Editor’s Note: Every Thursday — call it Throwback Thursday if you’d like — we’ll pull a story from the more than a decade of NYCR stories and republish it. This week, I’ve chosen a story I published exactly 11 years ago, on January 28, 2005, about Waters Crest Winery. It seemed appropriate given the fact that Jim Waters will open his new tasting room on Main Road in Cutchogue (picture above) sometime in the next couple of weeks.

Jim Waters of Waters Crest Winery in Cutchogue has a great story to tell, one that will touch your heart as well as your palate.

Home winemakers turning pro aren’t particularly rare in the wine world, but the inspiration for Waters’ conversion sets him apart. For years, he worked for trucking and freight carrier companies. Wine was his passion, but not his profession.

That all changed after the September 11 tragedy three years ago.

A volunteer fireman and fire commissioner, Waters found himself at Ground Zero shortly after the attacks. Working side-by-side with other rescue workers had a sudden and profound effect on his outlook on life. Not long after, he decided to make a change. It was time to make his passion his profession.

Waters’ production runs are small (he made only 50 cases of his sold-out Meritage) but every last bottle takes “hand-crafted” to a whole new level.

“I can honestly say that I’ve touched every single bottle of wine I make,” he said as we chatted over tastes of his current Merlot, Riesling and Chardonnay (and a barrel sample of his Cabernet Franc).

Charming and engaging, Waters spent about an hour talking about his wines, his story and the Long Island wine region in general. It only took about five minutes for me to see how happy he was to be dealing with grapes and barrels as opposed to trucks. He is just teeming with enthusiasm for wine and winemaking.

Waters Crest’s 2003 Chardonnay ($16) is a great wine to pair with lighter foods. Bright acidity and nice citrus notes are well framed with toasty vanilla and barely perceptible oak. It’s not overly complex, but well-made and delightful.

The Waters Crest 2002 Merlot ($17) offers nice cherry fruit and subtle hints of chocolate. Soft, well-incorporated tannins make it extremely approachable. It benefits from some “air time” but another year or so in the bottle would be even better.

Far and away the best of its current releases, the Waters Crest Riesling ($17) gets my vote for the best new Riesling. Absolutely mouth-watering and unfailingly Alsatian in style, it is filled with lime and melon flavors with terrific acidity. Get some of this before it’s sold out. I don’t think there’s a better dry Riesling on the Island.