Brooklyn Winery

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May 21, 2012 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Wines of Brooklyn Winery Winemaker Conor McCormack

This is all you need to know about the winemaker at Williamsburg’s very own Brooklyn Winery:

“Making wine wasn’t on my radar until I saw a craigslist posting for a harvest intern in 2003 while hunting for a job post-college. It was serendipitous, but once I got into it, there was no stopping.”

Left to right: John Stires, Conor McCormack, Brian Leventhal

That quote comes from Conor McCormack’s bio on the Brooklyn Winery website. It’s nearly a verbatim-repeat-quote of what he told a group of about 40 of us this past Thursday, the 17th of May, 2012, just before we got into a four course wine and food pairing of Conor’s latest bottlings.

Prior to making his home here in the east, his wine-country experience is fruitful and spans stints from Napa to Washington State and looks like this: Crushpad SF, Rutherford Hill Winery, Brehm Vineyards, Audubon Cellars, and White Salmon Vineyards. Pretty fabulous places.

Conor’s serendipitous rendezvous with the art of making wine, now into it’s ninth year  and laden with cellar stellar experiences establishing his “vine-street-cred” should impress you – but honestly, stop reading this blasted blog and go to Brooklyn Winery and have a few glasses of his wine. Treat yourself to a marvelous sensory experience. And since you asked my opinion so kindly I’ll give it: try the Pinot NoirAhem. The Carneros Pinot Noir. Think about this: the fruit was picked in Carneros and shipped east, fermented and aged at Brooklyn Winery. When you nose this wine, it is so distinctly Carneros that it should take everything within to remember that after enjoying a glass you are in Brooklyn and have to get on the subway to go home, not in a car to drive north to Napa or south to San Francisco. The simple fact that Conor has been able to maintain the integrity a Pinot that is so distinctly of another place from fruit shipped across the country, fermented in Brooklyn and aged in used barrels, is a testament to his winemaking skill, cleanliness and philosophy.

The Brooklyn Winery has become a hub for amateur and serious wine enthusiasts excited to be near barrels and tanks and to taste wine made on-site. It’s also become a go-to for events – lots of events – especially weddings. Lots of weddings. And lots of weddings means lots of brides. Brides asking, pleading, demanding and suggesting that the space, the physical space (where tanks and barrels and winemaking equipment resides) be arranged and rearranged to fit the perfect vision of their impending marriage. And with weddings comes the wedding train and all its glory and pomp and circumstance a.k.a. a nightmare for a winemaker. I’m not suggesting that BK Winery entertains foolish requests, or that they rearrange the crucial areas where wine is racked and fermented, but when a winery is beholden to events, it is often the winemaker who must make sacrifices – sacrifices in quality control. Whatever Conor’s urban winery fate, he has managed to maintain the quality he knows his wines deserve and as a result is producing wines worthy of some serious attention.

The evening’s food pairings by Executive Chef David Colston looked like this:

Scallop Ceviche with Cantaloupe, Chorizo, Basil and Lemon Verbena. Paired with:

BKW Riesling (two glasses: one aged in stainless steel and one in neutral oak! Yes, neutral oak!)

Spicy Seafood Risotto with Monk Fish, Lobster, Squid and Heirloom Tomatoes. Paired with:

BKW Chardonnay aged in Stainless Steel.

Long Island Duck Breast with Mini Yorkshire Puddings and SPring Vegetables. Paired with:

Paired with BKW Pinot Noir - MY FAV and the one bottle I didn't grab a shot of. That's a glass of it. Aged in 20% French and 80% Neutral Oak.

Cheesecake with New Jersey Strawberries and Rhubarb. Paired with:

BKW Rose of Zinfandel, aged in Stainless Steel.

The good and loyal readers here at Winetology know that I don’t like to give descriptors of wine. (It’s not because I don’t have a certification and am incapable of using good wine descriptors, okay?) I find it to be a foolish thing, since no two noses or palates are the same. And you don’t need me to tell you what kind of Jolly Rancher I get out of the rose either (watermellon). Decide for yourself and imagine that these photos are scratch and sniff (just don’t send me a bill when you ruin your iPad). Or better yet, head to Brooklyn Winery and say to the winetender, “Winetender! Jonny says I want a glass of Conor McCormack’s Pinot Noir!” And when he gives you the Chardonnay, don’t make that face and tell him you don’t drink Chardonnay. Drink it, be surprised, and then order the Pinot.   By then, I’ll be sitting next to you draining my cup dry.

"A Wine & Food Pairing" at the Brooklyn Winery in Williamsburg.


May 24, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

Whirlwind WineWeek: Blending to Trefethen Family Vineyards

The Noble Rot and Trefethen Family Vineyards | Williamsburg, Brooklyn | Friday, May 20  Photo by Laura Huben

It was an exhausting and rewarding week for The Noble Rot: we hosted three Blending Events at BK Winery and then on Friday, May 20th, Loren Trefethen of Trefethen Family Vineyards joined us as we tasted through six of his family’s incredible wines.

Trefethen Family Vineyards have been producing outstanding wines since the early days of Napa’s revolution. When the valley was planted as far as the eye could see with Walnut trees, the Trefethens were planting Riesling and Cabernet and Chardonnay. In 1979 at the World Olympics of Wine (France’s best effort to reinstate their status as supreme ruler of all things wine after the infamous 1976 Paris Tasting) the Trefethen’s Chardonnay took first place. In fact, Loren tells an amazing story about the reaction by the French Wine Hierarchy. Listen here: Trefethen Chardonnay (4:43)

The Chardonnay that sailed a thousand Chardonnays! Photo by Laura Huben

Very exciting for the Noble Rotters present was the fact that not a soul on the east coast prior to last night’s tasting had ever sampled the 2007 Harmony Chardonnay or newly released Dragon’s Tooth—a blend of Malbec, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. For an established Napa-staple winery, this is a a unique and wildly theatrical bottling.

