By the time Ulrich and I reached Paumanok, Charles and Ursula were waiting for us in the tasting room. Ursula greeted him in German; I asked her to have Ulrich to spell the name and his family’s winery- never mind he’d been speaking perfectly good English to me for the past hour. (I’d ascertained- somewhere between the dump and Paumanok that Ulrich and his brother ran a small winery in southern Germany called Weingut Gehrihof.) The two of them produce an enormous ranges of wines, including sparkling Riesling, Pinot Gris which Ulrich called “Pinot Grigio,” and Pinot Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Riesling and Blaufrankisch and about seven other grapes I can’t remember. And they did all this on only seven hectares of land- or around 15 acres. “That’s a lot of grapes,” I gaped. Alas, I couldn’t taste any of them. Weingut Gehrihof didn’t export. “We only sell locally,” Ulrich said. “But you should come visit us.” Ulrich had also told me he’d been much impressed by Lenz wines and thought Eric was a very good winemaker (I didn’t ask what he thought of Eric’s politics.) He’d liked the Riesling of Raphael but hadn’t gotten to spend as much time with Rich – and neither Roman Roth or Chris Tracy were in town, alas.
When I waved goodbye to Ulrich at Paumanok, he was standing between Ursula and Charles, looking as if he’d known them forever. I felt sad about meeting- and leaving -him so abruptly but there weren’t two people I’d be happier to serve as his last impression of the North Fork.
Postscript: Charles and Ursula both wrote to tell me they’d enjoyed their time and tasting with Ulrich and that he was a very interesting young man. But Charles made a very good point. There has been a lot of talk lately from the MTA about suspending rail service out to the North Fork until the late summer and then only on weekends. Never mind that the region pays millions in taxes and the region’s commuters would be left largely stranded. If there are no longer going to be any trains, how could the next German winemaker- or any lover of wine- find their way out to the North Fork next time?