Written by Cory Twibell Friday, 05 October 2012 00:00
The winery opened its doors at 156 Engineers Drive three years ago when co-owners Vincenzo Saulle and Gianni Fabrizi envisioned bringing several generations worth of family tradition to the contemporary corporate world.
“Gianni and I, this is the kind of thing that we would do as kids. Our fathers and grandfathers got us involved in the winemaking process. As the world is getting busier, especially in these parts, these traditions are dying out. We find a lot of people are doing home winemaking kits and the quality is poor, so we kind of wanted to bring this tradition back to the market place,” said Saulle.
The building’s industrial façade is far removed from the vast green acreage of Suffolk County’s renowned vineyards, but once inside, the sounds of jazz and aroma of uncorked spirits dismiss any notion that good wine can’t be made – and enjoyed – close to home.
In the early evening hours on Sept. 13, patrons poured in to the Wine U Design winery to complete the final phase (bottling) of the personalized winemaking process, one that began nearly one year ago with the grape selection and a hands-on crash course in crushing.
“They come into our place, ask us about different varietals and what we think might work for them or their group and we order them grapes based on what their taste profile is. Then they come in and it’s time to get dirty,” Saulle explained.
One week after crushing, winemakers came back to press the “must” (the grapes’ new state following crushing and fermenting) in order to squeeze and funnel the liquid into barrels, where the aging process begins. Throughout the next several months, the wine matures and stabilizes during the “rack” phase, during which the barrels are eventually emptied, cleaned and then refilled.
“There is nobody else doing it on Long Island. What we provide is a place where state of the art equipment and the best grapes we can get our hands on are waiting for the customer that wants to make high quality wine,” said Saulle.
The wine is also tested throughout the phases – and before the final phase, where bottles are filled, corked and sealed, winemakers are provided the materials to design their labels.
Patrons can take home to up 240 bottles of their own vintage or as little as one case. Specialty barrels are also available, as is the Wine U Design venue for everything from birthday to engagement parties.
“They learn about what they’re doing; they learn about fermentation and they learn about the process. At the end, it’s a yearlong term after aging and all that. When they do give that bottle to somebody, there’s a sense of pride and a smile on their face because they can actually say, ‘I made this,’” Saulle said.