Throwback Thursday – Library Wines

Library Ladies at Wölffer Estate Vineyard, 2003

Tina Oberg, Karen Rade, Peg Ambrosio, Charlotte Schorr, Virginia Sayers and Marie Stokes pose in front of the Wölffer Estate tasting room, “Library Ladies” Collection, Montauk Library Archives.

In the month of October, grape harvesting and wine-making continue at the crescendo pace begun in September, as workers pick, process and bottle.  Winemaking is one of agriculture’s great gifts to the world, and there are many articles online, as well as books in local libraries, to educate inquisitive minds about harvests and vintages.

In 2003 the “Library Ladies” of the Montauk Library visited Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack for an afternoon outing.  Pictured in this photograph, from left to right, are Tina Oberg; Karen Rade, former Director of the Montauk Library; Peg Ambrosio; Charlotte Schorr; Virginia Sayers, former bookkeeper; and Marie Stokes. Peg and Virginia have since moved on, but you can still say hello to Tina and Marie at the Montauk Library’s front desk.  Charlotte, a mainstay of library circulation who retired after 32 years, was called the “Grand Dame” of the Library, and died in 2012.

Marie Stokes reminisced about the “short field trips out of town” taken by the staff of the Montauk Library.  “On the way back to Montauk, we would stop to have lunch and enjoy the company of each other in a social setting. I remember a field trip to Westhampton Library with lunch at what was once Robert’s Restaurant in Water Mill. In addition, some of us would get together periodically for an after-work pizza party followed by a game of canasta, but I think Wölffer was a particular destination for a social outing.”

Now, almost 20 years later, Long Island wines are bigger business than ever.  Tours and tastings add millions of dollars to the economy; our proximity to NYC offers good opportunities to showcase the region’s best pours.  Long Island is still a relatively young wine region, however.  Do Long Island wines seriously compete?  Yes, especially when it comes to “library wines.”

In “Library Wines Speak Volumes,” Wine Enthusiast author Robert Morris writes that library wines, which are “portions of vintages held by wineries to be rereleased years after their debut,” are so-named because “wineries refer to the section of their caves where they store their private stock — usually a few cases from each vintage — as libraries.”  More and more, wineries are archiving samples of the “great ones,” selling them to preferred buyers.

A good article offering specifics on library wines was written by Courtney Schiessl for Forbes Magazine (3.25.2019).  We learn, for example, why area merlots are a good match for the viticultural areas of Long Island.  “The 2005 Reserve Merlot from the North Fork’s Macari Vineyards, a pallet of which was discovered in the warehouse a few years ago, was remarkably lively, with incredible aromatic depth,” she says.  Attending a “NY Drinks NY ” event, Schiessl discussed age-worthiness with Long Island vintners presenting their finest vintages

“Many winemakers consider age-worthiness an essential element to prove that Long Island wine country is more than just a tourist destination, its wines worthy of standing alongside the world’s best.  Roman Roth, the winemaker and partner of Wolffer Estate in the Hamptons, dreams of seeing top Long Island wines auctioned off alongside Bordeaux and Napa Cabernet Sauvignon at Sotheby’s one day.”

Long Island Wine Librarians — we salute you!  And here’s a toast to all the library employees in Suffolk and Nassau counties working through these tough pandemic times.  If we wine lovers at the Montauk Library ever grow grapes on our brand-new balcony, we’ll name the vintage Charlotte Schorr — and title it, “The Grand Dame.”

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