Pugliese Vineyards

Winemaking in Long Island’s North Fork has been going on long enough that there are beginning to be two types of wineries.  The first is the pioneers, built by the hardy individuals who thought they could make quality wine where once potatoes grew…and to a greater or lesser extent, they’ve done it.  The other is the newcomers, building on the success of the pioneers but bringing a lot of money earned doing something else, such as software or manufacturing.  Pugliese Vineyards (www.pugliesevineyards.com) is one of the oldest of the pioneers.

Established in 1980, Pugliese was and is a family enterprise.  The founding father has passed away but his wife is still to be found in the tasting room, dispensing wine, gifts and advice.  We’ve learned that there are now five generations involved in production and sales.  For those of us with respect for tradition in winemaking, this fact alone is a reason to visit the winery.

Photo courtesy of Foursquare.

The building housing the tasting room is simple, made of white clapboard.  There is a touch of a farmhouse about it.  But really, don’t visit Pugliese for the architecture.  Find a perfect warm afternoon, with blue skies and lots of sunshine.  That’s the time to come to this winery.

Around the aforementioned building are acres of lawns, trees, a lake with a fountain in it and, gloriously, a long pergola covered in vines with plentiful picnic tables below it.  You can bring a picnic or buy cheeses, cold cuts, snacks and olives on the premises, all designed to accompany the wines.  (Hint to the owners: they should offer Pugliese bread.)  Most of Long Island is flat; Pugliese isn’t exactly hilly, but they do bill themselves as “The Winery in the Hollow”, which only adds to its attractiveness.  As is the case with many North Fork wineries, Pugliese does a side business in weddings.  We can see why people would want to get married there.

Like many Long Island vineyards, Pugliese makes wine from a wide variety of grapes: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Gewurztraminer and Niagara, to be exact.  We have often said that this is an error by the local wineries.  Yes, they want to appeal to all tastes, but we think they would all be better off making better wine from fewer varietals.  We notice that some of the newcomers are also doing this.

Pugliese takes great pride in their sparkling wines, which they still call Champagne.  Of course, by law the real thing comes from that place in France, but Pugliese has been making their sparklers long enough that they were allowed to continue using the term as long as they identify it as coming from Long Island on the label.  They have four of them, and you can try a flight of all four.

To be honest, we don’t find Pugliese’s wines to be to our tastes.  That’s really unimportant.  For one thing, Power Tasting isn’t about the wines but about the wine tasting experience, and the experience at Pugliese is great.  Moreover, it seems that they have developed a dedicated following.  Whenever we have been there, we have seen groups of visitors buying lots of wine and enjoying it quite a lot.

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