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10 Questions with the Winemaker: Jenny Smith, Assistant Winemaker at Pellegrini Vineyards

How long have you been at Pellegrini?
In total, close to 10 years.  It was my first job in the industry when I was 16 after growing up and receiving formal wine education. I’ve now been the assistant winemaker for four years.

How did you get into winemaking?
After years of experience in the tasting room and wholesale, I was itching to get into the cellar. With the help of many cherished industry friends, I was able to get my foot in the cellar door at Lenz in 2018.

Who or what has influenced your winemaking style or practices?
I credit my knowledge of winemaking fundamentals to Tom Spotteck, winemaker at Lenz. His methods are the perfect balance of creative, experimental, and traditional.

What is your favorite wine to drink?
One favorite is impossible. Generally speaking I prefer whites with rich viscosity and low or no residual sugar. Dry Rieslings, Pinot Gris. For red I prefer complex and delicate varietals such as Pinot Noir.

What is your favorite wine to make?
Our Vintner’s Pride Chardonnay.

What is the best wine you’ve ever made?
I’ve only called four wines perfect in my life, three of which I had no part in. And then there’s the 2019 Pellegrini Cabernet Sauvignon. Expect to see this available in our tasting room by 2025.

What makes winemaking special on Long Island?
Many will say our microclimate or vintage variation - and they’re not wrong. Yet, after many years of being a part of such a wonderful industry, I can tell you it’s our community. All Long Island vineyards root for each other, share equipment and even staff when needed. We thrive as a region together!

What makes Pellegrini wines special or different from other Long Island wine?
Being one of the founding vineyards, our best vines are now in their prime, producing consistently incredible wines. Also the fact that our head winemaker, Zander Hargraves, studied in Burgundy, which I believe translates directly to the high quality of our Chardonnay.

Does Pellegrini have any commitments to sustainability?
Absolutely, we have implemented a great composting program in out vineyard, and our new vineyard manager, Emmett Phinney, plans on expanding our sustainability into new areas.

What else do we need to know about you or Pellegrini Vineyards?
Pellegrini is home to me. My grandfathers (many generations) farmed the land on which the vineyard now lays. I’m fortunate enough to rent the original farmhouse my grandfather was born in, which is next door to the vineyard. I walk to work. Also, my fiancé and I started a flower farm, Lily Pad Acres, and between my ventures I keep plenty busy. 

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