Couple Enjoys The Bounty Of Montauk, And Beyond - 27 East

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Couple Enjoys The Bounty Of Montauk, And Beyond

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The Montauk home of Andy Harris and Sally Richardson.  KELLY ANN SMITH

The Montauk home of Andy Harris and Sally Richardson. KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

Andy Harris and Sally Richardson.  KELLY ANN SMITH

Andy Harris and Sally Richardson. KELLY ANN SMITH

Andy Harris and Sally Richardson.  KELLY ANN SMITH

Andy Harris and Sally Richardson. KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

KELLY ANN SMITH

author on Oct 11, 2011

Carl Fisher built 20 unique houses in Montauk in the 1920s. One of the Fisher houses, built in 1929 for his physician, Dr. De Sanctes, is now, four owners later, the home of Andy Harris and Sally Richardson.

The couple bought the 1,500-square-foot house, which sits on a hill not far from town, in 2003. After a seven-year search, the couple moved from a Pierre du Pont cottage in Andrew Wyeth country in Pennsylvania, to what they call their “forever” home in Montauk, they explained during a recent interview.

“We wanted a home, not just a summer home,” said Ms. Richardson.

“We fell in love with it because of the character and the history. This is a house that can tell many stories,” said Mr. Harris.

The conversation moved from the outdoor patio into the living room in seek of shade and relief from the noise of a neighbor’s leaf blower. Moose, the couple’s wire-haired fox terrier quietly followed with a ball in her mouth.

“They obviously knew what they were doing when they sited the house,” Mr. Harris said, as a cool breeze blew through the living room from the open French doors, on a very hot end-of-summer day.

Ms. Richardson grew up in a fishing town 60 miles from London. It was there that she met her husband at a mutual friend’s party in 1988.

Mr. Harris grew up on a farm in New Zealand. Ironically, the same year he and his wife bought their home in Montauk, they also purchased bare land in order to start a vineyard in Martinborough, New Zealand, about two hours from Mr. Harris’s family’s farm.

The couple visits New Zealand every year in March and April to hand pick the grapes at Stonecrop. This year, they are planning an additional fall trip to taste the 2011 vintage.

Starting the vineyard from scratch and finding the proper micro-climate proved just as difficult as finding their home in Montauk, the couple said. They finally settled on the “perfect 20 acres” where the gravelly soil drains into an ancient river bed, hence the name. The boutique vineyard produces about 1,000 cases each of two types of wine: pinot noir and sauvignon blanc.

Right now, the couple is concentrating more on the pinot noir, which has become a big hit. The grapes are more difficult to grow for this varietal but the payoff is higher, they said, adding that their satisfaction comes from the fact that New Zealand is not known to be a big pinot noir producer. However, Stonecrop is breaking new ground with the lighter, yet nuanced, red.

In a New York Times blind taste test of New Zealand pinot noirs published last year, Stonecrop came out number two out of 20 wines.

“Balanced and elegant with well-integrated flavors of red fruit, minerals and oak,” the tasting report noted.

“There’s a saying in the wine business, ‘Good wine is made in the grape.’” Mr. Harris said, “We take that very seriously.”

And though the grapes are grown halfway around the world, some consider Stonecrop to be kind of a “semi-local” wine due to the owners’ home base in Montauk. The wines can be found at Pierre’s in Bridgehampton, Nick and Toni’s in East Hampton, the Meeting House in Amagansett, the Frisky Oyster in Greenport, the Vine Street Cafe on Shelter Island and practically every restaurant in Montauk.

“Our passion is a product of our hand and hopes,” said Mr. Harris.

Explaining how they came to choose one of Mr. Fisher’s historic Montauk houses, built of stone and stucco, Ms. Richardson said that it was the uniqueness, as well as feelings of their roots, that drew them in.

“Me coming from England and he coming from New Zealand, it felt familiar. It’s not cookie cutter.”

In fact, with the exception of a couple of bay windows, the house has retained most of its original details. The couple added only new internal systems, such as wiring, when they moved in.

“Part of our interest in the house is to take care of it,” Ms. Richardson said. “I hope to live here forever.”

Not surprisingly, given their passion for growing things, both are avid gardeners.

“Andy is the fruit person and I am the vegetable person,” said Ms. Richardson, as Moose laid curled up at her feet.

Brushing past a downed Russian olive tree, a bright green tomato hangs onto a beach wood trellis. Shiso, a Japanese herb, and Asian pears are the most exotic of their crops. Mr. Harris goes as far as to use a paint brush to pollinate the pears.

Unfortunately, this year, Hurricane Irene and subsequent heavy rains have done a number on the couple’s backyard and garden.

The couple is much involved in a variety of East End activities: Mr. Harris and Ms. Richardson are members of the East End Classic Boat Society (his biggest hobby is chasing striped bass from his 25-foot Al Steiger); during wintertime, they take their cross-country skis and head toward the Shadmoor cliffs on the ocean or Oyster Pond, off the Paumanok Path; and Ms. Richardson teaches Zumba to local senior citizens. Additionally, she writes a food blog and is a sculptress who carves organic sculptures out of wood or stone in her basement studio. She was awarded “Best Sculpture” in the 2009 Guild Hall Members Exhibition for “Daphne.”

Ms. Richardson said that she also spends a lot of time in the home’s warm and cozy kitchen. “‘The Cook’s Companion’ by Australian author Stephanie Alexander is my bible,” she said. “My bedtime reading is a cookbook.”

Using their bounty to the fullest is key to the couple, they said. A typical favorite in-season meal is striped bass with sliced tomatoes, lettuce greens and a glass of Stonecrop Sauvignon Blanc, Ms. Richardson reported.

“And it all came from us,” she said, smiling.

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