My father, Cosimo Scarola, was the youngest of 14 children. He grew up on a masseria, a small family farm, in Sannicandro di Bari, Italy, a port city on Italy's southern Adriatic coast.Dad was a prisoner of war during World War II and after many hardships following the war sought a better life in America.
In 1947, my father hid in a steamship and made it to New York City, where he was detained at Ellis Island and eventually deported back to Italy. After a second failed stowaway attempt in 1950, he was released to Cuba, leaving my mother and two older brothers behind in Italy. After three difficult years in Cuba, dad was able to reunite the family, and they immigrated to Montreal, Canada, where, in 1958, I was born. In 1960, we legally entered the United States, fulfilling my father's dream by joining uncles, aunts, and cousins in Astoria, part of the New York City borough of Queens. To commemorate my family's efforts to make America home, our Scarola Vineyards label depicts the arched window in the Great Hall of Ellis Island that afforded the newest Americans a tantalizing view of the New York City skyline.
A New York Masseria
Ironically, when our family settled in Astoria, our residence was a former farmhouse – the only detached house on the street – flanked by fertile farmland, very similar to our masseria back home in Italy. Here, we planted the seeds of our Italian heritage and watched them flourish in their new environment. Grapes, peaches, cherries and figs grew in abundance amidst the urban landscape. I vividly remember raising chickens and ducklings in our backyard and, also, making wine. It didn't matter how old you were, everyone did their share, including me. Winemaking was a family activity that always culminated at a dinner table graced with delicious Italian food and plenty of wine!
Second Generation Dreams
While I was building a career designing and implementing software for financial institutions like JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Deutche Bank, and Bankers' Trust, my yearning to be outdoors drew me to the vineyards of Long Island. In 2003, at a food and wine event on Long Island's East End, I watched Roman Roth of Wolffer Estate accept a "Winemaker of the Year" award. Emboldened, I contacted Roman, who became my winemaking consultant. Under his skillful tutelage, I have fine-tuned the winemaking knowledge I accumulated while producing vino for our family.
Creating a New Italian-American Tradition
As I honed my skills in the vineyard and winery, I acquired top-quality grapes from some of Long Island's finest vineyards to create Scarola Vineyards' first wines. They're made from the region's most successful varieties: Chardonnay, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. My family and I are also planting a vineyard of our own on the North Fork of Long Island, on the site of the beautiful Cedar House on Sound Bed & Breakfast (www.cedarhouseonsound.com) that we operate with our cousins, David and Donna Perrin.
Becoming a commercial winemaker has brought me a deeper appreciation of my Italian-American heritage. I want Scarola wines to reflect those values and customs: the wholesomeness of hearth and home and the joy of family and friends sharing good food and wine at the table.
Tutti a tavola a mangiare e bere vino!