Last Friday I met Eric Fry, winemaker at Lenz winery in Long Island, New York. Eric refuses to carry a cell phone and drives a Honda Civic hybrid. After following me on 195 West for about 30 minutes he complained that his car’s mileage went down from 55 to 50 miles per gallon...! He uses an email address and does check his email… once a month.
Eric has been in the wine business for over 30 years. He started at Robert Mondavi winery in California as a microbiologist right after college. From there he went on to work at wineries in Australia and France. When he returned to the US he worked as winemaker at Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars in the Finger Lakes region. He has been winemaker at Lenz for the past 18 years. Eric has a tremendous amount of knowledge in wine “growing” and he’s not shy when it comes to sharing his knowledge with others. I can tell that he's committed to making quality wine above any commercial accomplishments.
How good are his wines? I have never tasted any myself (yet… day trip to Long Island in the works), but professional blind tasting results have concluded that Lenz wines are as good as some of the top French Bordeaux wines with a much smaller price tag.
Eric “downloaded” a lot of information onto my brain in the span of four hours. By the time he left on his way back to the ferry, my eyes were spinning and I had a serious headache. pH was one of the main subjects of discussion during our conversation. I already knew that high pH was not a good thing in wine (despite what many California winemakers will tell you), but Eric just confirmed it further to me. I got a quick pH for dummies lesson that I’ll have to revisit many times in the future I’m sure.
Eric is also consultant for many wineries including several in Massachusetts, such as Westport Rivers, Truro Vineyards, and now Running Brook. We tasted and discussed 12 wines that we made at Running Brook this past harvest. His impression was that we could have adjusted some things differently prior to fermentation, especially in regards to pH. But overall, only one wine really seemed to fail the tasting. I have finally found someone who can clarify some of my winemaking doubts and troubles. I’m definitely looking forward to learning more the next time I meet Eric.
Oh…. I also asked Eric if he had any recommendations for someone like me who is looking to start his own winery. His answer went something like this… <<anyone who starts a winery is insane>>.
* Eric's picture from this source.