The idea of Shinn Estate Vineyards and Farmhouse began in 1998 when Barbara Shinn and David Page purchased the Tuthill homestead on Oregon Road in Mattituck, New York. The couple had decided to plant 20 acres of grapevines to begin building out their business. Over the years, they remained true to their roots, focusing on a sustainable philosophy for everything they do at their North Fork winery. Keeping with that mantra, in the summer of 2009 and spring of 2010 they installed a solar and wind power operation making them the first East Coast winery and inn to be solely powered by alternative energy. Today, they continue to innovate with new community programming and continually focusing on utilizing other local vendors to accentuate their offerings. Swig contributor Kristen Oliveri sat down with the duo to chat about their new varietals, how they managed to make a wine sans sulfites and how they help support local education.
Q: What is your overall wine and agriculture philosophy?
A: We have a holistic approach, utilizing sustainable and biodynamic practices in both the vineyard and winery. Our approach draws us closer to nature focusing our attention on things small and large. From the microbiology of our soils to lunar cycles, we incorporate both ancient and modern methodology. When making decisions about how to express the beauty of growing wine, we strive to nurture our land and fruit, giving back more than we take.
Q: You have the only vineyard/inn on the North Fork where guests can stay overnight. What can guests expect from their stay?
A: Guests enjoy full access to our vineyard and winery while staying in the modern luxury of a historic farmhouse inn.
Q: Tell me about your latest varietals.
A: We have recently released the 2012 vintages of Grace and Clarity. Grace is a Cabernet Franc based blend from a great vintage. It shows elegance, power and balance. Clarity is a Cabernet Sauvignon based blend with intense concentration and focus.
Q: How did you decide to produce a no sulfite wine? What’s the process like?
A: The addition of sulfites protect wine from spoilage and pose no health risk. However, we have found that in certain instances where perfect fruit and controlled winemaking is utilized, deliciously pure wines can be crafted without the addition of sulfites. The 2013, 2014 and 2015 vintages gifted us small amounts of extremely high quality fruit. In all three vintages we have produced Diaphanous, a three barrel red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc that has no sulfites added. These wines have viticultural strength and will have very long lives in the bottle.
Q: You list the ingredients on your wine labels where virtually no other wineries do. Why is that?
A: In 2008, along with a couple of California winemakers, we decided to add an ingredient list to our label. This had never been done before by any producers from anywhere in the world. Since the advent of industrial winemaking a few decades ago where harmful chemical inputs in both the vineyard and winery have become commonplace, we felt it necessary to protect consumers against winemaking fraud. Too many winemakers use additives to “improve” their wines without informing the public. Transparency should be the rule not the exception.
Q: What is Vine-Tastic?
A: This year we started Vine-Tastic, a summer program for children and their parents to reconnect with nature in a holistic vineyard setting. Children learn about bees, insects, clouds, weeds and birds while enjoying the beauty that surrounds them. All donations are used to support Peconic Community School.
Q: What are your charitable outreach programs that you engage your community through?
A: We support local education and farm worker health through Peconic Community School, HRHCare, Sylvestor Manor and others as a way to build a strong community.
Q: When you’re not drinking wine, what’s your favorite guilty pleasure drink?
A: We have been distilling brandy for six years in a traditional alembic still tucked in the corner of our winery. Our tiny batch brandies are now available in the tasting room, but also comfort us after long days in the vineyard and winery.