In 1992, Roman Roth became the first winemaker at Wölffer Estate Vineyard. He established the estate’s distinctive character—European elegance combined with the typicity of Long Island terroir. And he has dedicated himself to promoting not only the wines of Wölffer Estate, but of Long Island, where he has consulted with numerous vineyards.
Roman’s contribution to quality winemaking on Long Island was recognized at the 2003 East End Food & Wine Awards (judged by the American Sommelier Society), where he was named Winemaker of the Year. Three of his proudest moments came in 2015: The 2012 Perle Chardonnay was served at the White House for President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany in February. His 2012 Diosa and 2012 Descencia dessert wines each earned 94 points in Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate,becoming the highest-rated wines in Long Island history. And Wine Spectator selected Grapes of Roth Merlot 2010 for Top 100 Wines of 2015.
What drew you to winemaking?
I was drawn to becoming a winemaker for a number of reasons.
My father was a cooper and winemaker and it was always clear to me that it was a very special trade and position. I liked how good wine was celebrated and valued in my family and by customers and trade that came through my parents business and home. I also liked the creative side of winemaking and working with my hands. The seasonality of winemaking is also very fitting for my nature and drive. Harvest is intense, winter is quiet, spring is busy with bottling and summer is full of events and parties! I am very good at multitasking and can be very tenacious – both very important to be a good winemaker.
What are the unique characteristics of your winemaking style?
I have 3 goals when making wine: make food friendly wines, make wines with longevity, make wines that are true to our vineyards/region
I love wines with balanced acidity, character and substance. May it be in a light summer Rose, an elegant and focused Chardonnay or a structured rich red, I try to feature in each wine vibrancy and ripe intense fruit with moderate alcohol. This combination is what make a great wine for me.
Not coincidently – this style is what our Long Island Terroir is all about. The key is to work hand in hand with mother nature and to try to bring out the best in any given year. Constancy is the key to success!
Describe the relationship between the Long Island wine community and the agriculture, aquaculture and overall East End culinary culture.
We at Wolffer Estate are participating in 6 different farmers markets on the East End since the inceptions of these markets because we feel very much a part of the eat and drink local. To have great and strong relationships within our community is very vital.
In your opinion, which foods are paired best with the wines of Long Island?
The versatility and food friendliness of Long Island wines is amazing.
My personal favorites are: Oysters with local Sparkling Wine, Seafood bisque with Dry Roses, Crab cake with Stainless Steel Chardonnay or White Blends, Striped bass with barrel fermented (but not over oaked) Chardonnay, Wild mushroom risotto with our Pinot Noirs, Long Island Duck with Merlot, Bison with Cabernet Franc, Lamb with Cabernet Sauvignon or Red Blends, Strawberry shortcake with our Dessert wines.
What Long Island wine would you recommend to someone just discovering the region?
I would say: focus on two or three varieties. Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Visit as many wineries and taste as many wines as you can (spitting the wine of course). Once you mastered these and get a good picture of the region and of the wineries you like go and venture onto other varieties.
What are your passions outside of wine?
My family, Soccer, Singing, The Metropolitan Opera, Skiing, Paddle Tennis and Golf
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