Meet Long Island’s First Certified Organic Wine

Photo courtesy of LI Wines

Long Island’s first NOFA-NY-certified organic wine may be made by Anthony Nappa, but the story, he says, is as much about the grape-grower as it is about the winemaker.

Nappa’s Bordo Antico is an unoaked, wild fermented Cabernet Franc crafted in an Old World rustic style made with no additives and only certified organic grapes grown at The Farrm, Rex and Connie Farr’s organic and biodynamic farm on the Calverton–Baiting Hollow line.

The Bordo label began in 2010—the name Bordo refers to the Italian name for Cabernet Franc—but it wasn’t until the 2016 harvest that Bordo Antico (the word “antico” or ancient differentiates the organic wine from the conventional Bordo label) came to be.

“The story about the wine is the story of what the vineyard has been able to achieve,” says Nappa, who, in addition to producing his own line of wines with locally-sourced grapes, is the winemaker at Raphael. “I was given the opportunity to buy his fruit and for me it was a no-brainer; if I was going to work with his fruit, of course I was going to try to make an organic wine.”

Rex and Connie Farr have been diligently toiling at the soil on their 60-acre farm for the past 30 years. A former music industry producer working with artists like Weather Report, Rex bought the property originally for a music studio, but as he phased out of the industry he found himself reassessing the property. In the late 80s the couple began to plant, starting with cover crop and moving into supplying restaurants and farmers markets as the business evolved.

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One of my favorite tasting room visits EVER was to @anthony_nappa_wines on the North Fork of Long Island, New York! Handcrafted, certified organic wines that are the truest expression of the Long Island Terroir, & many with less than 300 cases produced. The Ripasso merlot is "repassed" over the skins of Malbec and Petit Verdot (I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Malbec is growing in NY) and the result is delicious. A true wine geek wine and some of the best I've ever tasted. Bordo Antico (named after the Italian name for Cabernet Franc) is a rustic, full bodied wine that has this gorgeous green pepper & herbal note that I couldn't get enough of. Thank you Anthony Nappa Wines for such an incredible experience! . . . . #somm #sommlife #winelover #winetasting #wine #wineblog #wineteller #foodandwine #winesocialclub #instawine #longisland #drinkwine #wino #winelife #cheers #vino #drink #sommelier #northforkLI #wineenthusiast #corkdork #LIwinecountry #winerylovers #cabernetfranc #wineenthusiast #womenwholovewine #anthonynappa #LIwine #sustainable

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“We made every mistake,” Rex recalls. “We learned by reading and going to seminars.”

Today they grow dozens of crops, but dedicate 15 acres to two types of tomatoes and two or three winter squashes to supply supermarkets. “After 30 years I have learned: keep it simple, stupid.”

Rex was committed to organic, biodynamic methods from the start.

“I came out of the service in 1969 and I was swimming in the Atlantic and it just wasn’t the same ocean as when I was a kid,” he says. “I didn’t know how to spell Jacques Cousteau, but I knew it wasn’t the same.” That experience encouraged him to tread lightly on the soil. He first got NOFA certification around 1990.

They started planting grapes in 2005. “Someone probably told me I couldn’t do it, so of course, then I had to,” says Rex. Now he has nine acres planted with Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carmenere. Some of which he keeps to make his own wine and most of which he sells to winemakers.

The difference with Anthony Nappa is that Nappa chose not to blend with other grapes, but to produce a wine entirely from Farr’s grapes.

“What I respect about Anthony is he doesn’t combine our grapes,” says Rex Farr. “It is pure terroir, the essence of the land. When people drink it, they are tasting our soils.”

Anthony Nappa says this 330 case first run is just the first of what he hopes will turn out to be more organic wines from Long Island. Now that he has learned the certification process (which took about 6 months and required a great deal of meticulous record-keeping), he believes the next time will be more simple.

In the meantime, if you would like to taste Bordo Antico—which is a soft and rich wine with raspberry and licorice notes—you’ll find it in the tasting room of The Winemaker Studio (2885 Peconic Lane in Peconic).

If you’d like to visit The Farrm, call ahead to 631-369-8237. The Farrm is located at 156 Young’s Avenue, Calverton 11933.