As a lover of poetry, I can’t help but be attracted to a winery that not only uses the Native American name Walt Whitman adopted for Long Island, but also quotes his poetry on their labels. Their pleasant outdoor deck overlooking the vines is another reason to go there, and some of the wines are not bad, either!
We went there with my brother and sister-in-law and their large well-behaved dog on a warm sunny day in September, and were happy to discover that they allow leashed dogs on the deck. Our table was next to a bush full of Monarch butterflies, and my sister-in-law informed me it was a butterfly bush. Aha. We did have to walk inside for each new taste, but that also gave us a chance to chat with the servers, who were all quite pleasant, including one young woman from France, who informed us that Paumanok has an internship program with her school in Toulouse. So that explains why the last time I was there I also had a French server.
The menu offers a flight of four whites or four reds, each for $12, so we decided each couple would share a flight of the whites and then the reds. Because my brother bought at least four bottles of wine, the tastings were free. The menu includes other options, which let you taste their sweet wines, their rosés, and their “Grand Vintage,” or premium wines. Almost all of their wines have screw tops, so if you are cork-averse, these are a good option.
We also decided to get the Lombardi cheese and salami board for $20, which included a small loaf of bread, olives, dried apricots, and fig cake. They have a small menu of other snacks, and don’t allow outside food.
- 2016 Chenin Blanc $28
Our server proudly pointed out that this is their signature wine, and that theirs is the only completely estate-grown chenin blanc in New York State. They have reason to be excited about this wine, which we all really liked. The aroma is grassy and herbal, and the taste starts fruity with citrus at the end, plus notes of minerality. My brother said it was “like a mountain stream running over granite.” We decided it would be good with food, and found that to be true that evening when we had it with scallop ceviche and grilled striped bass. We bought the fish at Braun’s, of course.
- 2015 Festival Chardonnay $18.99
As I surmised, given its position in the flight, this is their steel-fermented chard. My sister-in-law found the aroma sweet, and I thought maybe like orange blossoms. My brother agreed, but added steel pipes. It’s quite dry and light, and evanesces quickly. I said like putting your tongue on a flagpole. We had some disagreement as to how much we liked it, though we thought it would be good with food. My husband suggested mac and cheese, I mentioned carbonara, and my brother said it reminded him of an Italian wine. My sister-in-law didn’t like the after-taste.
- 2015 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay $24
Because they use neutral French oak barrels for the eight months of fermentation, this is lighter and not as strongly butter-scotchy as some oaked chards. We found if quite pleasant, with aromas of vanilla and butterscotch and a taste that we compared to caramel cone ice cream with a lemony finish. Of course, it would go well with roast chicken.
- 2016 Dry Riesling $22
One of the servers was particularly well-informed, and she let us know that this riesling has no residual sugars. The shorter the fermentation time, she told us, the drier the riesling. We liked this white, too. The aroma combines honeysuckle with a touch of something chemical, perhaps camphor. It hits the tongue with tart fruit, including greengage plums and some apricot. You wouldn’t necessarily identify it as a riesling from taste alone, we decided, and you wouldn’t want it with spicy food. But it might be very good with charcuterie.
- 2015 Festival Red $19.99
Now we switched to the reds, which they poured into the same glasses we had used for the whites. This is a blend of 52% cabernet sauvignon and 48% merlot, with aromas of cherry and black current, plus spice. Nutmeg? It’s very dry and light, and our comments included “not much there,” “not enough fruit,” and “no complexity.” My sister-in-law detected something “chalky” at the end. We were not excited, though it is drinkable.
- 2015 Cabernet Franc $28
Ooh, we liked this one much better. Aromas of plums, leather, tobacco, and dark chocolate and tastes of complex fruits made this our favorite of the reds. It has some tannins, and is elegant, not earthy. We thought it would go well with venison, and my brother bought some bottles of it.
- 2013 Merlot $28
As usual, the merlot smells like black cherry and tastes like cherries and other dark stone fruits. First my brother said it would be a good burger wine, but then he said, “The more I drink it the less I like it.” My husband joked, “That doesn’t sound like a good business plan.” The wine is light and rather monochromatic.
- 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon $28
The aroma is similar to the cabernet franc, but the taste is not as good. No depth, we agree, and though it has dark fruit tastes there is no complexity. My sister-in-law says it has a “watery” finish. Meh.
Reasons to visit: lovely outdoor deck with views over the vineyards; pleasant servers; the Chenin Blanc and, to a lesser extent, the other whites; the Cabernet Franc; you can bring your dog if you sit outside.