Brooklyn wine lovers crossed paths with locavores on Saturday at three preview tastings at Red Hook Winery. The tastings, hosted by Brooklyn Based, sold out in about an hour, presaging a busy future for the vintner. “A year ago we were talking about this in restaurants,” said Abe Schoener, a California wine maker consulting with winery owner Mark Snyder. From September until Election Day, grapes arrived outside the winery on Dwight Street, and on-site winemaker Christopher Nicolson picked through fruit that was sometimes “disastrously corrupted,” Schoener lamented. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make wine out of it!
Nicolson, Schoener, and Napa’s Robert Foley are using their expertise to transform North Fork fruit fermenting in an old woodshop into an artisanal vintage. The Sauvignon Blanc has a smooth citrus taste, while the chardonnay and Riesling blend contained the “very beautiful strength of Long Island,” exclaimed Nicolson. The reds were unexpected — Schoener called one blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon “the weakest red wine that we have,” but was eager to see what it would taste like in another couple weeks. But that’s the rogue thrill of Red Hook Winery, an experiment in a bottle that Snyder expects to cost $25 to $60 retail. Come summer, look for the bottles in Brooklyn wine stores. You can’t get much more local than that.