Husband and wife duo—winemaker Anthony Nappa and chef Sarah Evans Nappa—launched Anthony Nappa Wines in 2007 by producing 200 cases of Long Island Pinot Noir. The winery and the retail location, the Winemaker Studio, are both based in the North Fork of Long Island. The tasting room not only highlights their own wines, but wines from other North Fork winemakers and producers. Nappa sat down with Swig Contributor Kristen Oliveri to discuss how he got his business started, his winemaking process and why he calls the North Fork his home.
Q: What was the impetus for launching the Winemaker’s Studio?
A: We wanted to open a retail location and when a former tasting room location became available to rent downtown Peconic, we jumped at the opportunity. At the time we did not make enough wine to support a shop so we decided to include other winemakers. Since we started, this focus has fostered growth in private label wines from local professional winemakers. We hope to promote experimentation, camaraderie and community among our friends and colleagues, while continuously encouraging each other to push the limits and raise the bar of the New York wine industry.
Q: How did you find your way into the wine business?
A: I studied botany at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and completed a degree in ‘Fruit and Vegetable Agriculture’ from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture. I later went to New Zealand to receive my formal training in winemaking from Lincoln University in Christchurch where I received degrees in both Viticulture and Oenology. Anthony has extensive experience particularly in cool climate farming and winemaking. I have experience working as a winemaker in New Zealand, Southern Italy, California, Massachusetts and New York.
Q: Tell us about Anthony Nappa Wines?
A: We make honest and pure wines, un-manipulated and without adulteration, and try to have a transparent discussion of our wine with the consumer. We make all of our wines in different ways, both traditional and nontraditional. Our wines have naturally balanced chemistry allowing me to make wines without requiring any additives or adulteration when we pick our fruit. With moderate alcohol I am able to wild ferment all of our wines, and with modern techniques I am able to produce clean wines without filtration or fining.
Q: Who are some of the winemakers and vineyards that you are currently featuring in your tasting room?
A: We have a few, including:
- Race Wines from Winemaker Greg Gove of Peconic Bay Winery
- SUHRU Wines & T’Jara Wines from winemaker Russell Hearn of Lieb Cellars
- Leo Family from winemaker John Leo of Clovis Point
- Influence Wines from winemaker Erik Bilka of Castello di Borghese
- Coffee Pot Cellars from winemaker Adam Suprenant of Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards
Q: To you, what makes a good wine?
A: It’s about having balanced chemistry and flavor to make a delicious wine. I prefer wines that are structured and full bodied with a full middle and a long finish. We have plenty of fruit and acid in our wines here on long Island, but what makes my wines unique is they are tannin driven, often times with little or no oak. I use different fermentation techniques for all of our different wine styles to accentuate them but the common thread is a focus on structure and balance.
Q: Where do you see the future of the North Fork Wine community going?
A: The wines have never been better than they are now. I believe there is potential for growth in new vineyard plantings and more focused wine. The North Fork is currently receiving much recognition and I believe the reach of our wines can continue to extend well beyond New York.