People have been making wine for millennium, with the first evidence of winemaking dating back to sometime between 8000 B.C. and 4100 B.C. However since the beginning the challenge has always been how to store the wine once it was made.
Glass bottles were not used in wine on a large scale until the 17th century, although they were different shapes—squat, with large bases and short necks—than the wine bottles today. It wasn’t until the 1820s that glass wine bottles began to resemble the ones we use today.
The main reason for the delay in the adoption of glass bottles for wine storage was that for centuries it was illegal to sell wine in a bottle. There were so many different bottle types (and volume variations) that it was far too easy to cheat, so merchants measured out wine from their barrels into containers that customers supplied themselves to ensure accurance.
In the 17th century that all changed. Up until the 17th century glass bottles were considered a luxury item due to the fact that they were made to order and handcrafted in a wood or charcoal furnace. Bottles were a time consuming product to make and therefore very expensive. However in 1615, King James I decided that English forests were better used to make warships. Wood was in short supply so manufacturers turned to coal, which burned hotter and produced stronger glass.
Sir Kenelm Digby is cited as “the father of the modern bottle” for discovering a process that resulted in stronger bottles that were able to be made and distributed on a wider scale. A controversial adventurer, privateer and alchemist Sir Digby was known for turning sand into gold by adding some secret ingredients (metals and oxides) and using a blower system to get the fire even hotter. His new formula produced glass bottles that were stronger, thicker, darker—and cheaper thus bringing a stronger better suited glass bottle to market.
This discovery made glass more widely available, but it wasn’t until the 1900s that mass production began. In 1887, an English company created a semi-automatic machine that could produce up to 200 bottles an hour. Over the years this process has been pefected and refined to allow modern machines to produce more than 600 containers per minute.
Did you know? Decanting red wine separates the wine from any sediment in the bottle. Decanted wines often taste softer, because the act of decanting adds oxygen to the wine softening the tannins in the wine.
What is decanting?
Decanting is simply the process of pouring (decanting) the wine from one container (usually a bottle) into another, the decanter. The wine is often then served directly into the glass from the decanter itself.
Why decant wine?
This process is not necessary with every wine, but is usually reserved with older, heavier wines (think our T'Jara Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot). Aged, heavier red wines often have sediment at the bottom of the bottle, which if disturbed can end up in your glass. The process of decanting separates the wine from the sediment, making for a more enjoyable drinking experience. The sediment itself, is harmless to drink but can make the wine taste more astringent and will often give the wine a gritty mouth feel.
Another reason to decant is to aerate the wine. This is generally most beneficial to younger wines that may taste a little "tight" when first opening, as well as highly tannic and full-bodied wines. This is often why people talk about opening a wine to let it "breathe;" decanting or aerating the wine speeds up this process, ensure the wine is ready to drink when you are. Swirling your wine in the glass is another way to aerate your wine.
How do I decant?
To decant a wine, you will need a bottle of wine, a small flashlight (or the flashlight on your smart phone), and a decanter (this can be any 750ml or larger vessel). Prior to decanting your wine, let the wine rest upright in the bottle for an hour or so to let the sediment settle to the bottom of the bottle. Then, with your flashlight in hand, slowly pour the contents of the bottle into your decanter. Once about half of the bottle's contents have been poured into the decanter, place the flashlight under the neck of the bottle to illuminate the stream of wine so you can better see the sediment. Once you start to see a cloudy haze in the wine, stop pouring the wine into the decanter.
You will usually have about a glass of wine remaining, so to ensure that you can enjoy every last drop of this very nice wine you have just decanted, pour the remaining wine from the bottle into a glass or Champagne flute. This will allow any remaining sediment to once again settle to the bottom of the glass. Once the wine has settled, you can repeat the process and pour the clear wine off the remaining sediment.
Mother's Day weekend is one of our favorite Spring weekends, it is the indicator we have all been waiting for to announce that Spring has officially arrived! Everyone is outside gardening, spending time in the backyard, and enjoying a day with mother nature after the long winter and rainy Spring!
