One Woman Wines may just be the mother-daughter darling of the North Fork of Long Island. Run by parent-protege team, winemaker-vineyard manager Claudia Purita and general manager Gabriella Purita (who’s studying online to get a degree with the star-making wine institution, U.C. Davis), the winery has been a leader in sustainable winemaking, planting, pruning and picking grapes on its 28-acre vineyard. It’s no wonder the Puritas were tapped to open the TasteNY store in Grand Central this summer, selling New York State-made wines (their own and others), spirits and food products.
We caught up with Gabriella by e-mail to learn about the family’s history in winemaking, what it’s like to grow wine grapes on the North Fork, and the wines they’ll be serving at this year’s Brooklyn Uncorked — including (drum roll!) their just-released 2013 Grüner Veltliner.
Edible Manhattan: Can you tell me a little bit about the history of One Woman Wines? How long has the winery been open?
Gabriella Purita: The One Woman is my mother [Claudia Purita], and she is from Calabria, Italy. My grandfather, her father, had a self-sustained farm and vineyard all his life, which she and her six bothers and sisters helped tend to… My mom’s [task] was to take care of the vineyard with my grandfather’s help. After moving to Long Island and being in the restaurant industry for more than fifteen years, my grandfather passed away. That was a true turning point for my mom, and she decided to return to her roots. We had owned a house across the street from the property for a number of years, and shortly after she closed the restaurant, the piece of property went up for sale. She took that as an incentive to continue my grandfather’s legacy and purchased the property with the intent of preserving. After selling the development rights to the property, she hand-planted our gewürztraminer grapes (2.2 acres) and has expanded the vineyard each year to our current 28 acres. We also have fruit trees, vegetables, goats, ducks, and chickens. We opened our tasting room in 2009.
EM: How has Claudia’s background in restaurants, as well as her family’s farm, influenced the winery?
GB: Claudia is continuing the same practices her father taught her in the vineyard today… we continue to do a majority of the labor by hand: planting, pruning, and picking — and on our own. She not only learned how to maintain a vineyard, but also how to make wine from her father.
EM: How did you get involved with the winery? Has it always been a family business?
GB: The first year, I helped my mom plant the gewürztraminer and have been involved in the business since then. She maintains the grapes and makes the wine [while] I do the front of house business work: accounting, sales, marketing, managing events and the tasting room (the smallest tasting room in North Fork, which opened in 2009), label design and more.
EM: How much wine does One Woman Wines produce each year?
GB: It varies depending on the year, grape growing, like any farming, and winemaking is very weather dependent. Our case production varies from 1,500 to 5,000 cases per vintage.
EM: If you could put into words what your family’s winemaking style is, how would you describe it?
GB: What sets us apart from some of the other wineries is that my mom really allows the “grapes to do the talking.” Our wines are unique each year and one vintage almost never tastes like the next. Each year she tastes the grapes from the vine multiple times and decides how best to showcase the unique flavors of each varietal.
EM: Can the public tour the vineyards? What’s special about the tasting room?
GB: We are a very small tasting room, less than 110 square feet. Since it is mainly my mom and me (although I do have others helping me in our tasting room) we do not do tours… We do have many unique events at our winery, though, that are open to the public. Every Saturday from Memorial Day to Columbus Day (so long as the weather is nice!) we are open from 6 to 10 p.m. for a weekly event called “Tasting Under the Stars.” We have a bonfire, outdoor movies and a telescope to see the night sky; it is a truly amazing event. Our guests bring picnics and can relax and enjoy the quiet serenity of the North Fork. This will be our fifth year doing it!
EM: How is One Woman Wines special to New York State’s wine country?
GB: We focus in on grapes that grow well in our climate and soil type. My mom and my grandfather always say that you need to listen to the land first and foremost.
EM: What are some of One Woman Wines’ best-known varietals?
GB: We are the first on Long Island to grow an Austrian grape called grüner veltliner, which we will be pouring at Brooklyn Uncorked. We currently grow five varietals: grüner veltliner, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, gewürztraminer and merlot (not counting our new plantings, which are new varietals to be grown on Long Island that we are keeping a surprise!).
EM: Excited to taste the grüner! What else will the winery be pouring at Brooklyn Uncorked this year? What’s exciting about them?
GB: Our 2010 Estate Reserve Merlot. In our opinion, it is the best red we’ve created yet! Our 2013 Grüner Veltliner. We are the first on Long Island to grow this varietal; this is our newest vintage that will be released this Friday. And lastly, our 2010 Estate Reserve Chardonnay; this is our award-winning chardonnay. It’s 100-percent new French oak with notes of decadent butterscotch, sweet vanilla and brown sugar.
This post is sponsored by TasteNY.