the new owners abandoned the vineyard seemingly without explanation.
The Meadors and Southold Farm + Cellar plan to breath life back into the farm and vineyard — and they plan to do it themselves, as a family. “This is a family affair. With the help of Carey’s father we’ll be the ones doing all of the work on this, from home building to vineyard upkeep, etc.”
This bit of land in Southold has been largely dormant for the past several years. The next several should see it bustling with activity, life and — eventually — wine once more. It will be great to follow along.