Anthony Nappa Launches Long Island’s First Certified Organic Wine
Local organic food lovers can now make wine part of that lifestyle.
Anthony Nappa Wines launched Bordo Antico last month, the first certified organic wine grown and produced on Long Island. It is also the first bottle of vitis vinifera, that is, a common grape variety, certified organic, grown and produced in all of New York State.
“It’s a pretty cool barrier to break,” said Nappa, who, in addition to his own label, owns The Winegrower’s Workshop and is a winemaker at Raphael Winery, both in Peconic. “For me, if you tell me something is impossible, I’m like, ‘Let’s do this’.”
Although this is the region’s first organic bottle, a farmer, Rex Farr of Calverton, has been harvesting organic grapes since 2011. Mr. Farr has sold his grapes to local wineries, although none has received certification to produce organic wine.
“This is an important milestone for Long Island,” said Long Island Wine Council Chairman and Wölffer Estate Vineyard partner and winemaker Roman Roth. “Once the region is established, more and more people will try to go further. It shows that Long Island has come a long way.
Bordo Antico is made from 100% Cabernet Franc grapes grown on Farr’s 55-acre property, The Farrm, which, after planting vines in 2005, became the region’s first and only certified organic vineyard.
There, Farr grows four acres of Cabernet Franc, two acres of Merlot, and three acres of Malbec, Petit Verdot, and Carmenere in addition to his other organic crops.
Growing organic grapes on Long Island is a challenge, Farr said, which is demonstrated by the fact that he’s the only certified local grower. Humidity contributes to weed growth, mold and attracts certain pests, he said.
“It’s not something you can turn on and off,” he said of organic farming. “Your soil needs time to recover.”
Farr attributed his success to trial and error over 30 years of organic and biodynamic farming. Some of his methods include a mechanical cultivator for weed control and the use of copper sulphate, which is an approved way to control fungus.
“I really appreciate Anthony, who doesn’t combine our grapes with someone else’s,” Farr said. “That would defeat the purpose of growing organic grapes.”
Nappa uses no additives and the wine is wild yeast fermented in stainless steel.
“This wine added little from start to finish,” he said.
The result is a medium-bodied, balanced wine with great acidity, Nappa said, adding that it pairs well with Italian cuisine. He recommends serving it slightly chilled.
“It’s an excellent summer red wine,” he says.
The name Bordo Antico is used to indicate that this bottle is different from the Bordo Nappa Cabernet Franc released in recent years, although it is made in the same style.
In years when organic fruit is not available, Nappa will market the wine under the Bordo name.
Last year, Anthony Nappa Wines, which produces in Raphael, became the third New York winery to receive organic certification, according to NOFA-NY. One of the other two wineries is Royal Wine, which has launched a blend of organic Concord grapes under the Marlboro-based Kedem Winery label. The other is City Winery in Manhattan, which mainly makes imported wines.
Bordo Antico ($22) is available at Winemaker Studio and anthonynappawines.com. You can also order it by the glass at Grana at Jamesport, First and South and Brix & Ryeboth in Greenport and Hellenic snack bar and restaurant in East Marion.
Top photo: Anthony Nappa with a bottle of Anthony Nappa Wines Bordo Antico, the first certified organic wine grown and produced on Long Island. (Credit: Vera Chinese)