With the current world health crisis going on, this Mother's Day is going to look a little different for everyone so we wanted to share a few helpful hints for making the most of the weekend, while maintaining social distancing.
What to Give Mom the Mother's Day
Whether you are going to be together for Mother's Day or celebrating from a far, Mom still deserves a great day!
Keep it Classic: Wine & Flowers
Looking for a classic gift this Mother's Day? We have partnered with our local florist—Blooms by Design—to offer beautiful floral bouquets paired with a bottle of wine for a classic Mother's Day Flower & Wine Gift!
Flower & Wine Gifts include your choice of one (1) bouquet option paired with your choice of one (1) bottle of wine OR one (1) gift card. These Mother's Day Flower & Wine Gifts are available for pickup and local delivery (shipping not available) Wednesday, May 6th - Sunday, May 10th. All Mother's Day gift orders including flowers must be placed by Wednesday, May 6, 2020 to ensure availability.
The Gift that Keeps in Giving: Wine Club Membership
Looking to show Mom just how much you love her today and everyday? Give the gift that keeps on giving, a membership to our Wine Club! We offer 3 club levels with something for everyone! Our Wine Clubs include quarterly wine shipments/pickups, access to a number of great member benefits such as discounts on wine, one (1) complimentary wine tasting for you and a guest at the Tasting House per month, early access to all Suhru Wines events, access to pre-releases, library wines, Wine Club exclusives, and more! Join today and become a part of the Suhru Family!
A Little Something Sweet: Wine & Chocolate
The only thing we love more than wine is chocolate, and what could be better than the two together? Our Merlot Dark Chocolate Bars, hand crafted by local chocolatier North Fork Chocolate Company in Aquebogue, are a delicious treat to enjoy on its own or with a bottle of red! For a match made in heaven, pair the chocoate bars with a bottle of our 2017 T'Jara Merlot and watch the flavors sing, a taste of red wine and dark chocolate in every bite!
Indulge at Home: Relaxation Care Package
While going to the spa is not an option at the moment, you can bring all of the pampering of spa life home! Enter our Relaxation Care Package—everything Mom needs to relax and unwind at home! Care Packages come in both Red and White and include a bottle of wine, a Suhru stemless wine glass, North Fork Chocolate Company Merlot-Infused Dark Chocolate bar, and two (2) Ney Tiv Spa Organic Bath Bombs.
Where to Pickup Brunch on the North Fork
Mother's Day and Brunch are synonomus in our brains, but if you can't go out for brunch, why not bring the brunch to you! With so many amazing restaurants offering takeout at the moment; how do you choose? We've compiled a few of our favorite brunch spots that are currently offering takeout:
Much as their name would suggest, this cute little spot is all about the biscuits and their honey butter is to die for! Do yourself a favor, pickup one of their Biscuit Samplers for a real treat! Checkout their Takeout Menu
Love Lane Kitchen
A classic North Fork institution, Love Lane Kitchen offers a great takeout selection including too many favorites to list here but, do yourself a favor and add a Bloodly Mary to your order, you won't regret it! Checkout their Takeout Menu
North Fork Roasting Company
One of our favorite casual coffee shops—North Fork Roasting Company is offering coffee, baked goods and breakfast items to go from both their Southold and brand new Westhampton Beach location! Don't forget to pickup a bag of freshly roasted coffee beans with your order! Checkout their Takeout Menu
North Fork Dougnut Company
Place an order in advance or try your luck day of to pickup a few of NoFoDoCos delicious doughnuts! With their ever changing menu, you are sure to find something that everyone will love! Plus, they are currently doing a collaboration with Sail Away Coffee for coffee and doughnut delivery. Checkout their Takeout Menu
How to Celebrate while Social Distancing
Take a walk, hike, or bike ride outside
One of the best things about living on the East End is how many amazing places there are to explore! With all of the time we are currently spending at home, this is a great opportunity to get out of the house and stretch your legs for a bit. (Pro Tip: go early in the morning or at dusk to avoid the crowds)
A few great North Fork hikes to explore are the Hallock State Park Preserve, Laurel Lake Preserve, Downs Farm Preserve, Inlet Pond County Park, and one of the most popular destination hiking spots, Mashomack Preserve on Shelter Island.
