I lived in Chicago for 13 years at the beginning of the new millennium, and every once in a while I’d read about a rooftop garden being planted on one of the city’s many skyscrapers.
In some cases they were flower gardens. In other cases, herbs were being grown to season the dishes of chefs preparing meals for diners in restaurants 50 floors below.
Before long, rooftop gardens morphed from an anomaly to a trend. They were sprouting up all over the city… pun intended.
Now, in an even bigger American city, wine grapes are being grown on a 14,800-square-foot rooftop at the Brooklyn Navy Ship Yard in New York.
Working with experts from the Finger Lakes wine region, 42-state-of-the-art
“urban planter systems” were developed to, essentially, mimic a grapevine’s root system.
Described as “the world’s first commercially viable urban rooftop vineyard,” Rooftop Reds was founded in the spring of 2015, bringing viticulture to what is now known as the urban agriculture industry.
I like to think of the urban agriculture industry as the merging of the farm-to-table movement and the return of people — mostly young professionals — from the suburbs to the cities. We’re generally eating healthier and fresher, with sustainability top of mind.
Over decades of experimentation, grape growers and winemakers in the Finger Lakes region have identified grape varieties that fare well in the sometimes-harsh weather, and several of those varieties are being used by Rooftop Reds. Visitors can sample those wines, along with a limited number of bottlings from Finger Lakes producers.
Rooftop Reds also can be found at a number of New York wine shops and restaurants.
Tours and tastings are offered every Wednesday through Oct. 30, and a Saturday brunch is being featured weekly through Sept. 28.
Many other events are being planned all the time, and you can check out the Rooftop Reds event schedule here.
Because space is limited, tickets are highly recommended for all events. The next time you’re planning a trip to New York, make time for a visit to Rooftop Reds for a wine experience above the rest.