Let’s face it- wine is pretty fantastic. Thousands of years' worth of people around the world join me in this belief. It’s not only delicious, but it’s become somewhat of an art form. It’s a socially acceptable method of focusing on the range of beauty and variety of tastse that one alcoholic beverage can possess. “Wine: how classy people get drunk.” A friend of mine owns that refrigerator magnet. It’s pretty on point. Booze that's also tasty, creative and a conversation-starter/activity? No wonder it inspires so many match.com dates. You can do and learn so much with it....including drink 'til your blues become reds. Ok, bad joke. Wine induces shivers in the already-cold hearts of vodka bottles everywhere. Alcohol isn't just a tool anymore for high school kids to entertain themselves while rebelling against their parents. It isn't just the bonding course for college kids at fraternity parties. It's growing up with us. Well, most of us.
But, really, from growing the vines and dirtying your hands, to corking or uncorking a first bottle, to tasting wine, socializing and learning about the balance of science, natural elements, and passion- there are so many aspects, people, and places involved. It involves people. It's all about people.
New York, our “wine country,” if you will, predominantly
refers to Long Island, and particularly, the North Fork.
Hundreds of local vineyards and family-owned wineries span throughout. It’s
unbelievable. It felt like an East Coast miniature version of California’s
Napa Valley the last time I stopped at a few of them on my way to Newport, Rhode Island this summer.
With that said,
and wineries aren’t exactly synonymous. Actually, the first grapes ever planted
in New York City New York State
were done so right in
by Dutch settlers in the 1600s. Shocking. Although not commonplace, a handful
of wineries actually do exist in Manhattan and the boroughs- eight of them, total, to
be exact. One of them, the Brooklyn Winery, is just a few blocks away from me,
located here in New
York City .
I’ve stopped in a few times before with a few friends and had a glass or two of their in-house wines. They hold movie nights, wine tastings, and seasonal events here, which are, for the most part, free. The
space itself is open, simple but beautiful with sunlight peeking in on summer afternoons. They typically are completely booked every weekend for
weddings, receptions, and any number of work or social parties. I didn’t know
that much about this winery, though, until Saturday. I went on a free tour,
which they offer on Saturdays and Sundays (2, 3, and 4 p.m.). Key word- free. Williamsburg
The two gentlemen who founded the winery, Brian and John, began making wine on the weekends in
of all places, at a “make your own wine” facility. Finally, sick of shuttling
between Brooklyn and New Jersey
to do this, they began contemplating bringing this wine-making a bit closer to
home to the big BK. The winery's location had served as a parking lot, textile factory, warehouse, funeral
parlor, and an art gallery/bar (I remember when it was- if only those walls
could talk…actually, I’m glad that they don’t). New Jersey
Sitting at their extensive mahogany bar, you’ll notice that the bartenders pour many of their in-house wines out of a tap just as they would a Bud Light. Ok, not exactly the same. Much, much more complex. The woman guiding us through the tour explained that it simply makes more sense for them to store the batches of wine into kegs and move them the distance of twenty feet, literally, from one room to the next, rather than bottle it all and carry each individual one to the next room, where their bar is located. How much more local can you get? With a reason like that, I'll gladly accept and thoroughly enjoy wine out of a keg. It sure beats drinking Franzia out of a plastic bag shoved in a cardboard box, eh?
You too could be sitting at a rustic dining room table in
, knowing that in the next room
over, they’re making the glass that you or I will be sipping on in the New Year. Brooklyn, New York
To learn more about the Brooklyn Winery, visit their site: http://bkwinery.com/, attend one of their many free events, or just take the darn tour, like I did.