© Thomas Shomaker
Mike Pomranz
June 22, 2017

When it comes to terroir, no French grape grower would suggest that shingles might improve your Bordeaux blend. But a group of enterprising young winemakers in New York City have decided to try taking the idea of a vineyard to new heights – literally – by growing and harvesting wine grapes on a Brooklyn rooftop.

Rooftop Reds, billed as the world’s first commercial rooftop vineyard, opened this past April with 42 long planters, each with four grape vines, lining parts of a 14,800 square foot rooftop in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Though no grapes have been harvested yet, the winemakers are hoping to pick fruit for their first vintage this October and release 30 cases of a Bordeaux-style red blend featuring all five of the regions traditional varietals next fall, with bottles being sold exclusively in their rooftop tasting room.

The guys behind this project aren’t completely out of their minds. Founder Devin Shomaker and partner Chris Papalia met at the viticulture and wine technology program at Finger Lakes Community College. And before opening their current facility, they tested out grape growing on a relative’s roof nearby, and then got the ball rolling with a successful Kickstarter.

Even if the experiment doesn’t quite take, all isn’t necessarily lost for Rooftop Reds. Their massive rooftop holds more than just potted vines. It’s also home to couches and a picnic area, a cornhole set and ladder toss. It’s a full on hangout spot. And beyond their own wines, they also serve wines grown in the Finger Lakes and other places that aren’t a Brooklyn rooftop. “It has to be a space where people want to go to, an urban oasis all focused around wine,” Shomaker told the Observer.

Plus, they have hammocks. It’s hard to even care about the terroir of your wine when you’re drinking in a hammock.

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