John Gizzi and Diann Greco, the American Wine Society?certified wine judges at Make Wine With Us, teach wine aficionados to create their own wines using grapes harvested in Californian and Chilean vineyards. At the start of the nine-month process (California grapes in the fall, Chile grapes in the spring), winemakers-to-be assemble with fellow enthusiasts to learn the intricacies of the trade. Patrons learn to crush and destem grapes in a machine called a crusher-destemmer, named after the device's favorite Germanic metal band. Following the crushing process, a hydraulic press forces juice into barrels, where it shall remain until the conclusion of its sweet, sweet metamorphosis.
At the end of the nine-month period, newly minted winemakers lean on family and friends to fill, cork, and custom-label the finished product. Budding vintners then tote home their vintages to share with family, friends, and robot butlers with built-in carafes.
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.
The Gnarly Vine doesn't have any trouble winning visitors' affections, perhaps owing to its romantic atmosphere, as described by Westchester Magazine, or perhaps because of its abundance of wine. Westchester Magazine ranked the relaxed venue as one of the best bars in Westchester and also named it the Best Chill Bar Spot in 2009. Featuring a menu of seasonal small plates and a wine list that rattles off more than a hundred vintages by the bottle, The Gnarly Vine inspires the sharing of dishes, toasts, and fire-safety reminders across candle-lit tables.
When wine distributor Jennifer Deutsch envisioned Crush Wine Bar, she wanted a place that “feels like you’re in someone’s living room,” as she told the Journal News. Indeed, there’s an intimate feel to the place: you can sit at a comfortable couch or stand by a gas fireplace as you sip any of more than 50 wines by the glass and bottle. The kitchen staff creates small, inventive bites designed to complement each varietal of wine. Of these plates, you can dine on their roasted-mushroom and spinach-artichoke dip, share platters of cured meats, or replace your spare tire with a wheel of creamy baked danish brie.
Al Dente Italian Trattoria's owner and chef, Anthony Delfino, creates intimate dinners with a focus on great food and a welcoming atmosphere. Crafted with passion from fresh ingredients and following authentic recipes, Delfino's menu of hearty Italian fare sails to tables dish by dish for relaxed meals that unfold over the course of several hours. Dishes can also be served all at once, family-style, for large groups or patrons who like to put calamari on their cheesecake. An extensive wine list spares patrons the trouble of stomping their own grapes in the parking lot, with cabernet, pinot grigio, and other varietals enhancing the rich cuisine's subtle flavors.