The Best Long Island Garage Wines In The World

The Best Long Island Garage Wines In The World

The Best Long Island Garage Wines In The World

A fantastic new release from Floral Terranes

 Benford Lepley (left) and Erik Longabardi began making ciders in 2014 and wines in 2017. They continue to make everything in Erik's garage in Roslyn, NY.  Illustration by Jonathan Kemp

For those of you who haven't heard of Floral Terranes yet, here's the rundown: Benford Lepley and Erik Longabardi went from making foraged apple ciders as a hobby to producing the most exciting wines in New York — all in a garage in suburban Roslyn. Erik and Benford are driven, borderline obsessive, and fueled by enough extra energy to also have full time jobs in addition to Floral Terranes: Benford works for a rug and design firm, while Erik teaches public school in East Elmhurst, Queens.

Their newest release of ciders and wine is the best yet, in my opinion. The ciders are as fine-tuned and racy as ever. The wines cover an impressive range. There's the salty, earthy Sauvignon Blanc with 6 days on the skins that will please orange wine lovers but also flip anyone's idea of Long Island Sauvignon Blanc on its head. There's the irresistible, gulpable Abracadabra, which further twists the conventions of Long Island by blending Sauvignon Blanc with Merlot. The "Loving Cup" blend of whole cluster Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon gets into impressive Loire Valley territory, and the Merlot and Cabernet varietal bottlings are just plain serious, age-worthy, classical constructions.

These all have a balance and approachable nature that I can't recommend them enough. They aren't funky in the clichéd natural wine way, but they also are far from the norm. I just wish we had more of them! But I get it, you can't make that much wine in a 150 square-foot garage, can you? So there's a 2-bottle limit on some of these.

BUY FLORAL TERRANES NOW

As the music business has changed, a lot of the earmarks of that culture have shifted to other realms. I love it when our shop gets compared to customers' favorite record stores. It's not surprising, as there are many former musicians in the wine business, including myself and my colleague (and winemaker) Kirk. Another is Erik Longabardi, who used to play drums in the same twangy post-Strokes NYC rock scene where I was playing guitar 10+ years ago. But when he moved to suburban Roslyn, instead of setting up his drums in the garage, he started making mead and cider.

Erik and Benford began foraging apples from underappreciated sites in Nassau County, and started buying grapes from the North Fork in 2017. Their approach is still of the DIY rock 'n' roll ethos. Neither has formal winemaking training, just an insatiable drive to learn and get better. Instead of three chords and the truth, they are working with just the essentials of winemaking as it dates back to the beginning of civilization: healthy fruit and hard work. They don't use anything other than a small amount of sulfur when necessary, and make adjustments to the wines in the cramped garage by the seats of their pants.

Just like the best rock music strips away the artifice in favor of raw energy, the Floral Terranes wines and ciders are a (literally and figuratively) refreshing departure from the typical wines of Long Island. Who needs a tasting room with a driveway that can fit tour buses when you have a 150 square-foot garage? Of course the other difference is attitude. And that attitude is not just one of defiance. Erik and Benford want to build a community through preserving nature in the midst of suburban sprawl. They want to turn their frustrations with their surroundings into positive change. It's one thing to 'grown where you're planted' but Erik and Benford are a good reminder that you have to shake some action in the dirt, too.

Cheers!

Jonathan Kemp

jonathan@vwm.wine

 

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Floral Terranes "Outlands" Cider 2020

$24.00

Apples from the oldest commercial orchard in western Suffolk county; w/pears from the Monastery/Seminary trees, crab apples from Grand Central Parkway and Carle Place High School. Dry!

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Image of Floral Terranes Cider Harbor Hill Moraine 2020
Floral Terranes Cider Harbor Hill Moraine 2020

$30.00

Sourced from an organic, backyard orchard w/ 40 y/o Grimes Golden trees in Orient, North Fork. Mostly GG w/"mystery red-fleshed apple", and Ben Davis (yes, an apple) making up the balance; off-dry, slightly spritzy.

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Image of Floral Terranes Sauvignon Blanc 2020 [2btls max per customer]
Floral Terranes Sauvignon Blanc 2020 [2btls max per customer]

$27.00

Sourced from Macari Vineyards; whole cluster, six-days on skins.

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Floral Terranes "Loving Cup" 2020

$27.00

Sourced from Mattituck, NY - 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 45% Cabernet Franc, whole-cluster fermentation

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Floral Terranes "Abracadabra" North Fork 2020 [2btls max per customer]

$28.00

50% skin-fermented Sauvignon Blanc from Macari and 50% whole-cluster Merlot from a two-acre, backyard vineyard in Orient, Long Island, blended post-fermentation.

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Image of Floral Terranes Cabernet Franc 2020
Floral Terranes Cabernet Franc 2020

$30.00

Sourced from a sustainably-farmed vineyard in Cutchogue, NY on the North Fork of LI - fully de-stemmed before crush.

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Image of Floral Terranes Merlot North Fork 2020
Floral Terranes Merlot North Fork 2020

$28.00

Sourced from a two-acre, backyard vineyard in Orient, Long Island, planted in the 90s - whole cluster maceration for 1 1/2 weeks, aged in neutral barrel

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Image of Floral Terranes Cabernet Sauvignon North Fork 2020
Floral Terranes Cabernet Sauvignon North Fork 2020

$35.00

Sourced from a sustainably-farmed vineyard in Cutchogue, NY on the North Fork of LI - fully destemmed, fermentation and élevage in stainless steel

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