It’s almost the days of wine and roses in Red Hook.
The first vintage from the neighborhood’s soon-to-open winery will be bottled in the coming weeks — and the makers invited The Brooklyn Paper for an exclusive tour of their Dwight Street libations laboratory.
There, experienced Californians Bob Foley and Abe Schoener employ a mix of traditional and technologically advanced methods for cooking up their own batches of wine under the shared name, Red Hook Wines.
The grapes, of course, aren’t grown in Brooklyn, but come from the North Fork of Long Island. They were crushed and put into barrels in the former arms factory and bordello at the corner of Van Dyke Street, where they sit to this day, fermenting and improving (in most cases).
“Wines are like raising kids,” waxed a sober Mark Snyder, one of the partners that founded the venture. “They become bratty at times. They want to do bad things.”
Large-scale producers may elect to subject the unruly wines to a “rigid structure,” of additives, but his colleagues prefer to “be gentler and more nurturing, though it takes a lot more time.”
The Brooklyn Paper sampled wines that were “maturing nicely” — like a buttery Chardonnay and an herbal Cabernet Franc — as well as rebellious wines that were the equivalent of “a teenager with a nose-ring,” including a Gewürztraminer with hints of Asian spices.
In the early phase of production, some grapes were punched down by hand in barrels four times a day — the ancient way — while others were put in controlled tanks where waters pumped over the grapes performs the same function. This relatively new technique is still a divisive issue among the cognoscenti.
“The only thing that premium producers agree on is the need for gentle handling,” Snyder said, a Gerritsen Beach native.
Across the street from the oenophiles are the beer-makers at Sixpoint Craft Ales, creating a micro brewers’ row smack in the heart of Red Hook.
“This neighborhood is the last outpost for creative, industrial production in New York,” Snyder said.
The first cases of bottled wine will hit the market in late spring or early summer, Snyder said. The dealer says they don’t have a price range in mind yet.
“We want to let the wines become what they are and then determine a price.”