Having spent much of the last couple of decades with my nose in a glass of wine, I like to occasionally look up and get to know the people that devote themselves to growing grapes, and making wine.
They are special people. Some come from winemaking families and like other farm families carry on the tradition of making wine from generation to generation. Others take great lateral leaps in life and jump into the wine biz, hopefully feet first, from some totally unrelated enterprise.
Walter Channing, founder of in Bridgehampton, New York, is of the latter type as is the team that makes the wine magic. Channing Daughters' story is especially interesting and it's hard to taste through their unique range of wines without wanting to know whose creative imagination came up with these wonderful wines. This is not your average chocolate and vanilla Chardonnay and Merlot winery.
Walter Channing began as a successful venture captialist as founder of C.W. Group with a penchant for wood sculpting first from recovered wood from demolished New York City piers and then at his Bridgehampton location from unearthed tree stumps. To me his work from the natural forms of the nethers of trees evokes some humor, as well as irony at the kinship between these beautiful forms and the human body, they're tree spirits if you will. The vineyards were planted here in Bridgehampton in 1982 and the winery and surrounding areas are decorated with his art. Here's video of the sculpture garden from the POV of the "humansphere."
Chris Tracy continually pushes the envelope as winemaker. I get the feeling he is out to try every combination of grapes, barrels and winemaking technology possible. It may come from the love of wine of a former sommelier and the innovative nature of a former Manhattan chef. As he says, “It's just the magic of giving the wines some love” and "we seek deliciousness." As far as I’m concerned they seek delicousness every way possible and definitely think outside of the box in their approach. Producing some 7,000 cases a year spread out over about 26 separate bottling, they use well known varieties like Chardonnay and Merlot as well as more esoteric varieties like Tocai Friulano and different clones of Muscat for whites. The cool climate red varieties like Refosco, Lagrein and Blaufrankisch make sense given the fairly cool climate of Long Island. He experiments with all sorts of blends, fermentation techniques, even oak from france, America, Hungary and Slovenia. Here's video of Chris engaged in the 2010 crush.
See the line up for our tasting at Mora's this weekend.
I recommend a visit before the summer craziness of the Hamptons begins.
Channing Daughters Winery
1927 Scuttlehole Road, Bridgehampton NY 11932