WINE Q&A: Ami Opisso of Lieb Cellars & Bridge Lane Wine

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Lieb Cellars is an 85-acre sustainably farmed vineyard on the North Fork of Long Island. Directed by Australian-born winemaker Russell Hearn, Lieb is known nationally for their pinot blanc and sparkling wines as well as their Bridge Lane label, which includes alternative formats, such as disposable kegs and boxed wines. (Think “farm to box.” ) I asked their general manager and certified sommelier Ami Opisso a few questions about local food pairings and what makes their tasting room so special.

What’s your favorite pairing with local food?
My favorite local pairing is oysters friskafella and a glass of Bridge Lane Rosé on tap at Frisky Oyster. Those oysters are like bites of heaven, and the acidity and fruitiness of the rosé perfectly balances the brininess and richness of the oysters and parmesan aioli.

What brought you to Long Island?
I grew up on the North Fork. After graduating college, I worked in advertising and marketing for several wine and spirits brands in New York City and Chicago. In 2010, I came home over a holiday vacation and went wine tasting with my sister. I met the owner of a winery who asked if I’d be interested in returning to the North Fork and managing her new tasting room. I said no way, then called her back a few weeks later and said yes.

What wine would you drink for your final meal?
Krug Rosé. Hands down.

Where can people buy your wine?
Lieb and Bridge Lane wines are currently distributed in six states in the Northeast, and we will expand to the Mid-Atlantic soon. Of course, you can also buy our wines at our two tasting rooms on the North Fork.

What’s your favorite event with your wine club?
Our winery is a commercial custom crush facility where we do contract winemaking for other smaller wineries, so we can’t give regular tours of the space. But, every summer we bring our wine club members into the barrel room, decorate the space with string lights and flowers, and Russell, our winemaker, leads a tasting of our unfinished wines in barrel. Our tasting room manager Alicia, a classically-trained chef, makes small plates to pair with each wine. It’s a special day. We look forward to it each year.

What’s special about visiting your tasting room?
Our Bridge Lane tasting room in Mattituck is set up like a wine bar with bench seating, a cool modern aesthetic and wines on tap. There’s also a big picnic area, so we encourage people to bring a lunch and grab a box of wine to share with friends. It’s a relaxed, casual vibe. Our Lieb Cellars tasting room on Oregon Road is a hidden gem. It’s a converted barn adjacent to our vineyards and offers a front deck with stunning farm views and fire pits in the fall. I think the other thing that sets us apart is how dedicated and smart our staff is. They’re all sommeliers (or in the process of becoming one). They’ll treat you like family.

Check out Q&A from your favorite personalities in Long Island Wine Country.

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Jeff Simpson is an Oklahoman living in New York. He also writes about music and sad things, loves whiskey and wine, and is currently working on several books he may never finish.