About Jamesport Vineyards
Winery Established: 1981
Vineyard: 60 acres all tended to with Sustainable Farming Practices
Grape varieties: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Semillon, Syrah.
Wines: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Pinot Blanc (White Port "Anna") Semi Glace (Ice Wine), Late Harvest Riesling, Verjus (Grape Juice), Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Melange de Trois (Bordeaux Blend)
Annual Production: 7,000 cases
Jamesport Vineyards is a father-son collaboration that began in 1981 at Early Rising Farm in Cutchogue, New York, making Jamesport Vineyards one of the North Fork's oldest vineyards. Sixty acres of pristine vineyards are located here, with the majority of plantings include Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. The high quality of our fruit is what gained Jamesport Vineyards a stellar reputation. We use only OUR own high-quality fruit for producing our award winning wines. Jamesport Vineyards is truly an estate winery.
In 1986 Ron Goerler Sr. acquired the 150-year-old barn that houses the winery and tasting room Drawing on our exceptional Cutchogue Vineyards fruit supply as well as the talents of his son, Ron Jr., he started Jamesport Vineyards in 1989. Since then, a lot has changed, both aesthetically and agriculturally. Our tasting room has increased in size and our tasting bar has been enlarged to accommodate a growing number of visitors. Additionally, a large event lawn is available for Musical events, private parties and weddings. Weekends at Jamesport often feature live music, and the ever-popular oyster bar serving the best that local waters have to offer.
Jamesport Vineyards is continuing its quest to produce World-Class wines. The Goerlers are already seeing their commitment to upgrade pay off both in sales and visibility. The number of visitors to Jamesport Vineyards continues to grow yearly, as does their collection of awards and medals. Please stop by to sample our many fine wines. The winery tasting room is open seven days a week from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M.
In our vineyards, we continue to update our plantings. Recently, two-thousand Sauvignon Blanc vines, have been planted to European spacing, which is far denser than the usual Long Island practice. This new planting is expected to produce the highest quality of fruit available in the region today. Jamesport is continually reviving and updating it's vineyards with new clones of Cabernet Franc, Dijon Chardonnay and Syrah selected from California vineyards.
Meet the Goerler Family - Three Generations
Jamesport Vineyards has long been a father/son collaboration. But now there are three generations of the Groler family involved in the vineyard. Thirteen-year-old Alex recently joined his dad, Ron Jr. and his grandfather, Ron Sr., in vineyard operations.
All three are quick to note that it's not predestined, but all three want to be involved in the work they find challenging and satisfying.
Growing up on the family's Early rising Farm in Cutchogue, Ron Jr. admits he never thought he was going to follow in his grandfather's footsteps at the vineyard. But he did try his hand at the family's plumbing supply business, only to discover, "I have to be outside."
Today, he not only shares in the ownership of Jamesport Vineyards, but is a working manager who is involved in every aspect of the operation, from planting and harvesting grapes through to winemaking decisions and bottling and selling the wine. Ron Sr. still keeps a hand in the business end of the winery and Alex is taking over the responsibility for spraying the vines this year, a chore that was his father's for many years.
For Alex, while he's seriously considering continuing the family wine business, he has other interests, including computers, cooking and, at this point in his life, video games and hanging out with his girlfriend.
Jamesport, one of the first Long Island wineries, was founded in 1981 when Ron Sr. after years of making his own wines for the family back in Oyster Bay, bought a Cutchogue farm he and his wife admired while driving by.
"We were not farmers," recalls Ron Jr. When they planted their first vines, "none of the farmers gave us a chance," he says. The intent wasn't originally to get into the win business. But Ron Sr. planted a few acres of grapes, and after his first successful crop, he decided to give it a try. The North Form Winery in Jamesport was in financial trouble and he stepped in as a "white knight" and bought it. His plumbing business provided the capital to build the winery business. Ironically, when the plumbing business went through a difficult time a few years ago, it was the winery that carried the day.
Looking ahead, Ron Jr. wonders about the viability of the business to support his family and, someday, his son's family if Alex stays with the business. He speculates that if Alex gets a degree in viticulture, he might end up with another job in the industry.
"I wrestle with that in my mind," says Ron Jr. about the economics of the business, Land is much more expensive than it was when Goerlers started and so, too, is everything from diesel fuel to wine bottles.
"It's labor intensive" and subject to weather so that year to year, it's hard to predict the quality of the crop. He quotes Alex Hargrave, the first East End wine pioneer, with saying if u want to know what kind of year it is for wines, he'll tell you when it's in the tank. Throughout 2005, it looked like a banner year for vineyards, then can almost a week long rain that dropped some 20 inches of water in the fields in October. It still turned out to be a great year, says Ron Jr. There were certainly losses of grapes, he says, but it could have been much worse.
If it's so difficult, with so many uncontrollable factors that impacts the business, why do they do it?
"You have to love it," says Ron Jr. "You have to have a passion for it." It's been "25 years for us - the blood, the sweat and the tears," he says.
What attracted Ron Sr. at the outset was the challenge. "When you get down to it, wine is manufactured, but it requires a little more finesse" than other products.
"It's not all work; it's got to be fun too," adds Ron Jr.
Ron Sr. still keeps the last of his horses on the land, a throwback to his days as a harness driver at Roosevelt Raceway and other tracks. And in his backyard is a motor home he and his wife drive up and down the East Coast, spending time at such places as Hilton Head, N.C. He also has been a long-time pilot and was trained as a lawyer. Offered a job with the FBI after law school, Ron Sr. decided it wasn’t for him. Instead he joined his father in the plumbing supply business, where his other children now work. The Goerlers kid each other about the intricacies of working with the family.
"There've been some issues," says Ron Sr. with a twinkle in his eyes. Today, the children have all matured and "they like what they're doing" he says.
But Ron Jr. Jokes about being fired many times by his dad. And in the early days of the winery, whenever something would go wrong, Ron Jr. would be quick to remind his dad, "This was your dream."
Today, the Goerlers have 60 acres of land, about 40 of which are in vines, and they produce 7,000 cases of wine per year, some of it being served at many of Manhattan's top restaurants. They're particularly proud of their Cabernet Franc, which was judged the best in New York State two of the last three years. They're producing Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and lately, Reisling. Ron Jr. would like to move the business to being 100 percent retail from today's 60-65 percent.
"It’s the most bang for the buck," he says.
The Goerlers' whole approach to the business is to sustain the land. They want to leave as light a footprint as possible, says Ron Jr. The family paid for the acreage, but they recognize their responsibility as stewards of the land. They take a similar attitude about the wines they produce, trying to interfere with nature as little as possible, says Ron Jr. They do a minimum amount of spraying and don't use herbicides.
"These guys have to take the winery to the next level," says Ron Sr., about his son and grandson.
If Ron Jr. has his way, the next level would include a place where chefs would train and cater and where wine and food would go hand in hand, as they were meant to.
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