A day in the company of fine friends visiting the many gorgeous wineries and vineyards on the North Fork of Long Island is a day well spent.
Planning out which wineries to visit ahead of time is recommended. Should you or someone in your party be vegan, it’s necessary.
Not every winery is accommodating to those living a vegan lifestyle. Winemakers often use albumen (egg whites), isinglass (fish bladder proteins), or other animal-derived agents in their fining process for clarity or to soften and round out a wine’s finish. This could result in a lack of varietals to taste at a given location, or tasting room attendants being unfamiliar with what is or isn’t vegan and possibly giving visitors incorrect information.
Established in 2000 and located in Mattituck, New York, Shinn Estate Vineyards was the first on Long Island to be certified sustainable 2012 by Long Island Sustainable Winegrowing; a third-party nonprofit that the original vineyard owner, Barbara Shinn, co-founded. The vineyard is noted as a pioneer in bringing sustainable and biodynamic farming practices to Long Island.
Varying from light and crisp to deep and full-bodied, Shinn Estate’s wines are crafted with care and excellence courtesy of winemaker Patrick Caserta, and embody the best of what the region has to offer. Though not exclusively a vegan establishment, the winery’s now sold-out 2015 Wild Boar Doe, a blend of all five of its red varietals (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec), was the only non-vegan wine out of its current releases.
Each of the winery’s red varietals is fermented only with the yeast naturally occurring on the grapes’ skin and in the soil. The Diaphanous, first released in 2013, is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc, and produced without the addition of sulfites at any stage during the process—the only ingredient literally being the grapes themselves. The 2014 vintage is available for $18 a glass and $55 a bottle.
The 2016 “First Fruit” Sauvignon Blanc ($10 a glass; $22 a bottle), aptly named because its grapes are the first picked at the beginning of each harvest, is stainless steel fermented and clean, citrusy, and bright. A yet-to-be released Sauvignon Blanc is currently fermenting in an exciting, recent addition to the vineyard’s winemaking arsenal: An egg-shaped concrete tank made from French clay, designed by Marc Nomblot. Look for the vintage release sometime this spring.
Last June, Shinn Estate introduced its 2016 Rose Hill Rosé, a blend of Merlot, Chardonnay, and Gewürtraminer ($10 a glass; $24 a bottle), and a lighter, crisper option to the 2016 Rosé, which is made from 100% Merlot.
Shinn Estate is also known for its small production wines. The winery’s 2015 Seven Barrels ($14 a glass; $38 a bottle), a blend of seven barrels’ worth of Estate Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Petit Verdot, is oak fermented and gloriously earthy, with blackberry notes and a long finish. The 2012 Grace ($23 a glass; $75 a bottle), is a blend of only three barrels’ worth of Estate Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon and appropriately named, as it’s graceful with a nice bite, full-bodied, and deeply concentrated.
The vineyard’s tasting room offers an intimate experience. Traditional tastings are available seven days a week. Barrel tours and private tastings are also available by reservation and a fee. Vegan or not, it’s definitely a place worth visiting. For more information, call Shinn Estate Vineyards at 631-804-0367 or email at Info@ShinnEstateVineyards.com.