Wine with a hint of Brooklyn
By Lana Bortolot
Special to amNewYork
A Brooklyn vintner says shes captured the spirit of the borough in a bottle.
In 2005, Alie Shaper founded Brooklyn Oenology, a winery that blends its grapes out on Long Island but distributes out of Brooklyn. The winemaker is part of a growing culinary scene in Brooklyn that focuses on artisanal products.Shaper sources the grapes from several wineries, and blends and bottles them herself on Long Island. She runs all other business functions sales, marketing and distribution from her Greenpoint office. She keeps it as local as possible, right down to the label art created by Brooklyn artists.
A large part of what Im doing is to tie together local product[s], the same way we might eat locally, a movement which is booming in Brooklyn, she said.
Shaper, 36, left a career as an engineer in Silicon Valley to pursue the wine trade. In 1999, she started working in the tasting room of a Hudson Valley winery, then she worked for a wine distributor, and eventually she learned how to make wine as an intern at a crush lab on Long Island.
Her wines retail for $13 to $20, and they are sold in about 50 New York City locations, which are listed on her Web site, BrooklynOenology.com.
Business has slowed a bit during the recession, Shaper said. She produced about 500 cases last year, which was about the same amount as her first year, but down from about 4,500 cases in her second year. She also has suspended some expansion plans.
Am I optimistic? Yes. Am I comfortable? No, she said. Its always challenging to keep all the pieces moving. But the winemaking is the reward, and thats the reason I started this business: to make a well-crafted product and something beautiful that you can have in your life every day.