Go on a family picnic
Looking to make this Mother's Day a little extra memorable? With the beautiful Spring weather here to stay why not pack up a few of your favorite brunch foods or pickup takeout , grab a bottle of wine, and take Mom on a family picnic! Head over to the beach, the backyard, or your favorite quiet spot for a memorable Mother's Day picnic!
Don't forget the adult beverages! A picnic is nothing without a beverage, so pickup a bottle or one of our new canned wine 4-packs for easy packing and cleanup.
Plant Mom a Garden
With the temperatures rising and the beautiful weather here to stay, one of our annual Mother's Day traditions is planting the garden! This is a great way to enjoy the sunshine and get something productive done that you will all be able to enjoy in the months ahead! Pickup a few herbs and vegetable plants from a local nursery and get your hands dirty! Whether you're planting an outdoor garden in the backyard or potting a few herbs into a windowsill herb garden, this is a gift Mom is sure to appreciate!
Spend the day on the water
With the temperatures rising and the summer just around the corner why not spend your day on or by the water?
Lucky enough to have a boat? Spend the day sailing, paddling or cruising about the sound!
Looking to stay a little closer to home and entertain the kiddos? Grab a shovel, a blanket, and some snacks and head down to the beach to soak up a little Vitamin D and relax the day away!
No matter how you celebrate, we're wishing a very happy Mother's Day to all of the wonderful women, mothers, and mother figures out there—cheers to you!
On Sundays in April and May we are hosting interactive Instagram experiences from the @SuhruWines Instagram account. Tune in each Sunday at 3pm to see what we have happening! Below is a transcript of the Live Instagram Q&A we hosted Sunday, April 26th with Russell Hearn, winemaker at Suhru Wines! Checkout what he had to say in response to your wine questions!
Russell Hearn, Winemaker
Russell has made extensive contributions to the New York wine industry over the past three decades with his wines garnering extensive critical acclaim and industry wide respect. His innovative winemaking style has influenced the quality of many wineries in our region, none more so than Pellegrini Vineyards and more recently Lieb Cellars and Bridge Lane.
Australian born, he grew up around wine as his mother was in the business. Russell started his career in Western Australia and has taken his training with him throughout his journey with experience gained working in New Zealand, France, and regions across the USA. Russell founded Premium Wine Group a custom crush facility in 2000, encouraging small, fine quality wine producers like Suhru Wines to flourish.
As the winemaker of Suhru Wines, Russell brings his knowledge, experience, and relationships with quality New York State growers. He greatly enjoys the time spent working with Susan & their daughters developing Suhru Wines.
Q: How long have you been a winemaker on Long Island?
A: My first vintage on the North Fork was 1990, after starting in the wine industry in Western Australia (where I grew up) in 1979.
Q: What makes the North Fork of Long Island such a good wine region?
A: The maritime influence of our region moderates our climate year round, ensuring our winters aren't too cold, our summers aren't too hot AND the well drained soils on the North Fork provide good drainage, shedding the summer rainfall.
Q: What makes a Long Island Cabernet Franc special?
A: This varietal only grows well in a few regions of the world—it requires a cool but long growing season and very good vineyard management. Long Island Cabernet Franc is known for bright, aromatic fruit with delicate tannins.
Q: What is your favorite food & wine pairing?
A: I have to go with a classic Australian pairing here: Lamb & Shiraz!
Q: Which wines that you make are your favorite, and why?
A: All of them (otherwise I wouldn't make them). At Suhru we choose to only make the wines we love! That being said, Pinot Grigio and Shiraz are two of my favorites, you don't see either variety very often in New York wine.
Q: What led you to become a winemaker?
A: My mother worked in marketing for a winery in Western Australia, so I grew up around the industry. It appealed to me from the start as a great blend of science and art!
Q: How does making wine in Australia compare to doing it on the North Fork?
A: It's almost the opposite approach with red wines but similar with whites. White wines express the fruit and acidity in both cool (Long Island) and warm (Australia) climates, where as the goal for red wines on Long Island (in a cool climate) is to minimize astringency where in warmer climates like Australia, you want to emphasize it. The higher the astringency, the higher the tannins.
