NYC Rooftops May Host Vineyards
MADELEINE BRAND, host:
Back now with DAY TO DAY. So what if your dream is to run a vineyard, but you're stuck in the city? Gretchen Cuda shows us how even the most space-deprived city dwellers can pretend they're in Napa.
GRETCHEN CUDA: Robert Harold runs a one-acre vineyard in central Connecticut. But in Brooklyn, he teaches city dwellers how to grow their own grapes. Here, he's instructing a class at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on how to plant a vine cutting and get it to root.
Mr. ROBERT HAROLD (Vineyard Owner; Instructor, Brooklyn Botanic Garden): What we're going to do is stick it into the soil, try to get two buds into the soil, okay? I'm going to put my finger about there and just keep pushing it down. Voila, it's done.
CUDA: He says the climbing vines aren't nearly the space hogs most people think they are, making grape vines the vine of choice for an urban jungle.
Mr. HAROLD: Climate here in Brooklyn is quite conducive for wines. But in Manhattan, of course, you have a lot of buildings and pavement and what have you, so the temperature will probably be warmer, and it'll be actually better to grow grapes there, provided you have space for the pot.
CUDA: Harold admits that a studio apartment does not a vineyard make. But he says if you want to grow grapes in New York City, take a cue from the tourists and look up.
Mr. HAROLD: Rooftops are an ideal place to put them.
CUDA: But can you really grow enough grapes for wine on your rooftop?
Mr. HAROLD: Very easy. There are a lot of people who grow grapes in pots. A five-gallon pot will easily support a vine. You would need 12 vines, roughly 12 vines, to make five gallons. But if you have space for 12 buckets, you could make five gallons of wine a year.
CUDA: In other words, anyone with a rooftop is a potential vintner.
Mr. HAROLD: That's right, that's right. Absolutely.
Ms. JOYCE JUDD(ph) (Student, Brooklyn Botanical Garden): How wonderful. Let's go.
I have one grape vine, but I was totally unaware of what I wanted to do with it.
CUDA: Students like Joyce Judd are hoping they can finally enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Ms. JUDD: Now I think I have a better idea of how to look at the vine and then how to encourage it to fruit, hopefully, which I think would be a wonderful thing in Brooklyn.
Mr. HAROLD: And your new growth is going to come out each one of these.
Ms. JUDD: And this is where the fruiting can come up, this new...
Mr. HAROLD: That's right, that's correct.
CUDA: Every student gets to take a cutting or two home from Harold's own vines, and with any luck, in a few months, they'll each have the beginnings of their own personal vineyards.
Mr. HAROLD: (unintelligible)
CUDA: For inspiration, Harold opens a couple bottles from his own vineyard for the students to sample.
Unidentified Man: It's good.
Mr. HAROLD: And this is, like I say, it's a (unintelligible)...
Unidentified Woman: Oh, this is good.
Mr. HAROLD: A well-made homemade wine will most likely be superior to an average, low-cost wine that you buy in the store. You could do so many things -make it sweet, make them dry, make them full-bodied, less body - whatever you want.
CUDA: Harold says putting your own personal touch on the final product is a big part of the allure. And having your own private label? How cool is that?
Mr. HAROLD: The whole concept of having your own vineyard, whether it's one vine or a thousand vines, being able to produce grapes that you can make wine out of and put your name on that label is so satisfying. It's just a great, great hobby.
CUDA: For NPR News, I'm Gretchen Cuda.