“Where do we start?” Meador asks as he walks through a gate separating his house from his vineyard. “How many owners have you interviewed coming off the field muddy and dog tired?”
He removes his soaked work gloves and assures me his stained yellow hands are due to a dye; it’s not jaundice, he laughs, while reaching out to shake my hand. The family winery is Meador’s project; he works the land himself and lives right in the middle of it. Nine acres are currently planted, and he plans to plant nine more with varieties that work best in the region, even if they aren’t the most popular or well known.
“This spot,” he says, “as far as vineyards go, is one of the best spots in Southold.” The property is on one of the town’s highest points on a southwestern-facing slope that provides a full day of sun. It has no trees, which always allows for a breeze. The constant air circulation and sun exposure dries out the plants and prevents mold and disease caused by excess moisture.
All in the family. Regan Meador and his wife, Carey, tend the vines.
To decide what to grow, Meador researched climates similar to the East End and found parallels to our maritime climate in parts of Italy, mostly in the northeast.
One strain grown at Southold Farm and Cellar is teroldego, which has been compared to pinot noir and syrah. The grape thrives in a sandy loam and a climate tempered by large bodies of water, according to Southold Farm + Cellar’s website. In addition, Meador planted three acres of lagrein. It produces a deep red wine that is still food friendly. Goldmuskateller is the winery’s unique white wine. The vineyard’s website describes it as “yellow to golden in color with a distinctive scent of muscat, citrus fruits and baked apple with a firm acidity.”
The philosophy at Southold Farm + Cellar is to be very hands on when farming the grapes. Creating a high-quality product and yield allows the fruit to speak for itself, says Meador.
His unique varietals will not be mature enough to produce wine for a few years; in the meantime he is buying 100 percent certified organic grapes from Rex Farr’s vineyard, the Farrm, in Calverton.
For one wine, Meador bought organic cabernet franc from Farr; whole clusters were fermented uncrushed with the stems and everything. Meador says this creates a semi-carbonic effect producing a rich but light wine.
“We let the fruit do what it wants to do,” he says. “It creates a lot of earthiness; it’s light, and the color is ridiculous.”
Southold Farm + Cellar offers a subscription that provides customers with two bottles of each wine it produces. The tasting room will be open Saturdays and Sundays and the rest of the week will be by appointment—so that Meador has time to work in the field.
Find out More: To read an excerpt from Eileen M. Duffy’s upcoming book about Long Island wine, click here.