Roanoke Vineyards began as an opportunity. The last block of the historic Young Family Farm was for sale, and the geographic particulars of this site suggested complete ripening of Cabernet Sauvignon was possible. The Roanoke Bluff shelters the property from the strong northerlies that can roar across the Long Island Sound, and all ten acres are exposed to the warm summer sea breeze from the southwest. There's plenty of sun, and a sandy vein of earth cuts trough the Cab Sauvignon block. After twenty years growing Merlot and Chardonnay it was an opportunity for owner Rich Pisacano to focus on Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
Roanoke makes two Cabernet Francs. The Gabby's Cabernet Franc comes from just twelve rows of intensely manicured vines. This wine is vat fermented, with the cap of skins pushed through the juice by hand three times a day during the initial fermentation. The wine is then moved to new French oak (Cadus), where it develops for anywhere from 20 to 24 months. Gabby's is released each year on the birthday (September 25th) of family patriarch and vineyard manager Gabby Pisacano.
The Roanoke Vineyards Cabernet Franc shows the unique flavors and nuance of our vineyard. Our current release, the 2008, is plump with rich, almost caramelized tannins. Big currant and berry waves arrive in smooth, glassy breaks. Simply elegant.
Making a big, powerful Cabernet Sauvignon is not hard when you have perfect fruit. The classic "wet stone" of the First Growth Bordeaux is evident. A surprisingly solid structure provides the backbone for especially rich flavors. To date, each Cab Sauvignon vintage has been fully ripened on the vine, then aged to perfection in Keystone oak.
The leading edge of the North Fork Style is clearly our Merlot. The Right Bank of Bordeaux grows beautiful Merlot, but so does Long Island. The sea breeze of a maritime climate, a sandy and sometimes rocky soil, and warm but not hot summers that reach into October prove perfect for Merlot. With just one acre, our Merlot is extremely limited in quantity, but loaded with quality.
Roanoke's blends provide a creative platform for winemaker Roman Roth to illustrate his talents. Roman creates three blends for us in his Sagaponack cellar. Prime Number is a Cabernet Sauvignon based wine, usually blended with Cab Franc. BOND features Cabernet Franc in the staring role, and here Merlot and Cab Sauvignon elegantly chime in. Our Marco Tulio is winemaker Roth's wild card. The 2010 is Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot, and Cab Franc, with a solid structure, and exquisite harmony.
After many lovely vintages of beautiful Chardonnay, we were looking for a new window into this particular vineyard. Our style of blending tank and barrel fermented Chardonnay has been gaining in popularity around the country, but we felt . . . adventurous. The wine we wanted to make would be a counterpoint to our elegant 2010 Sonnet; it had to be crisp, not subtle, it had to be ready to jump out of the glass! So in the fall of 2011 we harvested, crushed the 23.5 Brix Chard, put the juice in the tank, and walked away. We let the wine ferment on its own natural yeasts. A wild ferment! Each day during the fermentation the wine changed its shape, making us think this process wasn't for the faint of heart. In the end, we had exactly what we wanted; a beautiful wine that transcends definition, eschews tradition, and makes us extremely happy. It's The Wild!
Last, but certainly not least, the Roanoke Vineyards DeRosa Rosé remains one of our most popular wines. Although the exact blends have varied slightly over the past eight vintages, we aim for a Provence style rosé that spotlights quality fruit. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Chardonnay all play a part. This wine is released every year on Mother's Day as a tribute to Gabby's mother.