For this week’s “5 Questions with…” feature, we sit down with Alicia Valle from Lieb Cellars. She is a dean’s list graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and freelance artist who found her way to the North Fork from the Hudson Valley. Alicia works at Lieb Cellars’ new location in Cutchogue, but lives in Rocky Point and spends her days off geeking-out on culinary topics, exploring the Northeast, and visiting friends in Brooklyn.
What was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking — and where did you have it and who were you with?
(I will immediately discount the jug of Carlo Rossi “Burgundy” that I shared with friends at a house party in 2001.)
Summer of 2005, I shared a bottle of Malbec Reserva (Altos Las Hormigas, Medoza Valle de Uco, 2002). I only remeber these details because it was my first time enjoying a bottle wine that did not come in a bag, box, or jug. I drank it with my father in the backyard of my parents Rhinebeck countryside home, with grilled lamb chops that I shamelessly dipped in Peruvian aji amarillo sauce. This was the first time I had high quality food and wine paired together- and payed attention.
When did you know that you wanted to be in the wine industry?
This I owe wholly to the North Fork of Long Island. During my enrollment at CIA, I often visited friends that I had left behind on Long Island after my completing my bachelors degree at Stony Brook University. Throughout summer of 2009, I visited a few vineyards on the North Fork with some friends and was astounded that I had not known about this breathtaking place much sooner. I had always zipped through it to get to Greenport, and this was before I knew about Sound Avenue. I returned on my own the following day and stopped in about five or six vineyards to do some wine tasting of my own. Between my love of wine and the commitment I had recently made to dedicate my life to all things culinary, I knew that this was where I had to be. I moved back to Long Island right after graduation and have been working on the North Fork ever since.
What do you wish were different about the New York wine community and industry?
I would really like to see more New York wines on Long Island menus. I really love that I am finding more and more familiar vineyards on wine lists in NoFo restaurants, and am hoping this will spread even further. I am looking forward to watching the relationship grow between New York vineyards and restaurants.
When you’re not drinking your own wines, what are you drinking?
Fellow Long Island wines and large format NY craft beers (Ommegang being my go-to). I have recently started exploring wines from the Finger Lakes region, and my father continues to be fixated on Malbec, so I often have a bottle on hand. Also I am a sucker for big gnarly Italian reds and can’t get enough of the Super Tuscans.
If you could only pick one grape/wine/producer to live out your days with on a deserted island, what would it be?
Without hesitation I would choose the upcoming Lieb Cellars Rose, 100% Cabernet Franc, 2012. I tasted it a couple weeks ago and I am already excited to enjoy it in the summer sun of 2013.