Amy Zavatto has resigned as executive director of the Long Island Merlot Alliance (LIMA), a position she’s filled since March of 2015. Group president Juan Micieli-Martinez, winemaker at Martha Clara Vineyards, also stepped down, though he and the winery remain committed to the organization.

Zavatto, who is perhaps best known as a wine and spirits writer, plans to focus her time there going forward, telling me in an email “The demands and challenges have been such that I don’t feel I can continue to put the amount of time and care into LIMA that the organization deserves. I have a new book coming out, another in the works, and new clients in the magazine and online writing realm. It seems like the right time to give someone else the opportunity to do some great work for Long Island merlot.”

In her two-plus years at the helm of LIMA, Zavatto has compiled an impressive list of accomplishments, including the release of the group’s first rosé, an annual dinner celebrating the release of their co-operative red wine and the creation of the Long Island Merlot Alliance Viticulture & Enology Scholarship and internship programs. She also created “Merlot Rewind” — a New York City-based seminar and tasting event where every Long Island merlot producer was invited to pour their wines for sommeliers, buyers and other wine trade representatives.

Even though she’s stepping away from this official role in the Long Island wine industry, Zavatto will continue to be a champion for the region. And she is thankful for her time with LIMA.

“I have a great passion for the wines of New York and, especially, Eastern Long Island—I grew up alongside it. To have the chance to go to bat for the home team has been an experience I’ve truly relished. I’ve learned a ton and I hope to put it to good use in the future,” she said, adding “LIMA has afforded me the chance to get involved in the Long Island wine community in a way that writing about it simply doesn’t allow. It has also given me the opportunity to work alongside some of my favorite winemakers in our region. Sitting with Roman Roth, Juan Micieli Martinez, Russell Hearn, and Anthony Nappa in blending sessions alone was worth the work over the last three years.”

Zavatto’s new book Prosecco Made Me Do It: 60 Seriously Sparkling Cocktails was released in the United Kingdom last month and will be released in the United States in April. You can pre-order it now, though.  She is also working with the Prosecco DOC to create a panel/seminar on prosecco and how to use it in cocktails and a two-month-long national competition that culminates on National Prosecco Day in May. Expect more information about this book and these projects on these pages.

As for that in-the-works book and beyond Zavatto told me “Im working on a book of essays about drinking with my family, which in a lot of ways is about my dad. And I might just start an entire book about prosecco because there’s, weirdly, only one.”

Editor’s Note: LIMA members will meet soon to discuss the open positions. When I hear more about that, I’ll publish a follow-up story. 

About Author

Lenn Thompson, a proud Pittsburgh, PA native, moved to Long Island more than a decade ago and quickly fell in love with the region’s dynamic and emerging wine community. A digital and content marketing and community professional by day, he founded NewYorkCorkReport.com in early 2004 to share his passion for the wines, beers and spirits of New York State. After running that site -- which became the premier source for independent New York wine commentary, reviews and news -- for 12 years, he launched TheCorkReport.us in late 2016 to add the wines of Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Vermont and beyond to his beat. Lenn currently serves as the wine columnist for The Suffolk Times weekly newspaper and is the former editor of the Long Island Wine Gazette. He contributes or has contributed to publications like Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Beverage Media, Edible Brooklyn, Edible East End and Edible Hudson Valley. Lenn served on the board of directors for Drink Local Wine, and is the creator and founder of TasteCamp, an annual regional wine immersion conference for writers and trade. An admitted riesling and cabernet franc fanatic, he’s intensely passionate about eating local and the many local wine regions of America. Lenn lives in Miller Place, NY with his wife Nena, son Jackson, daughter Anna and their dog, Casey Lemieux Thompson.

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