Channing Daughters Winery
One pulls up a long straight driveway past vineyards planted on a field that is as flat as a billiard table. In the distance is building that looks like more like a well maintained Long Island potato barn than a winery. The building is indeed the Channing Daughters tasting room and winery. Past the tasting room are more flat and gently rolling vineyards. Large carved wooden sculptures dot the fields and grounds giving one the impression that one has arrived at a fancy sculpture garden rather than a farm. Channing Daughters is a place of contrasts and surprises.
Founded on the ashes of the Bridgehampton Winery, Channing Daughters is one of the second generation wineries on Long Island. It was founded by Walter Channing, Molly Channing, and Larry Perrine. The Channing Daughters Winery was established in 1996 incorporating the building and some of the land formerly owned by the Bridgehampton Winery, one of the earliest winemakers on the East End of Long Island.
Walter Channing is a venture capitalist whose firm is in New York City. He is also a sculptor working primarily in wood. His sculptures adorn the ground, buildings, and vineyards at the Channing Daughters estate. The vineyards are partially from the early vine plantings on the Channing’s Bridgehampton estate some of which date to 1983. The winery was named for the Channing’s four daughters.
Larry Perrine is a wine professional and veteran of the winemaking business on the East End of Long Island. Perrine worked at the venerable Mudd Vineyards and was the former winemaker at the now defunct Gristina Vineyards in Cutchogue on the North Fork. While at Gristina, Perrine was a board member of the Vinifera Circle, and organization formed in late 1980’s with John Dyson of Millbrook in the Hudson River
Region to accelerate the development of the production of vinifera based wines in the New York State.
The current winemaker, Chris Tracy, has had careers as an actor, restaurant reviewer, theatre group owner, and chef prior to developing an interest in winemaking. His background in creative endeavors has agumented the artistic organizational culture of Channing Daughters. This has been expressed in a tendency to experiment in unusual ways with unusual winemaking practices. This propensity makes Channing Daughters one of the most interesting and creatively courageous wineries in New York State. Although they produce excellent Merlots and masterful Chardonnays, many of their bottlings are from varietals and the employment of winemaking practices unusual in New York.
Channing Daughters grows and blends some unusual varietals for the region such as Tocai Friulano, Muscat, Blaufrankisch, and Vino Bianco. They utilize field blend techniques to express the terroir more fully and succinctly than common blending practices. A field blend is a wine made from grapes that grow together in a single vineyard. This is a fairly unusual technique in New York State where vineyards are primarily devoted to a single varietal. Examples of these are their Sylvanus and Mosaico white blends. Some other wineries employ this practice but Channing Daughters extends the effect by blending atypical varietal combinations. The Mosaico label, for example, is a blend of Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Muscat, Tocai Friulano and Gewurztraminer, resulting in a wine that combines roundness and weight of Chardonnay with complex aromatics and intriguing tones from other varietals.
The use of Eastern European oak in aging of their wines is becoming something of a signature for Tracy. It is generally used in combination with French and American wood. The Eastern European, particularly Slovenian, barrels provides softer oak tones than American wood while avoiding the pronounced caramel and butterscotch flavor characteristic of French wood. The Slovenian aged wines take on a light, sweet, almost band aid pedal tone. This vinification technique provides an effective balance to the brightness of some of the Channing Daughters selection of more aromatic varietals.
Channing Daughters produces wines that take advantage of vinification techniques seldom seen elsewhere in New York. They produce a wine called Over and Over, currently in its third release, which combines the solera technique common with Sherries, and the ripasso technique seen frequently in Valpolicella. Solera is a process of fractionally aging vintages from different years and then blending them together. Ripasso employs the practice of adding the pomace, which is the remnants from pressing the grapes, to the crush for an additional maceration. The result is a rich and full bodied wine that shows some nutty flavors from oxidation with deep color and complexity from additional skin contact.
Borrowing, again, from esoteric European winemaking traditions, Channing Daughters produces a Pinto Grigio that employs skin maceration on especially ripe grapes. The Pinto Grigio varietal will develop some color in their skins if given sufficient ripening and sun exposure. If the juice is allowed to macerate on the skins it will take on some of this skin color resulting in a coppery colored wine. The wine takes on more body and tannins then common in fully white Pinot Grigios. This technique, known as Ramato, is seen primarily in the Tre Venezie region of north-eastern Italy.
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