The Red Hook Winery. Overview
Located at the edge of Long Island in Brooklyn, the Red Hook winery is a place where grapes of New York found their new home. Mark Snyder established the winery in 2008 with a mission to promote local viticulture and put New York state wine region on the map. Over 140 different wines have been created since then, with 20 newcomers joining the wine list of this urban winery every year.
There are three winemakers working at the winery: Christopher Nicolson – the winemaker on site, and two consulting winemakers – Robert Foley and Abe Schoener. Each winemaker follows his own philosophy, producing wines that reflect the climate, soil and viticulture traditions of New York state wine country.
Most of the grapes are sourced locally, primarily from the North Fork of Long Island, with some from the Finger Lakes. Macari, Sannino, Palmer, Fox Run are just a few vineyards that Red Hook winery has long-standing relationships with.
Cellar Tour and Wine Tasting
When you get inside, you end up in a very spacious and rustic tasting room with comfortable seating space and standing bar area. The tasting room is open daily from 12pm to 6pm. You can either have the tasting flight of 4 different Red Hook wines or order by the glass. Every Saturday and Sunday, a quick free winery tour is offered to anyone enjoying the tasting. Barrel tasting is by appointment only.
I really enjoyed the tasting and cellar tour with lovely Sophie Huberdeau, who was my guide and sommelier. We started at the barrel room where I had a chance to look behind the scenes of the winemaking process and to taste the futures wine straight from the barrel.
Wines Tasted from the Barrel
- A quite rare blend of Sauvignon Blanc & Chardonnay by Christopher Nicolson, the vintage of 2017. Fresh and delicate, yet resonant. A wine with a sense of place.
- Skin-contact Chardonnay by Abe Schoener, Macari Vineyard, the vintage of 2017 – skin fermented for 4-6 weeks. Bright and aromatic with added texture and a little tannic grip from the skin-contact.
- Cabernet Franc by Robert Foley, Macari Vineyard, the vintage of 2016 – this wine is packed with fruit, medium-bodied with great texture due to partial new oak exposure.
Then we moved back to the tasting room, where I tasted about 7 more wines.
These five stood out the most:
- 2014 Moraine Reserve Sauvignon Blanc by Abe Schoener (Macari Vineyard) – fresh and very aromatic with some Riesling-like petrol notes.
- 2015 Macari Vineyard Chardonnay by Abe Schoener – 5 weeks of skin maceration and 11 months of lees aging. Fresh and bright this wine has complex floral flavor that turns into tropical fruit later on.
3,4. 2013 Seneca Lake Cabernet Franc by Robert Foley and 2013 Seneca Lake Cabernet Franc by Abe Schoener
These two Cabs (see the pic below) are so different in style you’d never guess they are made from the same grape. The one on the left by Robert Foley is classy and precise. Aged in 20% new French oak it has this oaky kick at first which rounds up and linger on your palate. The other one, by Abe Schoener is somewhat funky and a little rough, yet delicious and loaded with blackberries and spice. Wild yeast fermentation and neutral oak aging shows off the unique character each vineyard and each vintage brings.
Isn’t it amazing how one batch of grape turns into completely different wine in the hands of two different winemakers?
5. 2015 Sannino Vineyard Syrah by Christopher Nicolson – powerful and big, ripe cherry fruit flavor and spicy peppery note in the aftertaste.