Q: How did you wind up making wine on the North Fork?
A: My wife was from Boston, so we wanted to explore working on the East Coast of the US. We spent 2 years in Virginia (where I worked for Dominion Wine Cellars) but it didn't feel right. Long Island has been a great move to be part of helping establish a new wine region.
Q: What's the difference between Suhru's Brut and Proseco?
A: Our Brut is made using the traditional approach—méthode champenoise—where we referment the wine in the bottle, keeping it on the yeast sediment (sur lees) for 18-30 months. Proseco uses the Charmat method—refermentation occurs in the tank then you bottle straight from tank which captures the carbonation but not the nuances of flavor, which come from spending time on the lees.
Q: What is your favorite thing about working with your family?
A: The constant aggravation! No seriously, the constant enjoyment of our family interaction and our joint love of the wine industry!
Q: How do you know when grapes are ready to be picked and made into wine?
A: During harvest I am walking through the vineyards daily—looking at the health of the canopy, testing the fruit, and keeping an eye on the upcoming weather. Leading up to harvesting the fruit we test for: Brix (sugar content) acidity, and pH. When the fruit flavors develop into what I am looking for in the wine, it is time to pick.
Q: What is the best part of the winemaking process?
A: Tasting of course! No, I really enjoy the seasonality of the process. Growing, harvesting, finishing, bottling. Each season of the year is different. You feel very connected to the cycles of the seasons and what needs to be done in each.
Q: What is the most important step in the winemaking process?
A: As a professional winemaker, my goal is to produce technically correct wines, showing off fruit/vineyard expression. Technical flaws are unacceptable. As both my family and my staff can attest, I always say winemaking is 70% sanitation, 20% perspiration, 9% inspiration, and 1% degustation (drinking) but only at the end of the day!
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On Sunday in April and May we are hosting interactive Instagram experiences from the @SuhruWines Instagram account. Tune in each Sunday at 3pm to see what we have happening! Below is a transcript of the Live Instagram Q&A we hosted Sunday, April 19th with Shelby Hearn, Director of Sales & Marketing at Suhru Wines! Checkout what she had to say in response to your burning questions!
Shelby Hearn, Director of Sales & Marketing
Growing up a winemaker's daughter, Shelby took an interest in the wine industry at a young age. Shelby got her start in the industry in 2005 and has since worked in tasting rooms, planted vineyards, hand-harvested grapes, bottled, worked in the cellar, and has sampled her fair share along the way! Shelby has continued her personal wine education by touring the wine regions of Australia and Hungary, as well as many in the US. Before moving to the North Fork and joining Suhru Wines full-time Shelby, lived in Brooklyn where she was a marketing professional at Penguin Random House and later running marketing efforts at Brooklyn Winery.
Q: Is there any downside to drinking wine from a can?
A: In my opinion no, the taste is the same and the wine stays super fresh, particularly for white wines.
Q: How did you come up with the name Suhru?
A: Suhru is a combination of my parents names “SUsan” and “RUssell” as well as our last name “Hearn”
Q: Do you allow dogs in the tasting room?
A: We do! Well behaved dogs on a leash are always welcome and dogs love our backyard in the warmer months!
A: Bordeaux blends are red blends made from a combination of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec & rarely Carmenere. Our Ember is a Bordeaux blend!
Q: Favorite comfort food or dessert with wine?
A: I have a bit of a sweet tooth so red wine & dark chocolate is always my go to pairing! Our Merlot-infused Dark chocolate is a personal favorite!
Q: Can you distribute to Michigan?
A: Not yet, but we’re hoping soon! Currently we ship to NY, MA & FL but coming in the next week or so we will be adding many more states so stay tuned!
A: Dry Riesling—Rieslings are often thought of as being sweet however a DRY Riesling like ours is one of the most fun wines to pair with foods! Pair it with something with a little spice to really make the flavors shine! Pairing Suggestions: Thai & Indian cuisine, curries, sushi & dry rub BBQ are some of my favorites!
