BROOKLYN NAVY YARD (WABC) --Two Brooklyn millennials have created one of the most unique places to grab a drink this summer in New York City. Rooftop Reds, the first commercially-viable rooftop vineyard in the city, has added a wine bar at its restaurant in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
"What we've developed up here...is really this urban oasis, this urban wine experience," managing partner Devin Shomaker said.
The wine bar opened a few weeks ago, selling wines from the Finger Lakes region. The building is a remodeled structure that was once used for airflow for the building. More than 3,500 square feet of synthetic turf, which surrounds the vineyard, is set off by rows of hammocks overlooking the Brooklyn and Manhattan skylines, as well as beer garden tables and awnings, great for groups to gather and share a bottle.
The focal point of the nearly-15,000 square foot space is, of course, the vineyard. The rooftop of building 275 is lined by 42 state-of-the-art planter boxes.
"These actually mimic an 8-foot panel in a vineyard," winemaker Chris Papalia said. "Just imagine going to a vineyard, picking out one panel of grape vines...and cutting it right out of the ground, lifting it up, and we've, you know, placed it right on a rooftop."
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The planter boxes are nurturing more than 160 grape vines, all of them Bordeaux red varietals, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdeaux and Malbec.
"To create, what we like to say, Brooklyn's Bordeaux," Shomaker said.
Shomaker first had the idea for the rooftop vineyard while studying at Finger Lakes Community College, in the school's viticulture and wine technology program. It's also where he met Papalia.
Shomaker created the pilot project with 50 vines on the rooftop of his brother's apartment building in Windsor Terrace. He then went on to raise money on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter, and that's what set him on the path to opening Rooftop Reds.
Shomaker and Papalia expect to make the first harvest this fall, and those grapes will be used to create New York City's first urban vintage, set to be released next year.
Rooftops Reds is less than a 10-minute walk from the York Street stop on the F subway train.
For more information, check out their website: RooftopReds.com.