From The Grape To The Glass

Hicksville isn’t exactly a destination for people looking for a winery; but wineUdesign is shaking that notion up. Recently named Nassau County’s first official winery, wineUdesign is inviting Long Islanders to become sommeliers, one custom glass of wine at a time.
WineUdesign, located at 156 Engineers Dr., allows patrons a hands-on opportunity to make their own wine. Patrons can be involved with the process from start to finish—including picking out which type of grapes they want, crushing them, pressing them, bottling and labeling.

The process is more than just being able to go home with hundreds of bottles of wine; it’s a form of “fermentertainment,” said co-owner Vincenzo Saulle.

WineDesign_041515A
wineUdesign owners Gianni Fabrizi and Vincenzo Saulle

“This is about making wine with family and friends, and enjoy it together,” Saulle said. “It’s about the experience.”

That was the motivation for Donald Boyle, who came to a recent open house at the winery with his family. They often travel to the North Fork for wine tastings, and now the West Islip resident was ready to make his own.

“We’re excited to be together and do this together. We all like to drink the wine,” Boyle said. “It’s a family thing.”

And then there are the more steadfast customers. Gary Herbst from Plainview has been coming to wineUdesign since they first opened, and has made hundreds of bottles in his quest for the perfect Cabernet.

“We’ve been experimenting each year with trying to make the ultimate Cabernet,” he said. “I have two barrels at any given time.”

Such a hobby can become expensive—one barrel costs $3,450. Wine-makers can also split a barrel and do a case, which yields 12 bottles and costs $275. But Herbst says it’s well worth it.

Vincenzo Saulle and Plainview's Gary Herbst
Vincenzo Saulle and Plainview’s Gary Herbst

“If you like wine and are looking to make the best cabernet you can, it’s worth it,” he said. “It’s always nice and you can give bottles out to a lot of people. And there’s nothing better than opening up a nice healthy Cabernet on a Friday night.”

When it comes to wine, the saying “good things are worth the wait” rings true. Making your own brand of wine is quite the commitment. The process takes 11 months from start to finish, and you have to order the type of grapes you want in advance.

During this season, wineUdesign gets the majority of their grapes from Chile, and their first shipment comes in the first week of May. Staring mid-May, customers will begin the first step of the process, which is crushing grapes and pushing them through a de-stemmer machine.

A week later, they return to push the now fermented mix through the press, a large wooden cylinder with a bladder that expands and pushes the grapes against the sides, squeezing the fermented juice away from the skin and seeds. The liquid is then left to age in a barrel for five months. After that time, patrons can come back for a taste test. Finally, after 11 months of anticipation, patrons can come back and filter their wine and fill, cork and seal their bottles. The wait is worth it, as patrons can take away one barrel, which yields 240 bottles, or split a community barrel and take home a case or more, of their own handmade personally crafted vino.

WineUdesign has open houses through the rest of April after that, patrons won’t be able to start the process until the season starts again in September. To find out more visit www.wineUdesign.com or call 516-939-9463.

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Betsy Abraham
Betsy Abraham is senior managing editor at Anton Media Group and editor of The Westbury Times and Massapequa Observer. She also writes for Long Island Weekly.

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