Rob_bralow By Lenn Thompson, Editor and Publisher

All told, we had 30 bloggers and spouses/friends take part in this debut edition of TasteCamp EAST, each with different backgrounds, tastes and impressions of Long Island's wineries, people and wines.

Over the course of the next several weeks, in addition to my own posts about the weekend, I'll be asking some of the attendees for their honest impressions and experiences with Long Island wines both before and after TasteCamp.

We'll kick things off with Rob Bralow from the Wine Post blog, out of Manhattan.

Rob has been in the wine business for the last three years,
working for multiple country image campaigns, including Wines of Chile,
Wines of Germany and Wines of Israel. Rob's first experiences with
wine stem from his parents, both of which had a great enthusiasm for
making wine part of daily life. In addition to the work he does, Rob
also has taken several wine courses and uses his blog to expand his
wine education.

Was this your first time to Long Island wine country?
It was my first time in Long Island wine country, although I had
been to Long Island a few times before. My mother originally grew up on
Long Island.

Had you ever had any Long Island wines before? And if so, what was your impression of them?
I tasted a few, but not nearly enough to have an opinion of them.
Really the only ones I tasted regularly were the Schneider Vineyards
wines, and that only because I knew and worked with the winemaker,
Bruce Schneider.
After tasting a representative sample of the wines being produced on Long Island, what is your impression now?
Good. There is no question that great wine comes out of Long
Island, however as a whole I think the region still has plenty of room
for improvement.
What grape or variety, in general, impressed you the most?
Cabernet franc, no question. I think that grape has a lot of
potential, and there were plenty of great examples of the wine and some
really cool nearly-sustainable practices (they're working on it) that I
thought made the wines not only unique, but very tasty.
What grape or variety, in general, underwhelmed you the most?
I was not so excited about the merlot I tasted. I think the Long
Island Merlot Alliance has some great stuff going for them, but overall
there was too much hype about the merlot that never really impressed
me, especially for the price.

Was there a winery or tour stop that stands out in your mind as the "best"?
All were beautiful, but the one that stuck out to me was Lenz
Winery. The winemaker there (Eric Fry) is quite possibly certifiably crazy,
but his wines are so pure and so delicious that I can only applaud his
work ethic. If I had the same zeal about tasting wine as he does about
making it, I would have tasted every wine in the world by July, just in
time for me to start tasting them all again.
If you had to pick one, what would your wine of the weekend be?

There were so many great wines during the weekend. I think my
choice is going to surprise a few people when they read it, but I loved
the Channing Daughters Tocai Friulano 2007. It was so fresh and
aromatic and such a wonderful change from what I had tasted before.
Clearly the winemaker there is not afraid to experiment and not afraid
to go with his gut instinct of making the best wine the region can grow.