“Wine Lovers Flock to Duck Walk Vineyards”
by Jessica Covello
On a Friday afternoon in the Hamptons, there is no mistaking the sound of clinking glasses and happy chatter. Wineries are popular on Long Island, but it takes more than just good wine to bring the customers in.
When Duck Walk South opened in Water Mill, N.Y. in 1987, it was called “Le Reve”, or “the dream.” The owners’ dream did not last long, because Barclays Bank took over after financial troubles afflicted the winery. The bank renamed it Southhampton Winery, which it remained until Dr. Herodotus Damianos, owner of Pindar Vineyards, bought the property in 1994.
The building is modeled after a Normandy-style chateau, with great sloping green oxidized copper roofing, and weathered Mexican bricks to give it a vintage appearance.
Since Damianos purchased the winery, there is no stopping Duck Walk. Their current property spans 26 acres, and along with four other Duck Walk properties on the North fork of Long Island, it brings them to a total of 120 acres of planted grapes.
Although there aren’t any grapes on the vines just yet, Michael Krummenacker, tasting room manager at Duck Walk, said that April is the period when the vines begin to release their sap, a sign they will soon be ready for bud break.
“It’s waking up, similar to a hibernating bear coming out in the springtime,” said Krummenacker. Pollination is in June, and the grapes will be ready for harvest by the fall.
The wine-making process begins after the harvest, where the grapes are separated by what type of wine they will become. Krummenacker said all grapes make white juice, and how long the grapes and their skins soak in the wine will determine the color.
For red wines, a barrel is used to add an oak flavor and some color. Rosé wines have the skins dipped in for a short period of time to give them a light pink color.
Perhaps one of Duck Walk’s most famous wines is their Blueberry Port, a dark, sweet dessert wine. It is very popular amongst customers, and often prompts questions from visitors.
Another is their 2010 White Meritage, a white wine that is barreled to pick up an oak flavor, along with bursts of honey, citrus and vanilla.
Pam Przepiora, tasting room manager at the vineyard, said that their conversation-starting wines are what set them apart from other wineries in the area.
“I don’t know that anybody else is actually making a White Meritage,” said Przepiora. “Anything that makes us stand alone is a good thing.”
Krummenacker says it is Duck Walk’s variety of options that put them ahead of the rest.
“A lot of other wineries will send people our way for people that have a sweet tooth and want an offering of sweet wines, and we can fit the bill,” said Krummenacker. “We’ve got everything from sweet to dry, red to white.”
It’s not just the variety that people come for. Duck Walk hosts various events throughout the year, including pairings with other local businesses for tasting events, like The Crushed Olive, a specialty oil and vinegar shop.
They do weddings, live shows, and even host parties in their tank room, which Krummenacker said guests often enjoy because they find it rustic and charming.
“Wine is popular. People come out to wineries as a day destination,” said Krummenacker. “It’s just another avenue to have fun at.”
Duck Walk will celebrate its 20 years in the Hamptons, and The Beatles 50th anniversary of their arrival in America, from May 30 to June 1, with an art show that features artwork of the ‘Fab Four’ and wine available for purchase by the glass or the bottle.