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Learn Wine Locally

Originally Posted: September 15, 2006

Lenn Thompson

If you live (or work) in Manhattan, its many culinary schools, endless wine shops and private companies all make finding wine classes about as hard as finding a pizza joint or a Starbucks.

For those of us on Long Island it can be a bit more challenging. But, as the wine region grows and improves its standing, several wineries and organizations are offering a broad spectrum of classes.

One of my favorite programs is the run Stony Brook University's Center for Food, Wine and Culture, which offers sessions at its main campus in Stony Brook, at a branch campus in Manhattan and on the East End. The classes are affordable, just $55 (with discounts for groups or multiple session) and offer access to some of the most interesting and knowledgeable people in the local wine scene. The founding mother of Long Island wine, Louisa Thomas Hargrave, is the program's director and has worked with local winemakers and chefs to put together a great fall lineup that includes

"Island Journeys" which will pair chef Steve Biscari-Amaral's island-inspired dishes with the wines of Palmer Vineyards (October 5), "Wine Appreciation That Doesn't Take You Over a Barrel" with Cliff Batuello (November 2), "The Winemaking Heritage of Italian Americans" with Sal Diliberto of Diliberto Winery (November 30), and "Super-Premium Wine With a Bordeaux Model" run by Long Island wine veteran Richard Olsen-Harbich from Raphael winery (December 7). For more information, to register or for a complete list of sessions, visit their website or call program coordinator Ginny Clancy at 631-632-9404.

They haven't released their winter schedule yet, but on Friday November 17, Channing Daughters Winery will host a tasting class exploring the wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Participants will learn about the region's history and taste several of these delicious wines. Tickets are $75 and participation is by advance ticket purchas only. Call 631-537-7224 for more information or to save your spot.

This summer, Grand Cru Classes invaded the East End, bringing some of the most approachable and engaging wine education with it. Founders Tracy Ellen Kamens and Jared M. Skolnick, have purchased the old Catapano Dairy Farm next to Macari Vineyards on the North Fork and are renovating it to serve as the education center. In the mean time, they are working closely with local wineries to provide its students with hands-on, vineyard and winery experiences in addition to the classroom. The "From Vine to Wine" series explores the entire wine production cycle including grape growing and winemaking itself and includes a tasting of several wines. For those interested in improving their wine tasting abilities, Grand Cru Classes' "From Mystery to Mastery" fits the bill. Participants will be presented with the correct way to sniff, swirl and sip their way through wines, with special emphasis on service and storage. The tasting exercise will include a component tasting with an opportunity to test one's palate as you taste for sugar, acid and tannin

Visit www.grandcruclasses.com to learn more and to sign up for Tracy's always-interesting newsletter.

This is just a sampling of what's out there, ask your favorite wineries about their own classes or visit www.liwines.com for a complete list of wineries and events.

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