You wouldn’t think of New York City as fertile ground for growing grapes, but the city is about to give California’s Napa Valley a run for its money with the first wine made from grapes grown in New York City.
Where would you find suitable ground in New York? Why, on a farm, of course!
Yes, New York City has a farm — one of them, to be exact — with goats, sheep, pigs, chicken, ducks … and a cow named Franny.
The Queens County Farm Museum, which sits on 47 acres in Floral Park, Queens, about an hour east of Times Square, is the city’s only remaining working farm.
They’ve been producing fresh vegetables, herbs, honey and eggs for years and run a brisk business with school tours and other programs for kids.
The decision to start making wine was intended to expand their appeal to adults.
“The majority of our audience programming is geared to younger audiences and we wanted to just make the farm more of a destination for adults,” said Amy Fischetti-Boncardo, director of the Queens County Farm Museum.
And, while the soil in Queens isn't your typical wine-country soil, the farm sits at the base of a terminal moraine, a snout-like piece of upswept land, that has actually proven quite helpful in protecting the grapes.
Their first batch of wine is due out May 19 and includes merlot (2006 and 2007), a premium red called Adriance (2006) and two chardonnays (2007 an 2008).
They’ll have a special auction of the first 30 bottles, which will be numbered and have certificates, on Tues., May 18. After that, the rest of the batch will be available for sale at the farm for between $21 and $26 a bottle.
The wines are made with anywhere from 50 percent to 80 percent of grapes grown in New York City, while the remainder are from eastern Long Island, where the wine is actually made.
The idea to add wine to the farm's repertoire was brewing — or aging, as it were — several years before the recession began. Now, in the wake of the recession, reaching out to a new demographic looks like an ingenious move.
But the farm didn’t actually need any help during the recession — the number of visitors to the farm increased by about 10 percent in the past two years. Traffic had already benefited from the "buy local" trend, but got an extra boost from the rising popularity of the "staycation."
Don’t expect to find any NYC wine served at Manhattan restaurants any time soon — the whole point is to drive more traffic out to the farm.
They have dinners on the farm every few months featuring seasonal produce. They don't serve the wine at the "restaurant," but you can stop by and buy a bottle at the gift shop. The “restaurant” moves around the farm each time, so one dinner you might be seated in the vineyard, in the next, the orchard. That way, if you attend more than one, you won’t see the same thing twice. The next one is on May 7.
If you want to try a sample, they're having a wine, food and jazz festival on May 18, where they’ll launch the New York wine with a tasting and auction off the first 30 bottles.
So, move over, Napa! New York City's making wine now. It's got a nice concrete nose with notes of taxi cab and a Broadway finish!
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