If you’re a New York foodie you probably already know that it’s not difficult to find decent meals and wine bars in Brooklyn, but did you know that there is also a legitimate winery here, which includes a fall wine harvest season where you can enjoy some of the best local wines and a cornucopia of wine related activities?
Brooklyn Winery is set in a strategically designed rustic dining space built from the ruins of a former gallery and nightclub in the north side of Williamsburg. The space accommodates wine tours, restaurant dining and caters to weddings if you’re so inclined.
Founders, Brian Leventhal and John Stires, started out learning how to make wine in New Jersey as a hobby then became a labor of love. Their fondness for wine-making sparked the desire to do it locally in Brooklyn. Within a year they moved California wine-maker Conor McCormack to New York to head their process and hired executive chef David Colston to open up a fully functional restaurant and winery in 2010.
When the harvest season begins, around mid-September through November, Brooklyn Winery receives large shipments of ripe grapes from contracted growers in Norfolk, Long Island, California and the Finger Lakes, NY. The wine making process begins as soon as the fruit arrives. The short version of their process: The grapes are run through a de-stemmer and crusher. The red grapes are fermented with the skin, which is left on for color, and the white grapes go right to the press to separate the skin from the juice. Then the fermentation process begins, where the juice is converted to alcohol. Finally the wine is stored in oak barrels for aging. The aging time for white wines is seven to nine months and red wines are 10 to 24 months. The shortest aging time is about 30 days for the youngest wine, the nouveau. Nouveau is the first wine of the harvest, which has bright notes and still retains its alcoholic integrity.
Harvest is the busiest time for McCormack and his team as everything is time sensitive. The following months are all about careful maintenance of all their craft wines and bringing them out to the patrons at just the right time.
All the staff takes part in the wine-making process at some point so that everyone is hands-on.