Q: How do you decide between the Ember and the Shiraz or the T’Jara Merlot for a big beef roast?
A: Good question! They are all great choices, but my general rule of thumb with our reds is the bigger the flavors in the meal, the bigger the red you want! For a beef roast, I would go with Ember, it’s big, it’s bold, it has a more robust flavor and nice tannins so it will pair nicely with heavier, richer meat flavors.
A: My favorite wine always changes by season, but I always LOVE our Shiraz! It’s a little fruity, a little spicy, and a whole lot delicious! I also love our Brut! You really can’t go wrong with bubbly and this one is crisp, light, dry, and oh so refreshing!
Q: If you were on a desert island and could only pack one kind of Suhru wine, what would it be?
A: I’d bring our new cans! They’re super convenient, lightweight, and 1 can hold the equivalent of 2 glasses (or half a bottle of wine) so it would make packing super easy!
Q: Where do you grow your grapes?
A: We source our fruit, which means we work with a number of excellent growers on the North Fork (and one in the Finger Lakes where we grow our Riesling). By sourcing our fruit we are not limited to the grapes grown in a single vineyard but instead have the freedom to pick and choose the varietals we love and work with the vineyards that grow those best!
A: Sauvignon Blanc & Scallops are a personal favorite!
Q: How long can you drink wine for once it’s open?
A: To drink it at its peak I would recommend 2-3 days for a full opened bottle. However my pro tip is, if you know you’re not going to finish the bottle, pour the wine into a smaller bottle or jar and make sure there is no air space. You can keep the wine this way for weeks!
Q: What other North Fork wines do you recommend?
A: I’ve got so many great LI wines in my personal collection, but a few of my favorites are: Leo Family Cellars, Lieb Cellars, Paumanok Vineyards, Saltbird Cellars, Bridge Lane Wine, Sparkling Pointe, One Woman Winery & Macari Wines just to name a few.
Q: What’s your favorite board/card game to play while drinking some wine?
A: Wine Wars—it's such a fun wine trivia game and a great way to learn some new wine facts to impress your friends and family!
Q: What are your favorite spots on the North Fork?
A: I love walking out at Orient Point--it’s a nice, quiet walk by the water and in the winter months you can often spot a seal or two!
Q: How do you recommend building a wine collection?
A: Start with what you like and build from there! Whenever I find a wine I really like I buy at least two bottles, one to drink now and one to save. The first bottle goes into the “drink now” rack and the second into my collection. Before you know it and after a few trips to wine country you’ll need another wine rack!
Q: Who in the LI wine industry have you been influenced by?
A: My dad--our winemaker Russell Hearn--has been a huge influence for me, He introduced me to wine, this industry, and the incredible process of winemaking! I have always been fascinated with wine, ever since I was a kid, My love of wine and this industry is all thanks to him! I am also very lucky to have made so many wonderful friends in this industry like the incredible Alie Shaper and Robin Epperson McCarthy of Chronicle wines!
Q: How do I tell which wines I should age and which ones I should drink right away?
A: That’s a harder one to answer without knowing the specifics, it’s always a good idea to check with the winery to see what they recommend. But as a general rule, rosés and stainless steel white wines should be enjoyed within a year whereas barrel aged white and red wines can be aged for 10+ years from their vintage date (in most cases).
Q: What is your favorite snack when you drink wine?
A: Freshly shucked local oysters!
Q: What is it like working for a family business?
A: It's challenging, like any job, but it’s also the most fun I’ve ever had at work! We work hard, we play hard, and I know no matter what my family always has my back! It’s also very rewarding! I love going to work with my mom and the rest of my family everyday, it has given me so many new and exciting opportunities to learn and grow!
Q: What is your favorite season on the North Fork?
A: Late summer/early fall when the days are warm but the nights are cool and you can cozy up by the fire with a glass of red!
Join us next week, Sunday, April 26th at 3pm for a Q&A with our winemaker Russell Hearn, hosted in our Instagram Stories!
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Welcome to the Blog! We are SO excited to launch this blog and be able to bring you regular posts throughout the month!
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