Exclusive Tasting at Red Hook Winery

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*UPDATE*  This event is sold out. Apparently BB readers love their wine and cheese!

Having wine directors like Cory Lane of Momofuku and restauranteurs Colin Alevras of The Tasting Room, and Ben Schneider and Sohui Kim of The Good Fork help sort 12 tons of hand-picked, North Fork grapes in the streets of Red Hook may not guarantee great wine. But it’s pretty good indication that the wine will be special, and not just because it will come from Brooklyn. Everyone is eagerly anticipating Red Hook Winery’s first release this spring because the folks behind it have both California cred and very local sensibilities.

Co-owner Mark Snyder (right) grew up in Gerritsen Beach with parents who taught him to appreciate wine at an early age. What’s early? “5, 6, 7.” Really? “I wasn’t force-fed wine,” Snyder clarifies. But his parents did teach him to smell the Chateau Lafite Rothschild and look at its legs before tasting. “It was a very focused approach that they had,” which Snyder took with him when he began touring with Peter Frampton and Billy Joel as their sound technician. While on the road he met winemakers around the world, many with a taste for music too, like guitarist and singer-songwriter Bob Foley, of Napa’s Robert Foley Vineyards.

Tired of tour buses and hotel rooms, Snyder turned to his other love. In 2005 he opened a boutique wine distribution company called Angels’ Share Wines in Red Hook and distributed Foley’s wines along with those of Abe Schoener’s Scholium Project. But it wasn’t until Abe visited Red Hook two years ago that the idea for Red Hook Winery took root. He casually mentioned he’d like to spend more time here, and Mark gamely suggested they start a winery. When they decided to make a go of it, Mark brought in Bob Foley for his expertise (and the opportunity to see him more often, too) and Abe tagged Christopher Nicolson, from Sonoma’s biodynamic winery Littorai, to be the on-site winemaker.

Now, they’re applying lessons learned in California to the North Fork’s much more temperamental climate. The styles of wine they’ll produce is still a mystery, but their expertise and taste in North Fork wine — Snyder’s a fan of “phenomenal wine producers” like Macari and Shinn, the most sustainable wineries on the Island — is a sign of good things to come.

To get an idea of how good they’ll be, Snyder has offered Brooklyn Based readers an exclusive, sneak peak of Red Hook Winery and a taste of their soon-to-be released wines before anyone else in the city next Saturday, March 21. For two intimate groups of 20 people at 2pm and 4pm, we’ll pair cheeses procured from the goddess of artisanal American cheese, Brooklynite Anne Saxelby, with the several varietals currently aging in Red Hook Winery’s oak barrels, including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Gewurztraminer, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Tickets for the Red Hook Wine and cheese pairing are $20 (available here), and include a tour of the 2,000-square-foot facility led by Snyder himself. Grab a spot now, so when Red Hook Wines’ 2008 Sauvignon Blanc arrives in local wine shops this spring, you can say you tasted it before it was even bottled.

Sent by Nicole. Photos by Michael Harlan Turkell.

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