Winemakers

  1. Alex Clark Pens a Love Letter to Rye at Fort Hamilton Whiskey in Brooklyn

    Alex Clark Pens a Love Letter to Rye at Fort Hamilton Whiskey in Brooklyn

    1985 might not seem like much of a year as years go--‘Take on Me,’ by a-ha, was on the charts for 27 weeks; you might have played the cassette in your IROC-Z Camaro or your Prelude. That said, it’s a critical time in the evolution of the spirits trade in the United States. The story goes like this: two guys named Elmer and Dale walk into a bar and forever changed the way we drink in this country.

    Elmer, as in Elmer T. Lee, was in a bind. As an executive with Buffalo Trace, he had been tasked with enlivening an industry that had never fully recovered from Prohibition. Whiskey was what old men in raincoats drank; vodka was fresh and fun and easy, particularly when it danced with fruit juice. Lee wagered everything on the bet that the American drinking public was ready to fall in love with whiskey again. He was right, and his hunch filled a younger generation with dreams of craft whiskey and small barrels, spirits that were artisanal and unique.

    Meanwhile in New York a restaurateur named Joe Baum was in a bind of his own. He was reopening the celebrated Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center. His goal was to invigorate the cocktail program, at a time when America’s drinking tastes ran to Bobby Tonics and Cosmos. To that end he promoted young Dale DeGroff to run the bar. According to the lore, Mr. Baum handed DeGroff a copy of ‘How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon Vivant’s Companion,’ the seminal Jerry Thomas recipe book of American cocktails from the late 19th century. All of the beautiful concoctions that had vanished or gone underground during Prohibition were in the pages of that book, crying out to come alive again. The project was a revelation. Cocktail culture was reborn and New York City was the epicenter.

    As young city bartenders took DeGroff’s lead and ran with it, a measure of dissatisfaction sank in as they searched for hard-to-find or even extinct ingredients for particular cocktails. In America, in particular, a dramatic consolidation in the whiskey business occurred as producers recovered from Prohibition. New York, for instance, once home to a thousand small distilleries, had none in the late 20th century. Refusing to be stymied by conditions as they found them, a few of these disaffected bartenders struck out on their own to make spirits they had read about but never tasted.

    Fast forward to 2007, when the state of New York introduced the Farm Distillery Act. For those entrepreneurs willing to use New York produce in their operations, the cost of a license dropped from tens of thousands of dollars down to just below a thousand. As other states adopted similar incentives, the craft distilling movement began to spread across the country. New York alone saw the number of legally operating stills increase from a handful to a few dozen to over a hundred in less than ten years. And as these fledgling operations found their footing, distillers began to revive lost styles, the forgotten spirits that made the drinks in forgotten books really sing.

    Meet Alex Clark, owner of Fort Hamilton Whiskey in Industry City, Brooklyn. A cocktailian bartender with Big City Restaurant chops and a South London accent, he stepped out from behind the stick a few years back to pen a love letter to 19th century New York rye whiskey. Personifying the trends set in motion back in 1985 (and 2007), he’s currently producing 24,000 bottles a year, everything from a very affordable high rye double barrel Bourbon to his house signature, a single barrel no-corn New York rye that’s voluptuous and full of flavor, equally at home in a cocktail or over ice at the end of the n...

  2. Librandi: A flickering light in a dark past of Calabrian wine, with hopes of keeping on the lights

    Librandi: A flickering light in a dark past of Calabrian wine, with hopes of keeping on the lights

    Even though Calabria is one of the oldest wine regions in the world, it has had an obscured past unbeknown...

  3. Dorothy J and John

    Gundlach Bundschu Gewürztraminer in Two Bottles: Decanting Drama

    "We had had other wines from GunBun, as people call it, but had not recently had its Gewürz until pioneering winemaker David Ramey of Ramey Wine Cellars wrote a couple of years ago that if we loved the Navarro, we had to try the GunBun. "

  4. Heterogeneous

    Heterogeneous Kremstal with Martin Nigl Jr.

    The cru of Burgundy and the communes of Carolo with their varying soil types and microclimates have been studied endlessly. This conversation with Martin NIgl Jr. shows us that Kremstal is not so different, and deserves the exploration of a keen eye and a discerning palate.
  5. The Native Grapes of Umbria: Luca Baccarelli of Roccafiore

    The Native Grapes of Umbria: Luca Baccarelli of Roccafiore

    "...we can offer a kind of new proposal of wines, offering new varieties because the indigenous varieties from Umbria are almost unknown in the shadow of the big Tuscany wines or maybe other wines from Italy. So for many reasons Umbria is really interesting." Luca Baccarelli
  6. A New Approach to Skin Contact in Friuli: Alessandro Job of Villa Job

    A New Approach to Skin Contact in Friuli: Alessandro Job of Villa Job

    "Objective is the wine that all the people would like to drink. Subjective is a more personal wine, a personal trip. So it's a more intimate way to produce and to speak with the people." Alessandro Job
  7. Kalyna Monnoyer of Casa Raia on authentic Brunello

    Kalyna Monnoyer of Casa Raia on authentic Brunello

    Monty Waldin talks to Kalyna Monnoyer of Casa Raia about making organic, low intervention Brunello di Montalcino.
  8. Take a Virtual Reality Tour of Winemaker Aurore Dezat's Sancerre Winery

    Take a Virtual Reality Tour of Winemaker Aurore Dezat's Sancerre Winery

    "In Sancerre the date, the time we pick your grapes is of great importance to get a wine of quality that will be easy to make later." Take a 360 tour with Sancerre winemaker Aurore Dezat.
  9. The Native Grapes of Abruzzo: Camillo Zulli of Cantina Orsogna

    The Native Grapes of Abruzzo: Camillo Zulli of Cantina Orsogna

    "With biodynamic you have a closed cycle. We work with five or six cow farms who are dedicated and provide compost specific for our biodynamic growers." Camillo Zulli, Cantina Orsogna
  10. Italy's Hidden Gem: Rocco Vallorani of Vigneti Vallorani on Southern Marche

    Italy's Hidden Gem: Rocco Vallorani of Vigneti Vallorani on Southern Marche

    Grape Collective talks with Rocco Vallorani, one of southern Marche’s star winemakers, about the evolution of his region.
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