Anyone who's emerged from the Bedford stop in Williamsburg is prepared for the onslaught of skinny jeans, tousled hair and plaid shirts heading to a bar for a PBR or two. But the fact that a place like Brooklyn Winery has established itself in the neighborhood says a lot. Fancy condos dot the waterfront. The longtime immigrants are mostly a distant memory. More young professionals have pushed out the artists and creative class.
Or maybe Billyburg's scrappy denizens have finally grown up, and simply crave Pinot Noir more than Porkslap Pale Ale. But this is Brooklyn after all, so the do-it-yourself and locavore movement matters. Brooklyn Winery caters to these oenophiles. Brian Leventhal, one of the co-owners, and Conor McCormack, a veteran winemaker, will be making 20 barrels of Chilean wine -- the first ever in Brooklyn.
The Chilean grapes are on a ship headed toward New York. Once they arrive, you can select one of three packages, ranging from $450 to $5,700. The wines will be a blend of Carmenere and Malbec grapes. Depending on what you choose, you could be doing everything from crushing the grapes to bottling the wine. Even custom labels can be printed (past ones have included "Call Me a Cab" and "Bedford 2011 Syrah.") You can be as involved as you want to be.
"There's really no chance they're going to screw up," Leventhal said.
Once you pass the warm front room with its reclaimed lumber from barns, communal tables, World War II ammo boxes used as wine racks and vintage Remington typewriter on the bar, you enter a garage-like space filled with sleek, steel machines like the "crusher de-stemmer." Red wines sit in oak barrels in a temperature-controlled room to the side while most white wines are stored in stainless steel barrels. Brooklyn Winery's customers include everyone from Google employees in their early 20s to entire families getting their hands dirty.
"You feel how close they are to the wine when they're so involved," said McCormack, who added that Brooklyn Winery hopes to source grapes from Australia and Argentina one day.
While the grapes have yet arrive, some of the Chilean-wine-making spots are already booked up. Brooklyn Winery is also open as a wine bar, and brunch service starts soon. While wine may not personify the image of Billyburg, the wine-making process does.
There are three Chilean wine-making packages. The introductory ($450) gives you a taste of wine-making with the least time commitment and you'll get 12 bottles. The standard package ($3,500) includes 144 bottles, a barrel planning session, custom labels, barrel tasting sessions and more. And the premium level ($5,700) nets you 288 bottles plus private crush, blending and bottling sessions. Sign up by calling Brooklyn Winery or e-mailing email@example.com.
213 N. 8th St., Brooklyn; 347-763-1506