Behold: Trefethen Dragon’s Tooth! || Photo by Brian Quinn

I beg of you, good reader, to add Trefethen to your list of wines to drink if you have not and if you are a fan already, lookout for Harmony and Dragon’s Tooth because they are rock stars and will transport you back in time: after one sip, fellas will recall catching that touchdown pass—the one that led to a win at the All-State Football Championship match. And for the gals: it shall remind you of the night you were voted prom queen (and I know you all were voted prom queen). As for the Oakville Chardonnay, an absolute delight for me (as I’m fast becoming a Chardonnay fan), and this pony boasts no malolactic fermentation, but a touch of oak leading to an elegant finish that lingers and evolves on the palate.


Many, many thanks to Loren and the rest of the Trefethen Family for sharing their wine with us at The Noble Rot.

Loren Trefethen talks about his family’s Chardonnay | photo by Laura Huben

Listen to other parts of the interview with Loren here:

Trefethen History-Riesling (5:12)

Trefethen Climate and Soil (3:20)

Trefethen Harmony Chardonnay (4:05)

Trefethen Reds, Mmmmm (5:54)

Far right: MaxZT at the Dulcimer – Thanks to Max!

Earlier in the week we hosted back-to-back blending events at the Brooklyn Winery, leading an array of individuals into the realm of “winemaker for a day.” For these blending sessions we work with the five Noble Varietals crafting “Meritage” blends from the Parlor Room at the winery. Everyone is supplied with beakers and graduated cylinders just like back in science class. The events offer guests an opportunity to really explore their palate in social, relaxed, team-building environment (just like the old days of little league).

Jonny Cigar inspects the blenders… “hard at work.”

And as a treat, we witnessed BK Winery Winemaker Conor McCormack bottling his first vintage of Brooklyn Pinot Noir! Check out the video below!


March 10, 2011 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

James Beard Foundation Greens, SXSWi, Sinatra Simulacra

Jonny Cigar and BK Winery Winemaker Connor McCormack. Photo courtesy of James Beard (himself!).

“Someone said drink the water, but I will drink the wine.” – Lyric by Paul Ryan.

Let’s talk in threes for this wonderfully brief but loaded flog blog schmost post.

1. James Beard Foundation Greens (as in the James Beard Foundation, but green). The Noble Rot played host at the Brooklyn Winery to the James Beard Greenlings. A delightful bunch, schooled in the art of wine blending. Connor McCormack, BK Winery winemaker, joined us, lending a bit of “legitimate” knowledge to whole affair. We were given a tour of the winery and I interrupted a lot to make jokes while Connor did his best to refrain from stuffing me in one of the tanks and suffocating me with a blanket of CO2. Thanks for refraining Connor! My wife thanks you. Thanks you for nothing. She’s furious. The insurance money would have been worth more than I’ll ever bring home. What a great damn time we had. Log into the other Google (Facebook) and see for yourself here.

Jonny blesses the wine (Deacon Cigar). Photo courtesy of James Beard.

2. SXSWi. (South by Southwest interactive). Austin, Texas comes into its own every year as the world turns toward SXSW extravaganzas. So, we too will take our turn. Here’s how it happened: over coffee with Danielle Gould of Food+Tech Connect I had an epiphany. I wrote down the word “IDEA,” on a piece of paper and next to it “(COMM),” and together it looked like this: Idea(COMM). Let’s back up: Danielle asked us to participate in creating a very exciting event for the interactive SXSWi front. Her raison d’etre is to connect food communities with the technology that can help foster and grow those communities. So, we came up with a Farm-to-Table interactive concept, which materialized as Idea(COMM), which stands for “Instant Data Evolves a Community.” Not bad, eh? The idea: invite chefs to create menus and source all the ingredients locally, direct from farmers using apps, and brilliantly designed websites for just that purpose. Curious to know more? Go here.

Cigatra. Photo by Katie Sokoler.

3. Sinatra Simulacra. On Thursday, April 14, in this the year of 2011, an epic evening unravels: a cocktail hour with quaffs stirred up by some of the best mixologists in New York City, a twelve-piece orchestra, brand new arrangements of Sinatra favorites by Daniel Barnidge, who recently arranged music for… Sting, Jonny Cigar crooning, singing, swinging and reflecting on Frank Sinatra. An invite will go out soon, but only 75 seats are available for this one-night spectacular. The venue is Dixon Place.

November 19, 2010 0 comments Articles & Reviews, By Jonathan Cristaldi

The Noble Rot BLENDS at BK Winery

Let the Blending begin… (Photo by Brian Quinn)

The brand new Brooklyn Winery was home to our first-ever “Blending Event.”

Blending wine is part and parcel with winemaking and a critical function of the winemaker. Take for instance a wine that boasts it is a blend of “56% Cabernet Sauvignon, 38% Merlot and 6% Cabernet Franc,”—the final cuvee is the result of blending and sampling different percentages, aimed at achieving balance between acidity and alcohol.

Our blenders did a great job, churning some delightful samples as well as other less-than-delightful samples. For the sake of competition, four teams were pitted against each other and one team took home the blending trophy.

Food provided by Radish (Amy and Laura), photos by Brian Quinn: