By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

VinnyVinny Aliperti started his winemaking career here on Long Island at Wolffer Estate, known back then in 1997 as Sag Pond Vineyards, working with winemaker Roman Roth and winemaker Rich Pisacano just as the new winery was being constructed.

He spent spent three years there and then moved, with his wife and "youngins," to Geneva, NY to take a job with Hermann J. Wiemer as an associate winemaker for the 2000 harvest. In early 2001 he joined a new winery, Atwater Estate Vineyards, as assistant winemaker and since 2003 has served as head winemaker there.

In 2007, Vinny and his wife Kim opened Billsboro Winery.

And now, our standard set of questions:

What (and where) was the first bottle of wine you remember drinking?

First taste of wine was either my dad's homemade rose or Carlo Rossi cut with water at the dinner table when I was around 12

What event/bottle/etc. made you decide that you wanted to be in the wine industry?

When I started at Wolffer I spent most of my time in the chilly wind-swept vineyards and occasionally was needed in the winery. One day upon entering the tank room I was immediately struck by its intoxicating smell and the revelation that winemakers generally avoid working out in the elements.

Which of your current wines is your favorite and why?

Atwater's 2007 Syrah, which was made with fruit grown at Sawmill Creek Vineyards on Seneca Lake.

We planted some at Atwater a few years ago and thought while we wait for it to come online we'd try to get acquainted with Finger Lakes syrah. As luck would have it our first attempt was rendered from a stellar growing season.

Working with a new variety naturally generates curiosity and a sense of discovery, for only a handful of Finger Lakes syrah have been vinified over the last ten years.

What has surprised you most about being a member of the Finger Lakes wine community?

I knew moving here from the Big Apple promised us an overall improvement in our quality of life…little did I expect how much opportunity awaited. There aren't too many places left where one with modest means can set up their own winery with their employer's blessing in such a beautiful setting.

Other than your own wines, what wine/beer/liquor most often fills your glass?

I, like most winemakers, adore beer…the hoppier the better.

Is there a 'classic' wine or wine and food pairing that you just can't make yourself enjoy?
I'm good with the "classics"

Wine enjoyment is about more than just the wine itself. Describe the combination of wine, locations, food, company, etc. that would make (or has made) for the ultimate wine-drinking experience.

Wine is by nature a social beverage…friends, wine and live music…now that's livin'!