Dr. Dan can be credited with increasing interest in wine among locals through education. He did this by offering free tours of his vineyards, wine-making facilities and barrel room. Guides would teach visitors about the growing, production and storage process, followed by a wine tasting. Through that, wine became more accessible to Long Islanders, giving way to growing wine sales.
In addition to being the biggest, Pindar Vineyards is also the oldest winery under continuous family management. Over the years Dr. Damianos has transitioned more management responsibility to his children. For instance, his son Jason is currently the Director of Winemaking (as well as having started his own venture, Jason’s Vineyard), his son Pindar is the Vineyard Manager, and his daughter Alethea the CFO.
Not surprisingly, Pindar’s tasting room is much larger than many of its North Fork peers. The large wrap-around bar in the center of the room provides plenty of space to accommodate a high volume of tasters. The staff behind the bar were quite efficient, and apt to manage a large crowd; but they did not seem overly insightful relative to staff at a number of other wineries in the area. The overall experience felt a little more like a flow shop - in other words, not a place you’d want to come and “hang out” out with a good glass of wine.
|Pindar's tasting room|
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 Glasses (Satisfactory)
All told, Dr. Dan’s contributions and success in managing his business have certainly been a driving force behind the broader growth of North Fork wine. But to me, Pindar’s claim to fame is centered around quantity more than quality. Generally, the wines I tasted had some good length, but none were particularly distinctive. That said, I could see how they could appeal to a less discerning palate.
I will give credit to Pindar for using some very clever and visually alluring wine labels. If I was a consumer tasked with selecting one among many bottles of Long Island wines, I’d most likely reach for one of the Pindar bottles. And today, within the segment of consumers with little wine knowledge, that’s an effective way to separate yourself from the pack.
While it’s not a place I’d be eager to visit again to sample new vintages or varietals, Pindar is one of the quintessential North Fork institutions you should visit at least once, to check it off your Long Island wine “bucket list”.
Tasting options include any 5 wines, from a choice of about 16, for $4. Tastings of any reserve, specialty or limited edition wines can be done for $2 each.
2008 Sauvingon Blanc (The 2009 vintage is now available)
Color: Golden yellow
Nose: Musky, some citrus fruits
This wine lacked the characteristic lively acid you can find a number of other North Fork Sauvignon Blancs. This wine tasted more like a buttery Chardonnay than a Sauvignon Blanc, with a hint of honeysuckle, followed by a bitter finish. Because so many other North Fork wineries have created some fun, lively Sauvignon Blancs, I thought Pindar would too. This was a disappointment.
2009 Peacock Chardonnay
Color: This was more straw colored than the Sauvignon Blanc
Nose: Sweet fruits, pear, with some musty notes. The nose was subtle at first, but opened up after a few minutes.
This was more acidic than the Sauvignon Blanc, with some juicy pear, and decent fruit along the center of my tongue. It actually carried some decent length for a white. All told, some light, crisp fruit, but didn’t get much supplemental flavor from the oak. This was the favorite of the day.
Pythagoras (Bordeaux Blend)
Color: Magenta crimson, fairly transparent
Nose: Potent red fruit, green peppers
Spicy at first. Very light and soft with decent length, but no tannins. Wasn’t particularly memorable, but it goes down easy.
Color - Similar to the Pythagoras, some brown hues
Nose - Sweet red fruit, and some earthy barnyard
Spicy at first like the Pythagoras, but more tannic. Also light, but overall non-descript. As you drink more, you get more length, but a sour finish also starts to develop.
Color: Burgundy, transparent
Nose: Not as much fruit as the other reds. Once it opened up, you can smell some raisins with a trace of barnyard. I would have expected more pepper and barnyard with a Cabernet Franc like this.
Like the other reds, it’s spicy at first, with some decent fruit coming in after the first few seconds, followed by a vegetal finish.