Osprey’s Dominion: Good Place to Perch February 22, 2020


On this warm, sunny Saturday, we drove east on Main Road, passing wineries with almost-full parking lots. We theorized that it was the combination of the end of the February vacation and the beautiful weather that had drawn the crowds, plus the promise of music in many of the tasting rooms. I had checked the Winterfest web page before we left home, but it was soon clear that many places had live music they had not bothered to register with the Winterfest page. So I suggest that if you are looking for music, you check individual winery web pages to see what they have scheduled—or just head out to the North Fork and look for the “Live Music” signs.


Many people were relaxing and enjoying the food they brought with them and the music. We would have preferred if Erich Glaubitz had lowered his volume, though we liked the music.

Fortunately, we liked the folky music the singer/guitarist, Erich Glaubitz, was playing at Osprey’s, because otherwise his overly loud amp would have been unbearable. The loud music did make it hard to converse, but we managed. We stood at the bar; however, the room was filled with people who had brought snacks with them, sharing bottles of wine as they sat at tables and enjoyed the sun-filled space. Osprey doesn’t offer much in the way of food, though a sign on the bar offered the “best guac dip EVAH!”—an assertion with which my husband begged to differ, since he makes an awesome guac. We noticed a number of canine companions, so this is a place you can bring your doggy friend.

We enjoyed an instant rapport with our server, who noted that she also kept a notebook for her tastings, and recommended that if we are ever in Windham we look for a terrific wine bar she found there. She helped us with our choices from the list of many wines, after some discussion of our likes. One tasting option is five wines for $12, which was plenty for us to share. We could also have chosen four of their “Library” wines—aged wines that they have just released—for $15. Then we had to figure out which five wines. There are five whites, one rosé, eight reds, and five Reserve Collection wines, a combination of whites and reds. Not to mention three dessert wines.  Oh boy.


One thing I like about this winery is that they have a variety of wine prices.


She set us up with two tastes at a time, and urged us to ask anyone for help if she didn’t happen to be available.


As I drive around the North Fork, I love spotting the osprey nests, which are huge constructions on the top of poles.

  1. 2017 Sauvignon Blanc $19

I like to start with a sauvignon blanc, because they tend to be light and dry, and work well with whatever follows them. This was no exception. Our server noted that she tastes grapefruit, and we agree. My tasting buddy thinks it may be a touch sweet, while I find it tart, and then we decide what is reading as sweet to him is a bit of melon taste when you first sip it. Good with light fish dishes.

  1. 2014 Gewürztraminer $19

Certain North Fork wineries make what I consider exemplary versions of particular wines, and for me One Woman makes the best local gewürztraminer. This one, which also contains some riesling, is not as good as hers. The aroma is interestingly complex, including petrichor and gooseberries. We find it a bit too sweet, especially at first sip, though then it ends quite tart, almost acid. It’s not bad, but I find something a bit off-putting about it.


  1. Richmond Creek Red Blend $14

Richmond Creek is their less expensive label, but we like these wines just fine, and often buy them at Vintage, the wine store in Mattituck. This one is a Bordeaux-style blend, of 42% cabernet sauvignon, 26% cabernet franc, 23% merlot, and 11% pinot noir. The aroma is lovely, combining cherry, mint or eucalyptus, cedar, and tobacco. It is very dry, with some tannins, and nice fruit. This is a good everyday red, a burger or pasta wine.


  1. 2014 Carmenere $30

I was interested to try this wine, since Osprey is the only winery on the North Fork to grow this grape. The 2008 Carmenere is on the list of Library wines, so clearly they feel this is a good wine for aging. I think the 2014 could use more time. The aroma is of dark berries, and it tastes like red plums. Lots of tannins—my tongue feels dry. This would match nicely with a rich beef stew, maybe a boeuf bourguignon.


  1. 2013 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon $39

Our server urges us to try this one, which she categorizes as their best red, having won many awards. She adds that it is blended with some merlot and petit verdot. It is quite good, full-bodied, with lots of dark fruit flavor and mouth-puckering tannins.  It might benefit from further aging. I could see having this with lamb chops.


I didn’t expect to like this, but I did. Nice way to end our tasting.

  1. Warm Spice Wine $16

Smiling, our server brings us this “extra” at the end of our tasting, urging us to try it. This is not a wine I would have chosen, but I find it surprisingly pleasant. It is seasoned with orange peel, anise, and cinnamon, with the taste of orange predominating. I thought it would be too sweet, but it is not at all. If I still skied, I could see sipping this by the fire after a day out on the slopes. Essentially, it is glogg, the Swedish mulled wine. Delicious.

Reasons to visit: pleasant large room, with options to stand at the bar or sit at a table; you can bring your own food—and pup; nice selection of gifts, augmented on this day by a woman selling hand-made jewelry; the sauvignon blanc, the Richmond Creek Red Blend, the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon; and, surprisingly, the Warm Spice Wine. We also like the Richmond Creek Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, which we often buy for everyday drinking at our local wine store.

