When we envision wine drinkers, we think of fashionable ladies on Hallmark birthday cards sharing a glass on an ornate outdoor patio. When we envision wine makers, we think of men in button-ups checking giant oak barrels in some small Italian village. But we know this isn’t the whole image: men drink wine as much as women, and women make wine as well as men. In order to celebrate the diversity of the wine business, Half Past Wine-O-Clock has started a new series called “Women in Wine” to celebrate the great ladies who create the beverages we love.
And we’re starting off the series with an interview from one of our favorite Northeast winemakers, Alie Shaper from Brooklyn Oenology from Williamsburg.
To say Shaper loves her state would be a drastic understatement. Everything she creates comes from NY: her grapes, her arts, and her inspiration.
It wasn’t a stretch for her to come up with the idea of a Brooklyn winery. Although some may be surprised by the concept of an urban winery, this is exactly what spurred the idea of BOE in Shaper’s mind.
“Brooklyn has always been a place where things are created,” Shaper said. She cites the industrial age of Brooklyn, and the neighborhood’s transition into a modern artistic community. She wanted to pay tribute to the area’s history of production through her NY-based wines. With grapes from the five wine regions of NY (most prominently the Finger Lakes and Long Island) accompanied by the label art from local, unlabeled artists, BOE does exactly this.
Shaper sees it as a “miracle” that she is able to work in wine the way she does. Originally an engineer, Shaper developed her vision for BOE while working in the import/export sector of the wine business. Struck by this inspiration, Shaper was “more excited than scared” to embark on what has now been a 10 year journey of wine production in New York and Brooklyn.
BOE started with just two wines and has now blossomed into three entire lines of wine, including Brooklyn Oenology, Shindig, and AsIf. The BOE wines are the largest collection. Shindig is a small line created with one of Shaper’s wine partners as part of an national collection of wines representing state grapes.
AsIf, on the other hand, is a high-end collection showcasing Shaper’s skills as a winemaker. Named for her initials, “A.S.,” and the open-ended promise of possibility within the simple term “if,” this line is a testament to her abilities and an experimental push of wine-making boundaries.
All these wines can be tasted at the winery, as well as a collection of local NY beers, whiskeys, meats, cheeses, and more. The tasting room is a hub of NYC’s creative culture, showcasing the work of not only BOE but of its sister companies as well.
And BOE has caught global attention from wine enthusiasts during this time. The winery appears in many international NYC guidebooks and has become a hot-spot for tourists and locals alike. The atmosphere of BOE is what Shaper defines as “a winery that feels like a living room.” She aims to transition from a world of wine consisting of up-turned noses and stuffy airs. Instead, she wants to share her wines with a broad range of people in NYC and beyond, whether they’re a sommelier or haven’t tasted a drop of wine before in their lives.
“I just want people to enjoy a glass of wine and be happy,” Shaper says. “That, to me, is what wine is about.”
Make sure to check out BOE’s 10th year anniversary event: