As a Sommelier I am often asked “What do you think about New York wines, and have you been out to the wineries?” Truthfully I have not been out to the North Fork of Long Island, however I have visited the Hudson Valley a few times and the wines are wonderful. Until I get out to this famed area of Long Island, I had the chance to travel in my glass with Lieb Cellars and Suhru Wines and wow, was I smitten!

I have been a fan of Lieb Cellars, a certified sustainable winery in the North Fork of Long Island. They are influenced by the unique maritime climate here and their grapes are grown on three vineyard sites totaling 54 acres, all situated on sandy-loam soils that are less than a mile from the Long Island Sound or Peconic Bay. They cultivate 11 vinifera varieties: Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Teroldego, Lagrein, and Gold Muskateller. Their vines are among the oldest on Long Island and produce such elegant and approachable food-friendly wines. At Lieb Cellars, they prioritize sustainability by using organic and low-impact pesticides sparingly and controlling weed growth mechanically instead of with chemicals like Round Up. For pest control, they use physical barriers such as deer fencing and bird netting. Their sustainable practices include hand harvesting, which reduces gas consumption and carbon pollution, benefits the local economy, and eco-friendly packaging, which lowers our carbon footprint.

I had the pleasure of tasting two amazing wines from Lieb recently which were the Sparkling Pinot Blanc and the 2020 Estate Teroldego-Langerin. The sparkling wine is made in the traditional method and is 100% Pinot Blanc. It sees on average about 22 months of age on the lees before being disgorged in small lots to guarantee a crisp, elegant, and fresh wine. This brut style bubbly boasts a nose of green apple, pear, and honey with great acidity and refreshing notes of yeast and citrus.  It’s delightful for an aperitif or with some lighter dishes and is $58 which is a very good price for a wine of this caliber. The 2020 Estate Teroldego-Langerin is a unique wine showcasing some Northern Italian varietals. Blackberry notes fill the glass followed by some cooked dark fruit, but not necessarily jammy fruit, more mineral driven with a slight “char” note. It’s a deep, dark, expressive wine that could really pair well with grilled foods for summer and at $30 it’s a no brainer this should be your next BBQ bash wine.

Now how does Suhru Wines tie in? Well, as a family-run winery established in 2008, it was a dream realized by Susan and Russell, whose shared passion for wine that blossomed throughout their life together. Russell introduced Susan to the intricate world of wine, igniting a joint enthusiasm that ultimately inspired the creation of Suhru Wines.

Having lived on the East End of Long Island for over three decades, the family has deeply connected with the region and become an integral part of the local community. They embrace the area’s local seafood, fresh produce, and beautiful landscape, infusing the sense of community and family into each wine they create. I had the pleasure of tasting the 2021 La Crescent which is so approachable and easy to drink with bursts of freshness and hints of sweetness. This varietal is new, a hybrid developed at the University of Minnesota and this is their second release. This wine has hints of lime, grapefruit, and lemon zest with nice acidity and lingering freshness thats ideal with cheese boards, summer watermelon inspired salads, as well as seafood. At $21 a bottle, this wine a great buy!  I also had the pleasure of tasting the 2022 Rosé which is currently OOS but if it does come back in or you can try the next vintage I highly encourage you to do so! This wine is very Provence in style with raspberry and cranberry notes that follow through to an elegant and delicious finish. This wine is ideal for weeknight meals like chicken and smoked steak.

How do these wineries tie together you may ask? Well, in October of 2023 it was announced that longtime winemaker Russell Hearn along with business partners John & Renee Fondacaro, Susan Hearn, Shelby Hearn Ulrich and Brad Ulrich purchased the Lieb Cellars brand, tasting room and 54-acre vineyard. They have since opened the tasting room back up and it’s doing better than ever.

See and taste Long Island yourself, you’ll absolutely fall in love with these really fantastic wines. Always remember, eat what you like and drink what you love. Please pair responsibly!