Following a spate of recent winery sales and vineyard acquisitions on New York's Long Island, the owners of Schneider Vineyards announced that they have purchased 22 acres of land in Riverhead, on the North Fork. The former potato farm will be used to produce Schneider's first estate-grown wine, a Cabernet Franc-based blend.
The purchase is the foundation of a $1.5 million expansion planned for Schneider Vineyards, which was founded in 1994 by Bruce and Christiane Baker Schneider, both 30. Until now, the couple has been buying fruit from other Long Island vineyards -- including Macari, Martha Clara and Palmer -- for their Schneider Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Chardonnay as well as for their Potato Barn red and white blends.
In April, the Schneiders will begin planting four grape varieties on their new property, including several clones new to Long Island. The vineyard will consist of 10 acres of four Cabernet Franc clones, 5 acres of three Merlot clones, 1 acre of Malbec and 1 acre of Cabernet Sauvignon. Once the new vineyard is in full production, the couple plans to bottle 2,000 cases per year of the Cabernet Franc blend while continuing with their other wines.
The Schneiders have found success with Cabernet Franc in the past; their 1995 bottling, made by Long Island pioneer Kip Bedell, earned a rating of 90 points on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale.
"We feel that the vineyard site we have selected ... will enable us to make a Cabernet-Franc based wine that will continue to show why this is one of the best regions in the world to grow this variety," said Christiane, who oversees the viticultural operations while Bruce handles the winemaking.
To handle their new production, the Schneiders will be converting a barn on the property to a 5,000-case winery, which is scheduled to be completed by spring 2001. They will also transform a second barn into a tasting room, which should be ready to welcome visitors this summer. The couple will be moving from Brooklyn to the North Fork later this spring.
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