The North Fork's Vine University will be featured on NBC's "Today Show" on Tuesday, Aug. 16 between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m.
When Clayton Sauer owner of in Greenport got the call that Vine University was to be featured on a national television program he was excited. Sauer said that host Kathie Lee Gifford’s love of wine was behind the filming of the segment.
“The show’s producers saw the Vine University website and they wanted their correspondent to take a crash course in wine making,” Sauer said.
Sauer and Jim Waters, winemaker of in Cutchogue, said they were both excited about what appearing on the "Today Show" could do for the region.
“This national exposure should be great for the whole North Fork,” Sauer said.
The first stop was a quick tour of Sauer’s bed and breakfast. Sauer said the experience was particularly “nerve wracking” for him because he had built up a repartee with corespondant Sara Haines in the first part of the show and the producer decided to take him along for the whole tour. Sauer said he was on camera all day.
Next they moved on to a walk through in Southold with Chris Baiz, where Haines was taught what to look for in a mature grape and why pruning is important. Waters said they showed Haines how to harvest a few grapes.
From there they want to Waters Crest Winery where Waters took over and showed them how to crush grapes with the traditional press and, for the television audience, a little bit of the foot-pressed grapes reminiscent of “I Love Lucy.”
“Everyone had such a good time. This is was a terrific experience for all of us,” Waters said.
Vine University is a two-session wine making program that brings tourists out to North Fork bed and breakfasts, restaurants, and wineries. Sauer said the all-inclusive package starts out with a stay at one of the area’s bed and breakfasts. All meals are included in the package and participants tour vineyards with Waters who gives them a crash course in winemaking. Waters said this “great package” lets participants leave with all the supplies necessary to make 2 and a half cases of wine.
A follow up session in December includes a winemakers’ dinner, where participants' wine is critiqued over a triple-wine pairing dinner featuring wines from Waters Crest Winery, , and at the Jamesport Manor Inn. Participants enjoy an overnight stay, breakfast, and a graduation ceremony.
Demand for the course is up and additional sessions have been scheduled for next year. Waters said, depending on what happens after the segment airs, more dates may be added.
For additional information on Vine University, visit the website.