Winemakers claim New York's first commercial rooftop vineyard

(MENAFN- AFP) Millennial US winemakers have established what they call the first commercially viable rooftop vineyard in New York, hoping wine harvested from the Brooklyn Naval Yard will hit the market next year.

The young wine enthusiasts intend to produce 300 bottles a year from 50 specially commissioned urban planters installed on the roof of an industrial building overlooking the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

The first harvest will be picked in the fall in the latest headline grabbing venture at a Naval Yard that has played host to Lady Gaga, fashion shows and the last presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

"The idea was really to re-purpose urban space in a sustainable manner," one of the founders, Devin Shomaker, explained to AFP.

The vines are planted in 36 inches (0.9 meters) of soil, 40 percent of which is crushed, recycled glass that works as a sand element to make what Shomaker calls a "sustainable light-weight soil" similar to a traditional vineyard.

They include grape varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.

Shomaker launched the business with brother Thomas and a friend, Chris Papalia, after studying business and viticulture. They went live after doing a test run in 2013 on the roof of Thomas's apartment to assess the air quality in Brooklyn.

They are financing the project with help from a wine grower in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.

Alongside their vines, their rooftop hosts private events and tastings, kitted out with a large bar, tables and hammocks, and sells three wines produced in the Finger Lakes.

Shomaker said his inspiration was Brooklyn Grange, a successful start-up created in 2010 which produces fresh herbs, vegetables and honey on New York City rooftops.

"New York State is the third largest (wine) producing state in the United States. But a very small percentage of New York City's consumption actually supports New York State wines," he said.

And the future He dreams of expanding his vineyard to other Brooklyn rooftops.


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