Crush Time in the City

Forget the vineyard vistas -- this new wine country is right down the street.

ByABC News
February 19, 2009, 12:13 AM

Dec. 28, 2007 — -- Amid the drilling and hammering of ongoing construction, the new urban home of Bridge Vineyards emerges from the dust a wine-tasting bar on one side, redbrick walls, the proverbial barrels.

Within the next few weeks, this New York winery moves its tasting room and sales and eventually its winemaking from the pastoral lanes of Long Island's North Fork to an edgily chic stretch of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where old machine shops and graffiti meld with a Pilates studio and a smattering of storefront galleries.

There's not a rolling hill or trellised vine in sight.

That its new location is 85 miles from the 20-acre vineyard that provides the grapes for its "handcrafted" merlots, chardonnays and cabernet sauvignons matters little, says co-owner Greg Sandor.

"To truck grapes into Brooklyn is nothing," he says. "I could be picking grapes at 5 a.m. and have them into Brooklyn at 8 p.m. that night. And we could crush all night if we needed to."

What's more important is that Bridge's new urban home, tucked into the ground floor and cellar of a luxury condo building, is within subway or elevator reach of customers.

With the move, Sandor and co-owner Paul Wegimont become part of a fledgling but growing urban winery experiment, a trend that first took hold around San Francisco's East Bay. It has since edged its way into other parts of California including Sacramento, Santa Barbara and San Diego and to such cities as Seattle, Portland, Ore., Denver, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Raleigh, N.C.

"In some ways it's an outgrowth on a commercial scale of winemaking that goes back to Prohibition days, when a lot of people made wine in cities with purchased fruit," says Paul Lukacs, author of "American Vintage: The Rise of American Wine" and "The Great Wines of America." "It also reflects the increased American interest in wine."