Christian Wolffer, a German businessman, bought a South Fork potato farm in Sagaponack, NY in 1987 as a weekend getaway but a few years later he was growing grapes. He courted Roman Roth, a winemaker from Baden and not long after that, Wolffer Estates established itself as one of the best and most beautiful wineries in the state, with a Tuscan style tasting room and Bordeaux inspired grapes.
Roth now oversees 55 acres that produce about 15,000 cases a year! The rich wines are made using old world and sustainable practices in the tradition of the best European vineyards. But the Hamptons earth, just a few miles from the Atlantic, brings about a distinctly local character in the grapes.
The vines are thinned out annually just as the fruit is beginning to ripen, which allows for a stronger vine and a fuller fruit at harvest. These unripe grapes do not go to waste – they are pressed and cold-filtered into a delicious, versatile green juice called…‘verjus.’ This is an amazingly special and versatile ingredient which you can even drink as a substitute for champagne or with seltzer (as Roth’s daughter likes it!).
Wolffer is still going strong despite the death of Christian in 2008. Roth is now experimenting with something stronger as well, and has – intentionally, not by accident - put out his first, exceptional aged rose vinegar.
We love both, and will think of Christian on summer Friday evenings at Wolffer, where we love stopping by for a glass of wine, cheese plate and free music. Until then, we’ll just stock up on some verjus!