Mark Synder, owner of Red Hook Winery (Lauren A. Smith)
These days, it’s easy to prepare a meal bursting with fresh regionally grown ingredients.
But when it comes to finding sophisticated local quaffs, staying in the neighborhood gets trickier. Sure, Six Points and Brooklyn breweries always have gorgeous beer on tap, but sometimes a special meal calls for more than suds.
If a few renegade winemakers have their way, locavores will be trading tips about the merits of Gotham varietals and indulging in luxurious homegrown tipples. Options abound:
Red Hook Winery
In one of the city’s last up-and-coming neighborhoods, a much-ballyhooed winery has sprung up. Red Hook has managed to produce an astounding array of red and white varietals (Reisling, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose, Merlot, Bordeaux-style blends etc.) from Long Island growers in a damp 19th century warehouse. Several hundred cases have gone out – mostly to local restaurants and progressive wine shops such as Dry Dock Wine and Spirits (718-852-3625) and Brooklyn Wine Exchange (718-855-9463).
Looking for a sweet sip that doesn’t cloy? Brothers Nathaniel and Thatcher Martin produce a nicely balanced honey wine called Brooklyn Buzz. The project was born in their New York apartment, and as they honed their amateurish attempts to brew beer and make wine, they started experimenting with local artisanal honey. Right now, Brooklyn Buzz is only available in the city, at select wine stores and green-leaning restaurants like Astor Wines & Spirits (212-674-7500).
Queens County Farm Museum
This pastoral Floral Park hideaway offers 47 acres of bee-keeping facilities, hayrides, livestock competitions, pumpkin patches, apple festivals – and a budding winery. The winery has been expanding since the first acre of grapes was planted in 2004. As soon as this fall, it could start selling its signature red blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.
In the mid-1600s, Manhattan was the first part of the state to plant grape vines. SoHo’s City Winery (212-608-0555). is the first official Manhattan winery in more than 40 years. The winery acts as parts bar, music venue, private event space and winemaking operation.
Novice producers pay to make their own barrels of wine, which yield about 250 bottles each. The cost starts around $30 a bottle – or $7,500 for a barrel. City Winery also has a barrel-sharing program. Budding winemakers have access to a team of expert winemakers and can pick and choose from grapes from New York, California, Oregon, Argentina and Chile.
Joseph Zakon Winery
Headed out to a Passover seder? Snag a bottle of Joseph Zakon on your way over. A family owned kosher winery founded in 1981, Joseph Zakon produces Muscatini from Muscat grapes grown in northern Italy. Zakon started making wine for his congregation in Crown Heights, Brooklyn; business boomed and these days he and his wife Michelle crank out wine and grape juice from their Brooklyn facility. Look for them online at catchwine.com or shopping.com.