This past October I was invited to check out some wine making over in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Now, I'd bet you're asking yourself the same thing I did: "Wine making... In Brooklyn?" Yep, that's exactly what's going on and the story behind it is pretty catchy. Former Sound Technician for Peter Frampton and Billy Joel and now turned Wine Distributor, Mark Snyder (a local New Yorker), decided making wine in Brooklyn was just the thing to do. From what I've heard wine making isn't all that disconnected from Brooklyn. Historically, the area was a home to Kosher wine production and much as I've witnessed in small town Italy, homemade wine is an integral part of the culture and apparently thrived among Italian-American immigrants in Brooklyn during years past.
Given Snyder's close connection to two of the West Coast's cult-status winemakers (Bob Foley of Robert Foley Vineyards and Abe Schoener of The Scholium Project) it now seemed time to do a little "West Coast Winemaker meets East Coast Grapes" style throwdown.
Talking to Snyder, you can sense his enthusiasm and passion for wine. This drive is exactly what led to the formation of his company, Angel's Share Wines which, is well-known for distributing quality West Coast wines from the likes of both Foley, Schoener and many others.
In reality, these bold Winemakers faced a really though year. Long Island vineyards experienced an aggressive growing season in 2008 with increased rain, lower than average temperatures and according to one of their growers accounts, the onslaught of hungry birds as the tough little grapes hung on the vines longer than normal for a bit more development.
Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viogner and as you can see above, Merlot are all on the block. Having the opportunity to taste some of the Sauvignon Blanc during fermentation was excellent. The yeast was very much present and while it was still more juice than wine, I was intrigued by the rich, crisp fruit and sweetness that was present given such a though year. If anyone can pull-off this project, I'm betting Snyder, Foley and Schoener are the crew to do it. It'll be really exciting to taste some of these wines in 2009.
I'll be posting some video taken at the yet-to-be-named Red Hook, Brooklyn winery soon. Until then, check out some of the photos I snapped that night up in the Fermented Photo Gallery.