Kareem, Salim and Nabeel Massoud at Paumanok Vineyards this afternoon. Photo: Peter Blasl.

The North Fork came away from the 2021 New York Wine Classic with the top two prizes.

Pindar Vineyards of Peconic won the Governor’s Cup for its 2019 Dr. Dan’s Signature Collection, Gewurztraminer. It also received the only platinum medal of the competition for Best White Wine. Pindar also received a gold medal for its Dr. Dan’s Signature Collection, White Blend.

Paumanok Vineyards of Aquebogue was named Winery of the Year, the third time it has earned that distinction.

Paumanok Vineyards also took home gold medals in Best Vinifera Red Blend for its 2015 Assemblage, in Best Traditional Method Sparkling Wine for its 2016 Blanc de Blancs and in Best Sauvignon Blanc for its 2019 Sauvignon Blanc.

Pindar and Paumanok are among the oldest vineyards on the North Fork, both dating back to the early 1980s. Both are owned and operated by their founding families.

Paumanok, a 127-acre estate vineyard and winery on Main Road in Aquebogue was founded by Charles and Ursula Massoud. Today, their three sons, Salim, Kareem and Nabeel, run the operation.

Nabeel Massoud manages the vineyard, Kareem Massoud is the winemaker and Salim Massoud is the administrative manager — “the unsung hero who makes everything happen behind the scenes,” Kareem Massoud said.

“My father always said winemaking is less of an art and more of a partnership with Mother Nature — and she’s the senior partner,” Kareem Massoud said. “So we’re really blessed. When we get a good vintage, the whole team becomes custodians of the gift from Mother Nature,” he said.

“We’re extremely proud of our sons,” Ursula Massoud said yesterday during the New York Wine and Grape Foundation’s virtual awards ceremony, which she joined with her husband from their winter home in Naples, Florida. “I want to thank them and their families for supporting them and working together,” she said.

“This is really an expression of what is happening in New York,” Charles Massoud said. “Our wines are more Old World,” he said. “Congratulations to all the winners.”

Paumanok was named Winery of the Year in the competition in 2004 and 2015.

The 500-acre Pindar Vineyards, founded by the late Dr. Herodotus “Dan” Damianos, is owned and operated by his his family, Pindar Damianos, Alexander Damianos and Alethea Damianos-Conroy. Winemaker Erick Bilka and vineyard manager Bill Ackerman accepted the award with members of the Damianos family. The vineyard has 17 varietals planted and makes 22 different wines Bilka said.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul presented the top awards during the virtual ceremony.

Judging for this year’s competition was conducted over a four-month period, from Nov. 1 through Feb. 15. There were 607 entries from 96 wineries across the state.

Other Long Island vineyards that earned gold medals were:
McCall Wines, for its 2014 reserve Corchaug Estate Pinot Noir, its 2016 Reserve North Ridge Vineyard Chardonnay, its 2015 North Ridge Vineyard Cabernet Franc and its 2013 Ben’s Blend Corchaug Estate;

Coffee Pot Cellars, for its 2015 Heritage Red Blend;

Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard, for its 2019 Savannah Rosé;

Harbes Vineyard for its 2016 Proprietor’s Reserve Cabernet Franc, its 2014 Proprietor’s Reserve Red Blend, and its Blanc De Blancs Brut Methode Champenoise;

Lieb Cellars for its 2019 Estate Chardonnay and its 2018 Estate Sparkling Pinot Blanc;

Osprey’s Dominion for its 2015 Cabernet Franc, its 2014 Cabernet Franc and its 2013 Reserve Merlot;

Palmer Vineyard for its 2015 Old Roots Merlot.

Sparklin Pointe for its 2015 Séduction Blanc De Blancsm Chardonnay, its 2018 Topaz Impérial and its 2017 Noir De Noirs, Pinot Noir;

Suhru Wines for its 2019 Pinot Grigio;

The Lenz Winery for its 2013 Old Vines, Cabernet Sauvignon, its 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, its 2017 Estate Selection Malbec and its NV Firefly Rosé Pet Nat.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.