This past weekend, I had three stories to write for Dan’s Papers, one on Long Island winery weddings, a profile on a local winemaker and a story on Long Island bubbly. (I’ll post final versions of the stories either today or tomorrow once they are approved).

On our last stop for the bubbly story, we went to Lenz Winery…and what an amazing experience.

I printed up some quick business cards Saturday morning, just so I had something to hand over to tasting room staff as I tasted the sparklers. Well, when we got at Lenz and I talked to the woman at the bar, she said she would go see if the winemaker was busy.

The winemaker?!?! I was just looking to taste their well-known bubblies and write about them…I never imagined I’d get to meet Eric Fry!

This guy is amazing…his knowledge and passion are obvious beyond words.

When we were lead into the back of the building, there he was, in overalls, watching as his first-picked Chardonnay grapes were crushed and the juice pumped into one of their huge 600+ liter tank. Even as he sprinted here and there, making sure everything was going according to plan, he found and made the time to talk to us about the harvest, about what he was doing at that moment, and, of course, about sparkling wine.

Having worked in France and in California (at Mondavi and Jordan no less) this guy knows his wine…and spending any time someone like that is a real treat.

Then he started popping open sparkling wines that aren’t available to the public.

We got to go down into the cellar where he ages the bubbly…handing Nena and I each a bottle to carry upstairs. We had to carry them vertically (cap down–and it’s a beer cap!) to keep the yeast in the neck so Eric could clear it out upon opening it.

Then…as an amazing treat, we got to taste some that was still fermenting. It was cloudy (looked like lighter apple cider) and had a cidery taste to it as well. It was delicious though…which surprised me. The residual sugar smoothed out any strong yeasty flavor…I could have sipped that all day too.

Then, because I had never had one of their Cab Savs before and asked how they were…he popped open a bottle of that as well…and it was awesome (we bought a bottle of that).

It was the perfect afternoon…and I’m now sold on Lenz sparking wine…and Eric Fry has a new disciple.

If only he would have sold us a bottle of the 1990 Cuvee! Not that I blame him…it will be even better five years from now…