Wine campers participate in harvest.
Enjoying wine? That’s easy. Learning about wine? That’s a lifelong process, and it can be a little hit-or-miss. Some of us do it the hard way. We go to wineries and bother the winemakers with endless questions, and hang out with wine geeks that, after a glass or three, literally cannot shut up about merlot, or whatever their obsession is. We form little tasting groups involving hors d’oeuvres, read thick books about wines we’d have to win the lottery to taste, do wine courses, and when lucky, travel to wine regions around the world. OK, so none of that is actually hard; in fact it’s great fun, but it takes time.
These days, for those who want a cram course with all the information in one place, and also want to have a good time, there’s Wine Camp. And if you’ve already graduated Wine Camp, your “master’s degree” is next …
Wine Camp has been educating wine lovers about wine, from vine to bottle, since 2005. Based on the North Fork, it’s a four-day, grownups-only wine and food experience that includes visits to wineries, fine dining, educational seminars, accommodations and, of course, lots of wine tasting. The thing is, there are now more than 700 alumni of Wine Camp as well as returning guests from Australia, California, Texas, the Bahamas and people from all over the East Coast. Apparently, they have been asking for more, so now there’s also Master Camp, a brand-new curriculum designed to build on what Wine Camp alumni already know.
Harvest at the Old Field Vineyards.
“Our vision for Master Camp is to take our Wine Camp graduates to the next level,” says Darolyn Augusta, who with her husband Chris owns the Harvest Inn bed-and-breakfast in Peconic and who started the first wine camp.
Wine Camp covers vineyard work, the chemistry of wine making, the differences between stainless steel and oak barrel fermentation, wine blending, sensory tastings, and food and wine pairings. Campers visit eight wineries and vineyards, eat in the vineyards for lunch and dine at the North Fork Table & Inn and Castello di Borghese, and bring home a case of wine.
Master Camp, starting in September 2015, will involve tasting rare library wines, doing regional comparisons with a sommelier, and learning about local sparkling wine, spirits and beer production. Local agriculture compared to viticulture will be studied, and a special harvest dinner will be held in the vines. The curriculum is still under development, said Augusta, and more events and seminars will be added. Go to www.winecamp.org for more information.