Home, Home on the Vineyard: Shinn Estates
New York’s Long Island is loaded with wineries, but not many of those wineries can say that they’ve got a distillery and a bed & breakfast (with a professional chef) on the premises. Shinn Estates, in the North Fork town of Mattituck, is an exception.
Fields of gold. Shinn Estate, with its Farmhouse Inn, above right, is all organic, all the time.
Founded in 2000 by the husband-and-wife team of Barbara Shinn and David Page, the winery operates on the philosophy that nature knows best (their website aptly calls it “Vineyard as Ecosystem”), and that idea is reflected in everything at Shinn, from how the vineyard is cultivated to the types of eggs Page whips up for guests at their Farmhouse Inn. The vineyard, barren and lifeless when Shinn and Page arrived, has been cultivated to welcome enriching biodiversity in lieu of man-made pesticides: a meadow of dandelions, asters, sorrel, and goldenrods grow beneath the vines, sheltering everything from bugs, rabbits, earthworms, birds, and bees. Rather than chemical fertilizers, Shinn and Page use an organic mix of seaweed, fish, their composted remains from winemaking, mulched materials from pruning their vines, horn manure, and teas. As a result, the wine is, as the Shinn Estate website calls it, “vibrant”, “honest”, and “forthright”: currently, there are 18 available for purchase, ranging from Chardonnays to Sauv Blancs, Pinot Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet Francs, and so on (Shinn has some unique bottlings, as well), including distilled wines.
Yes, we said distilled. Producing not so much a brandy or a grappa, Shinn’s are more of the digestif variety–the kind you can swirl around with an espresso or pour in after an espresso (especially with sugar in the bottom of the cup). Born of Page’s desire to continue his family’s Prohibition-era tradition of making spirits, and ushered in by the recent repeal of anti-distillery laws in New York, Shinn Estates’ offerings of Eau de Vie (distilled Seyval Blanc and Cabernet Blanc) and the nicely named Shinn Shine (distilled from Chardonnay lees) are extracted from copper alembic stills.
You can see all of this for yourself: rather than simply taking a winery and vineyard tour, book a weekend at the Farmhouse Inn, Shinn and Page’s bed & breakfast. A sprawling, wood-sided farmhouse with decorative white touches and a wraparound porch, it’s cozily outfitted with four rooms (each with a private bathroom, not de rigeur for a B&B), each one uniquely done up with tastefully modern, elegant decor–a nice departure from the usual doily-and-florals look associated with the typical countryside bed-and-breakfast.
Having been restaurateurs in Manhattan, the couple are reliably expert in their food preparation: locally sourced, organic ingredients make up the breakfast menu, and of course, the afternoon tea is so much more than just that–there’s also wine to go with the freshly baked goods, all the better after touring the naturally maintained grounds.
Shinn Estate is located in Mattituck, NY. To visit the winery/vineyard or to book a room at the Shinn Estate Farmhouse, please visit www.shinnestatevineyards.com, or call 631-804-0367.
Photo courtesy of Shinn Estate. Keep an eye out for our July/August print issue for our “A Day In The Life” special on this unique–and beautiful–North Fork vineyard!