It was a beautiful evening last Saturday, when Paumanok Vineyard’s first bubbly, the 2009 Blanc de Blanc, made its debut. The occasion was the 30th anniversary celebration of the Massoud family’s winery in Aquebogue, and a couple hundred people strolled under a tent on the winery lawn, enjoying Paumanok wines like the 2010 Assemblage, and amazing food from a dozen of the region’s top chefs and food producers. Charles and Ursula Massoud, and their three sons who are all involved with the family business, Saleem, Kareem and Nabeel, and their partners were at hand. It was great to see them all happy and well—especially Saleem’s wife Gloria who is expecting twins this fall. Southampton Oyster Company and Aeros Oyster Company from Southold shucked up a storm, and Fresh restaurant on Shelter Island served delectable grilled and fried oysters three ways. There was barbecue spiced tuna crudo from H2O in Smithtown, cabernet franc braised McCall beef from North Fork Table & Inn in Southold, plump scallops from Sea Levels in Brightwaters and Moroccan duck ragout from North Fork pioneer chef John Ross, and more.
Guest speaker Doug Geed of Channel 12 News did the honors, Suffolk County Legislator and local farmer Al Krupski presented awards of appreciation, and a truly impressive line-up of chefs including Tom Schaudel, Gerry Hayden and Claudia Fleming, Michael Meehan and Aldo Maiorana toasted the Massouds. Charles, who chose the winemaking life over a career with IBM, delved into a little family history, and by the time Ursula got to the mic, the hugs and happy tears threatened to take over. It all wound up with dancing and music from Tom Schaudel’s band The Hurricanes. The evening commemorated the Massoud family’s start in the Long Island wine business in the spring of 1983, when Charles and Ursula first began planting their 103-acre estate with the help of their sons. The ticketed event also raised money for the Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead; Aldo won a long and dramatic bidding war for a very large, signed bottle of Paumanok 30th Anniversary Special Edition wine.