On the way home, we stopped at the North Fork Doughnut Company and bought these doughnuts for dessert.  On the right is Peach Cobbler, and on the left is Hound Dog, which, since it includes peanut butter and bacon, I assume is an homage to Elvis. Yum.

Sannino Bella Vita October 13, 2013


One view of the tasting room.

One view of the tasting room.

I told my husband he’d miss the Jets/Steelers game because we’d be out for the afternoon, but he was in luck—it was playing (with the sound off) on the flat screen TV in the Sannino Bella Vita/Ackerly Ponds tasting room.  And that wasn’t the only way the good-humored staff was helpful.  The three of us were going to share a tasting when one confessed he might be coming down with a cold.  Could we split one taste by sharing it 2/3 in one glass and 1/3 in another?  We could!  Everyone was happy, including the honeymooning couple who were staying in the Bed and Breakfast associated with the winery, and enjoying their complimentary tasting and so were the drunken fruit flies.

Each time we’ve come, we’ve noticed improvements to the tasting room, and they now have more space than they did at first in their rustic barn.  Bella Vita took over the site from Ackerly Ponds, which continues in the names of some of the wines. On the list, some of them are marked BV, which means they are Bella Vita’s own. There are two tasting options:  eight wines for $15 or four wines for $8.  Since there are eleven wines on the list, plus spice wine, we decide to go with one 8 and one 4. They also offer a cheese tray for $15, and request that people not bring in outside picnics.  As we sipped and chatted, a guitarist with a James-Taylor-type sound began to play in one corner of the room.

Be singer

  1.  2012 Riesling                                    $17

Not surprisingly, since this is made with grapes from the Finger Lakes Region, this is a somewhat sweet wine, though not cloyingly so.  There’s an aroma of spice and goldenrod honey.  It would pair nicely with something spicy.

2.  2012 Chilly Day Chardonnay        $18

Just like most steel-fermented chardonnays, this one has a green apple smell, with tasting notes of citrus.  It is a bit sweeter than one would expect, and one of the well-informed servers tells us that they try to accommodate a variety of preferences, and many people prefer a sweeter wine.

3.  2012 BV Chardonnay                      $23

Only one month in oak make this an only slightly oaked chard, with some ripe pear tastes and the usual vanilla aroma.  It is drier than the first two.

4.  2012 BV Bianca White Merlot    $17

“What a lovely color,” I said, admiring the pale pale pink of this 100% merlot rosé, made from the first press of the grapes, having spent almost no time on the skins.  “Tastes like strawberries,” notes our son.  We agree it is a nicely complex, not too sweet wine, with good fruit flavors.  Quite buyable.

5.  2012 BV Snow Rose of Merlot    $15

And now a wine from the second press, with twelve hours on the skins.  The color is so dark it almost looks like a red, with a bit of a funky aroma.  “Garbage smell?” asks our son.  Fortunately it tastes better than it smells, though its notes of over-ripe fig may not appeal to everyone,

be bit

6.  2010 Cabernet Franc                       $40

Now we move on to the reds.  This one doesn’t have a lot of fruit flavor, and does have some of that earthy smell and taste one gets out here.

7.  2004 Ackerly Ponds Merlot         $19.99

Very nice!  Dry, with ripe purple plum tastes, this would be great with pasta and meatballs.

8.  2nd Bottle Red                                    $12

The name of this wine needs a bit of explaining, as there’s a philosophy behind it.  So often a host wants to serve a good wine as a first round, but feels it is not necessary to serve as good (or expensive) a wine for the second round.  Hence…2nd Bottle.  It is true that one thing the North Fork could use is more less-expensive reds for everyday drinking, and this does fill that ecological niche.   A blend primarily of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, this is a fine table wine, though it would be overpowered by anything big, like a steak.

9.  2010 Merlot                                       $35

Lots of “2s” here—22 months aging in oak, with juice from 23 year old vines.  We like this one, too.  Dry, with a bit of berry taste.

10.  2010 BV Prima Rossa                      $35

Another blend, this one is also aged 22 months, and includes Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.  We smell cinnamon, spice, cedar and find the taste lighter than one would expect from the smell, with some hints of licorice.  It would go great with a Middle Eastern lamb dish.

11.  2010 BV Spotlight Petit Verdot   $45

Another good red, and strong enough to stand up to a steak dinner, this is primarily Petit Verdot with about 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, and has tastes of berry and ripe cherries.  In general, we’re liking the reds better than we did a year ago when we visited Bella Vita.

12.   Warm Spice Wine

Cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice make this wine “smell like Christmas and taste like Thanksgiving,” according to out server.  If you’ve ever had Swedish glögg you know what this tastes like.  Throw in some cranberries and some cut up oranges and you have a nice party drink.


We buy some bottles of 2nd Bottle and our son gets some White Merlot and 04 Merlot.  Good choices

Reasons to visit:  you want to get a step or two off the beaten path (limos or groups larger than 6 only by appointment);  the White Merlot and the 04 Merlot, plus 2nd Bottle if you’re looking for an everyday table wine; a warm friendly atmosphere.