I bet most of you have visited on of the dozens of vineyards across the North or South Fork. Setting out your picnic blanket at dusk, sipping your favorite wine paired with a cheese plate and a baguette, watching the sunset, listening to live music, and taking in the scenery. Now, have you ever dreamed of having a vineyard to call your own in your backyard? A private vineyard would burst with serenity and be the centerpiece of your home. Imagine basking among your own luscious vines and sharing your love of viticulture with friends and family.
I had the pleasure of meeting Stephen Scarnato, the Founder of Long Island Vine Care at one of his properties in East Hampton a couple of weeks ago where I learned all about the growth and care of a boutique vineyard. We could not have asked for a beautiful spring day. The air was calm and the sky was a bright, cheerful blue. It was the gateway day to a magnificent spring season.
“I grew up growing plants with my parents and thought that growing grapes and making wine would be a perfect marriage of art and science which it definitely is. Especially now that I grow grapes in people’s backyards – it needs to be the perfect harmony of function and form. Each vineyard, like a focal point in a well designed room, needs to have it’s own character and fit the space, more than that, add to the space,” explains Scarnato.
Scarnato began an internship at Martha Clara Vineyards in Mattituck. “The staff there is exceptionally talented, especially the Vineyard Manager, Jim Thompson, who is a great friend and encouraging mentor. It was at Martha Clara that the idea took form – I was obsessed with the grapevine, it’s form, nuances, idiosyncrasies, strengths and weaknesses – and I wanted to share this with everyone I knew. And the best place to do this was right at there in home,” adds Scarnato. “Four years later, after selling vineyard equipment, fertilizers, working at Wolffer, and eventually managing my own half acre vineyard, I started the business and quickly acquired a half dozen clients that shared my passion.”
The possibilities are endless when it comes to your very own, at-home vineyard. “Your yard is my canvas, my brushes are posts and plants. The vineyard design already exists. Your family has been creating it all along. Do you like to entertain? Then I will design a vineyard that has space in the center for a pergola, and table to share meals. Do you like to spend the evening in front of a fire talking? Then I will be sure to incorporate a beautiful stonework fire pit into the design. Is your perfect day spent in a good book? Then let’s string up a hammock between the posts! Will a more modern design complement your estate? Then extra attention will be given to the graceful form of each vine.”
You can have the luxury of bottling your wine and creating your own labels. “At the end of each season we throw a roarin’ party to celebrate the harvest. Gather friends and family for some good food and drink, get the kids in the vineyard to get there hands sticky on the amazingly sweet, ripe grapes. Then we crush the grapes, let the kids have fun turning the crank on the machine that takes out the stems, and last, put the wine to age into containers. Then it’s transported offsite to be carefully tended and tested by me!” says Scarnato. What a magnificent idea for an end-of-season soiree!
Scarnato has properties in Calverton, Jamesport, Mattituck, Cutchogue, Greenport, East Hampton, and two in Nassau county. He also consults for many commercial vineyards and a handful of private places in Westhampton Beach and Centerport.