Paumanok Vineyard Is NY Winery of the Year

Kareem Massoud in Paumanok's winery.

Kareem Massoud in Paumanok’s winery.

It’s a good thing Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue has increased production of some of its most popular wines, because demand is about to shoot through the roof. Paumanok, one of the North Fork’s oldest vineyards, was declared New York Winery of the Year for 2015 at the New York Wine & Food Classic held August 10 – 12 at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel in the Finger Lakes.

Winery of the Year is the winery that receives the highest average scores (a minimum of seven wines must be submitted; Paumanok submitted nine) from a panel of 21 judges, consisting of wine writers, wine educators, retailers, restaurateurs and other wine professionals. All wines are judged blind.

“I was in the tasting room, just going about my day when they told me there was an urgent call,” says Kareem Massoud, who with his father Charles Massoud, is the winemaker. “Right away I knew we must have won something and sure enough.”

Founded in 1983 by Charles and Ursula Massoud and their three sons, Paumanok Vineyards has become one of the premier wineries in the North Fork. Now at 125 acres (80 of which are planted) with an annual production of 12,000 cases, the winery has accumulated dozens of awards and accolades over the years. Just this summer, Wine Advocate writer Mark Squires awarded 13 Paumanok wines with ratings of 90, 91, 92 and 93 and The New York Times writer Eric Asimov featured Paumanok’s Chenin Blanc in an extensive article about that varietal.

This is not the first Winery of the Year win for Paumanok. The winery last won in 2004. If the results of that are any indication, wine will be flying off the shelves by the case over the next few months. “We’ve had a lot of honors,” says Kareem Massoud. “Not all of them result in direct sales increases. But Winery of the Year the last time really did. It is perfect timing for us, because we have doubled production of several wines and we are expecting even more interest in them now.”

While Paumanok has long been known for its skilled winemaking, Massoud says the winery was helped by the spectacular harvests of 2013 and 2014.

“You can work your heart out and be perfectly meticulous in the cellar, but if Mother Nature is not with you you will not get the same results. There is only so much you can do,” he says. “But if you have a great vintage, it is different. And ’13 and ’14 were standout vintages.”

This year’s competition included 858 New York wines, 20 hard ciders and 32 craft spirits from several regions across New York State including Long Island, Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes, Niagara Escarpment and Lake Erie. On the way to the big win Paumanok’s 2014 Semi-Dry Riesling, took honors for Best White Wine, Best Medium Sweet Riesling and Best Overall Riesling.

This also marks the third year in  row that Long Island wineries have taken Winery of the Year honors. Macari Vineyards won the award in 2014 and McCall Wines in 2013. Here is a short list of other local 2015 winners. For complete results click here.

Best Sauvignon Blanc
Martha Clara Vineyards 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Estate Reserve

Best Vinifera Rosé
Kontokosta Winery 2014 Rosé

Best Cabernet Sauvignon
Osprey’s Dominion Vineyards 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Best Merlot
Harbes Vineyard 2013 Hallock Lane Merlot

Best Pinot Noir
Martha Clara Vineyards 2013 Pinot Noir, Estate Reserve

Best Vinifera Sparkling White
Sparkling Pointe Vineyards & Winery 2005 Brut Seduction, Methode Champenoise

For more information on New York wines click here.