A love of wine runs in Miguel Martin’s family. Martin, who grew up in Spain with a wine aficionado of a father, recalls his mother putting a bottle of vino on the dinner table before the breadbasket each night. He went on to make wine in the world’s most notable wine regions, including Spain, Chile, Australia and California. Ten years ago, he became the winemaker at Palmer Vineyards, where he has introduced a bit of Spanish flare.
How is Long Island different than the other places you’ve worked?
It’s the most challenging place I’ve made wine because the weather is unpredictable. In other regions, it was dry and sunny all the time. The weather isn’t as a big of a factor. On Long Island, you don’t know one day to another, one week to another, what kind of weather you are going to have. That impacts the grapes and the wine you have.
How do the wines come out differently depending on the weather?
Our wines will never have super-high alcohol. Naturally, we don’t have the heat of other parts of the world. The less alcoholic grapes produce wines with more balance and natural acidity. Food-driven flavors.
You were the first to bring Albariño to the North Fork eight years ago. What made you decide to do that?
My first job in Spain was in Galicia, which is where Albariño is grown. The weather in Galicia is similar to the weather we have on Long Island. Albariño grapes have thick skin so they can handle the humidity and the temperamental weather that we have on Long Island very well.
What inspires your wine?
I think it’s a combination of agriculture/grape-growing and science. I don’t think you can be a good winemaker if you don’t understand the winemaking season and all the aspects of growing grapes. I love to go into the vineyard, taste the fruit and see the evolution of the grapes and make the decisions on when to pick, how much to pick.
What’s harvest season like for you?
It’s the most exciting time of the year for me because it’s the time I can see the fruit of the labor. It’s the connection between land, farming and science. This is the moment we have been waiting for all year long.
What are some of your favorite wines at Palmer right now and why should people taste them?
My 2015 Pinot Blanc is amazing and beautiful. It’s delicious and all-balanced. It’s a challenging grape to grow. They have very thin skin. It’s very temperamental so you really need to be on top of it.
I read your daughter may want to go into winemaking.
It’s something I never tell my kids, “You have to be this, you have to be that.” One day she said, “Dad, I really think I would like your job.” She’s at Geneseo in upstate New York and hopefully she will go to one of the wine schools.
How has the Internet and social media changed the wine world?
I think the younger generations are starting to drink more and better quality of wine. With social media, magazines and newspapers that cater to the wine world, people have more information. People are searching and looking for unique wines. It’s a wonderful time because the amount of wines you have at your disposal is amazing. You can Google any wine and have it in two days.