by Christopher J. Davies, Publisher
Edited by Steve Inglima, Associate Publisher
Photos by Christopher J. Davies except where noted
Located in Watermill, just a short distance east
of where Sunrise Highway ends and merges onto Montauk Highway, is
Duck Walk Vineyards, a "Big Duck" in the Long Island Wine Country.
Duck Walk is a Hamptons landmark.....and a very formidable winery
with one of the largest wine tasting rooms on Long Island.
Dr. Herodotus "Dan" Damianos, the owner of Pindar Vineyards, purchased
this winery in 1994. Dr.Damianos learned that the winery building,
which is an exquisite reproduction of a chateau in Normandy, is
actually built on an old duck farm that operated in the 1940's.
The building stands on what used to be a road that ran between the
farm. And yes, duckies were known to walk across the road to get
to the other side of the farm. With apologies to Sherlock Holmes;
"elementary my good Ducktor!"
Over these past 5 years, Duck Walk Vineyards has strived to produce
quality varietal wines. They currently offer 12 different varietal
wines plus 3 unique dessert wines. Duck Walk has become one of the
Hamptons most popular travel destinations. Seven days a week, wine
enthusiasts, tourists and sophisticated wine visitors flock to Duck
Walk's tasting room or outdoor patio which overlooks the lush vineyard.
Duck Walk encourages the enjoyment of food and wine. Visitors may
taste the winery's latest releases or purchase a bottle of wine
and snack on cheese and crackers to enjoy on premises. The winery
will sell you chilled or room temperature wines at established pricing,
and a package of cheese and crackers (for only $5.00). You can even
bring your own food if you'd like. Why not bring a picnic basket
and enjoy a chilled bottle of Chardonnay or full bodied Merlot?
On the weekends during the Summer and Autumn you can listen to live
music on the patio. The local Folk/Rock band Simon Ashby has been
pleasing crowds and winery personnel lately.
Want the ultimate economical, but classy date ? Without looking
cheap? Here's a low cost date with a romantic vineyard setting,
great wine.....in the "Hollywood of the East" no less ! Celebrity
Warning: if you do happen to spot a celebrity sampling at Duck Walk,
please remember that he or she is there to enjoy wine, hassle free.
Just tip your glass and smile!
Tastings and Tours are offered seven days per week, free of charge.
Visitors must be at least 21 years old to participate in tastings
at Duck Walk. Multi-bottle and case discounts are offered.
Time is here !
Autumn is the busiest time of the year at the winery. When Steve
Inglima, our Associate Publisher, and I arrived at Duck Walk, we
were keen to photograph the visual flavor of the vineyard. Fortunately,
we were in luck . Winemaker Jason Damianos brought us to the rear
of the building where a truck load of Pinot Meunier grapes was being
carefully loaded into a grape sorter/crusher. This machine is the
first step in separating the grapes from the stems before they go
through the final crushing process.
on Management Style
Alex Damianos is Duck Walk's General Manager. Following his father's
hands-on style, close attention to details and maintaining quality,
Alex can be seen on the front line of the business. He listens to
customer input, mans the retail counter, and oversees activities
in the vineyard.
His younger brother Jason was recently promoted to the position
of winemaker. Jason has worked his way up the ladder to earn this
position. Having first had a stint working as a stockbroker, Jason
received his BS degree in Business at the University of Hartford,
pursued a program in Enology and Viticulture at the University of
California, Fresno leading to his second Bachelor's degree, and
continued his studies at the University of Bordeaux. When I asked
Jason what made him decide to go into the wine business he told
me that it was more fun and interesting than the stockmarket. I
tend to agree.
Prior to his current position, Jason was Duck Walk's Assistant Winemaker.
His first release is the 1997 Southampton Pinot Meunier. Incidentally,
Duck Walk is the first winery on Long Island to produce red wine
featuring 100% Pinot Meunier grapes (the grapes used to make champagne).
Duck Walk Wines
It is not our custom at Long Island Wine Country.com to rate or
score wine. We leave this pleasurable experience up to our readers.
We do however try to taste all the wines offered by our featured
wineries with the intention of providing useful information to our
readers. Taste is up to the individual. So please try as many different
LI wines as you can to form your own opinion. That's our goal.
Steve and I had the pleasure of tasting the full range of Duck Walk
Varietals and Dessert Wines. Jane Fitzpatrick, Duck Walk's Tasting
Room Coordinator was extremely helpful in presenting the full range
of releases in a manner that demonstrated the subtle taste differences
of the 15 wines below.
WALK VINEYARDS -Fall 1999 Wine Selection
1996 Chardonnay Reserve, Barrel Fermented-in French Oak dry and
oakey with a smooth taste, $12.95
1997 Chardonnay, Stainless Steel, Excellent finish, sweeter than
the reserve, $ 8.95
Southampton White, New, Stainless Steel, Semi-sweet to dry Pinot
Gris & Pinot Blanc grapes, $8.95
Windmill White, Stainless Steel, Chardonnay/Riesling blend, semi-dry,
Windmill Blush, Stainless Steel, Compares well to white Zinfandel,
$7.95 750ml,$13.95 1.5L
Windmill Red, Stainless Steel & briefly Oak, DW's lightest Red.
Cabernet, Merlot & Pinot Noir Grapes, $7.95
Gatzby Red, Stainless Steel, Pinot Meunier & Pinot Noir Grapes.
Chill briefly, $10.95
1997, Pinot Meunier, 9 months in French and American oak, 100%
Pinot Meunier Grapes. Dry and peppery, $8.95 Intro
1995 Merlot Reserve, Two years in oak, Dry red, excellent with
Pasta dishes, $18.95
1995,Cabernet Sauvignon, Oak, Intoxicating bouqet,great fruit,large
1995 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Two years in oak, Full, long
body/soothing finish, $24.95
1997, Aphrodite, Late harvest Gewurztraminer, $14.95 375ml $27.95
1997, Blueberry Port, 1 year oak, 1-year bottle (Fortified), Wild
hand-picked Blueberrys from Maine. $12.95 375ml
Boysenberry Dessert Wine, (Fortified), Stunningly tangy $12.95
The tasting room currently distributes two recipes for cooking with
DW wine. These recipes were specially created by Shari Alexander
of Tastemakers. Shari is a food and wine consultant and writer.Please
e-mail us for these recipes:email@example.com
Duck Walk has received many awards and gold medals for it's wines
regionally and nationally, many of which are displayed throughout
the tasting room. Recently "Wine Spectator" gave it's Pinot Meunier
and Cabernet Sauvignon excellent ratings.
My overall assessment of Duckwalk Vineyards is that they offer a
wide variety of excellent wines at consumer friendly prices. The
average cost for a bottle of Duckwalk wine is $12.95 or less with
only a handful of special reserves reaching the twenty dollar range.
I questioned some consumers at the winery and they reconfirmed that
they felt DW offered an exceptional value for their money. This
pricing strategy is a rare practice in the Hamptons.....and clearly
one major factor for the overall success of this winery.
note: Special thanks to Shari Alexander for providing information
which was used to develop this story.
Duck Walk Vineyards
Acreage: Total 88 acres
Welcome to Duck
Alex Damianos General Manager
admires the grapes
Some of Duck
Walk's many awards
View of the winery
from Montauk highway