At Staten Island Winery, wine enthusiasts transform into bona fide winemakers. They do so under the guidance of Bob Rando, who holds rank as the winery's owner and as an accredited winemaster. Bob and his team walk aspiring vintners through the process, starting with the crushing of grapes and ending with the bottling of finished products. Participants can even choose what kind of wine they make, either by selecting from the facility's list or coming up with their own blend.
Brooklyn Winery's team crafts small-batch, artisanal wines in Williamsburg?and if winemaking in an urban environment sounds odd to customers, they can always find out how it works during Tuesday winery tours. The tour guides walk groups through their entire process, from the moment the grapes arrive at the facility to when the cork goes in the final wine bottle, trapping the wine genie inside for good. Of course, the process varies from wine to wine. The team ages some vintages in stainless-steel containers, while the barrel-fermented riesling is aged, predictably, in oak barrels, an old-school technique that originated in prerefrigeration Germany. The result? A quirky riesling with hints of soapstone, mushroom, and honey.
The team doesn't just reclaim old German traditions, though. For their unpretentious 1,200-square-foot wine bar, they also reclaimed most of the building materials. In the cozy, unpretentious bar, visitors sip vintages pulled from wine racks that were once World War II ammo boxes; the walls, meanwhile, were barn wood in a past life, and the bar itself is made from old church pews, completing the aura of modernity rooted in history.
A vineyard-lined drive and the panoramas of the Sourlands provide a feast for the eyes to complement the rich taste of Old York Cellars' wines, which include malbecs, syrahs, and chardonnays. After taking in the sights from beneath a shady umbrella on the expansive, stone-accented patio, oenophiles retreat to a timber-frame tasting room and sample from the award-winning wines and chocolates. To support the community, the vineyard also holds regular art exhibitions, holiday events, and meet-the-artist events.
At Grape Beginnings, passionate wine aficionado Frank D’Aponte splits his time between producing his own high-quality vintages and instructing others on how to do the same. Frank has a decade of winemaking experience under his belt; as a third-generation winemaker, grape juice runs through his veins. Frank has deepened his knowledge with extensive travel throughout the Napa and Sonoma valleys, studying under master winemakers such as James Allen of Sequoia Grove Vineyards. Novice vintners delve into every aspect of the process, including pressing fresh grapes from California, Chile, Italy, and Argentina, racking in oak barrels, and bottling with custom-made labels.
Swirling, sniffing, and sipping are as familiar as breathing to the sommeliers at The Wine Cellar. They invite patrons to join them in complimentary wine tastings to be sure they’ll find just the right bottle to complement a romantic meal, dinner party, or moped christening. In addition to small-batch and local wines from boutique vineyards, the shop imports pinot noirs from around the globe, shirazes from Australia, and Italian vinos of all varieties.
The Grape Escape intoxicates senses with interactive, winemaking courses that yield 12 bottles of wine over the course of four sittings. Each 60-minute sitting separately integrates the various stages of winemaking: crushing, pressing, racking, and bottling. During spring, crafty oenophiles gather and sift through scores of South American grapes shipped straight from Chile and Argentina. Classes commence upon choosing the type of fruits, barrels, and aging durations that will foster forthcoming fermentation. Crush sweet juices from well-measured mounds of nature's candy before reconvening about two weeks later to begin the pressing process. Work the wine press to extract elixirs and transfer them to your oak barrels of choice. After learning how to properly rack wines during the third sitting, burgeoning vino makers conclude courses with a bottling and custom-labeling session that curbs urges to conceal beverages in paper bags.