About fifteen years ago I fell in love with wine. I read about it, drank it, and celebrated it as often as possible. About ten years ago I fell in love with craft beers and made the transition. Over the last eight years, I drank less wine and more beer, primarily because the hangovers are very different, but also beer seemed easier for me to pick up. It wasn’t until I was working at a brewpub that I discovered Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, Long Island. I was introduced to them with a dry rosé cider, two things I never enjoyed: hard ciders and rosé wines, but that first sip was a turning point in my life and back into the world of wine I dove.
Why am I writing about Wölffer Estate Vineyard if I’m the arts contributor? Aren’t I supposed to be showing off street art and describing my favorite gallery pieces? Culinary arts such as craft beer, wine, and cheese pairings is an art. It doesn’t deserve to be dismissed, there is quite a bit of design at play! The profiles of each sip paired with individual bites and the presentation shouldn’t be overlooked; I don’t have that flare of substituting recipe ingredients on a whim when I realize I don’t have any or the store nearby doesn’t carry what I crave, but a culinary artist does. A culinary artist knows when to blend the unthinkable or how to present the most ordinary dishes.
The first time I went to Wölffer, it was packed. I wound up sitting in a chair draped in animal skin by a window, a perfect little corner to observe the servers whirling back and forth, carefully coordinating the pick-up’s of flight boards & drop off’s of empty cheese trays, and customers gathered in their parties sampling a wide range of reds, rosés, and whites. Sometimes even the bubbly! The last time I visited, I asked if they were open because I’d never seen them empty. It was a shocking sight at first, but sure enough people started to happily arrive and it was not long after seats were filling up outside on the patio.
The estate is gorgeous, the vines weave through the trellises in the backyard and go as far as my eyes can see, grapes sunbathing, growing juicy and strong for the next batch. A very regal one-eyed gray kitty named Cyclops reigns over the property sometimes doing his rounds, other times napping wherever he feels comfortable. Cyclops is your typical friendly cat who likes fifteen seconds of rubs and then scratches the hell out of you! But he’s totally cute therefore forgiven. There’s a rustic, chill vibe of the tasting room; it’s a great place to sip some wine and get a little writing done! The production area lives on the floor below; you can view the tanks from above through windows, and I’m sure on a good day you can watch the crew make magic.
Living in the city, I tend to get distracted by all the activity surrounding me, so a trip to a vineyard was a good choice to take a break from urban living and unwind a few days. It is always pleasant to treat oneself to these mini-getaways, to remove myself from daily duties to gain perspective. This area is very laid back, people don’t seem generally interested in each other or what’s happening around them, they seem to just day-drink and enjoy life. The servers are extremely friendly, welcoming, and knowledgeable. Their descriptions of the wines are eloquent and do the trick of making me want to just buy everything! On this particular trip, however, I only had two glasses of rosé and left with a couple of bottles to go. They even have a membership you can join where once a month you receive wine and goodies delivered to your door. Ahhhh, life is good!
Your best days don’t have to be at the vineyard, but there’s something very special about seeing where your wine is made. Wölffers has made me feel like royalty (even the sharp-toothed Cyclops) and I think much like my annual beach camping trips have become a tradition, so will a visit to the estate to engage in the joys of being alive, happy, and healthy. Perhaps I’ll see you there next summer!