Anthony Nappa has made wine all over the globe, from New Zealand to Italy, California to Massachusetts. In 2007, he joined the Long Island wine community as the head winemaker for Shinn Estate Vineyards. That same year he established his own eponymous label, under which he produces several wines, including white pinot noir and Italian-style cabernet franc. In 2011, he and his wife, chef Sarah Evans Nappa, opened the Winemaker Studio, a cooperative tasting room that showcases bottles from several local winemakers. Today, Anthony works as the head winemaker for Raphael Vineyards and continues to experiment with his own label. I asked him a few questions about local food pairings and his winemaking philosophy.
Describe your winemaking philosophy.
The unique character of the North Fork is what dictates my wine style and makes it so unique. Our wines have naturally balanced chemistry, allowing me to make wines without additives or adulteration from the time that we pick our fruit to bottling. With moderate alcohol, I am able to wild ferment all of our wines, and by using modern techniques I am able to produce clean wines without filtration or fining.
I use different fermentation techniques for all of our different styles to accentuate each varietal, but the common thread is a focus on structure and balance.
Tell us about your wines.
I prefer wines that are structured and full bodied with a full middle and long finish. We have plenty of fruit and acid in our wines here on Long Island, but what makes my wines unique is that they are tannin driven, often with little or no oak. I use different fermentation techniques for all of our different styles to accentuate each varietal, but the common thread is a focus on structure and balance.
What’s your favorite pairing with local food?
Seafood! There is nothing like just caught local fish from Southold Fish Market. Our wines are acid driven and pair perfectly—not just our whites, but also our medium bodied low oaked reds. Try an untraditional summer pairing: slightly chilled red wine with fresh fish or shellfish.
What brought you (the winery) to Long Island?
I’m from Massachusetts originally, so I was interested in living on the East Coast. After checking out East Coast wines over time, I could see the most interesting place on the East Coast to make wine is the North Fork. I came here in 2007 when I saw an ad for a winemaking position.
What’s your favorite event with your wine club?
We love our wine club members, many of whom have been with us and supported us from the beginning. Our members are like family. My wife Sarah is a chef, so our events have always been food focused. We have a lot of plans in the works for the future of our winery and club. Things move slow because we have two small children, but we’ll have a lot to offer our members in the future as far as private events and benefits to club membership.
What’s special about visiting your tasting room?
The wine! The Winemaker Studio in “downtown” Peconic (about a block long) offers a very small and intimate experience. We sell our wines there as well as those of other local winemakers.
What’s next or new at the winery?
We have many new wines. Often the production is very small and only available in the tasting room or through our wine club.
Where can people buy your wine?