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by james sturz | December 11, 2013 | Food & Drink
Max Rohn and Joey Wölffer are working to turn their Sagaponack winery into a lifestyle brand, starting with cider.
“It’s an action-packed area,” explains Joey Wölffer, as she describes her life in the Hamptons—a CrossFit class, a jog, or a ride on her Dutch Warmblood, Antanov, followed by Golden Pear Cafe coffee at home. “Weekends? I don’t have weekends.”
In fact, life for the Wölffer Estate Vineyard co-owner, Styleliner creative director and founder, fashion consultant, jewelry designer, and devoted equestrienne just got even busier. After purchasing her father’s winery earlier this year with brother Marc Wölffer and celebrating the estate’s 25th anniversary, the new Wölffer team launched two sparkling ciders. It turns out when you don’t stop moving, you can go pretty fast.
One linchpin of that team is Joey’s husband, Max Rohn. They married in 2011, after Joey was “squooshed into him” three years earlier on the LIRR. “He’d never been to the Hamptons—little did he know he’d spend the rest of his life there,” Joey jokes. At the vineyard she focuses on the creative side, and Rohn, Wölffer’s managing director, runs the estate. One of their main goals is transforming the Sagaponack winery into a lifestyle brand, and the cider is a first step. Meant to complement their line of wines, Wölffer No. 139 is made from local, Bridgehampton apples and comes as a dry rosé or white, lightly alcoholic and crisp, with hints of honeysuckle and yeast. Joey helped design the labels—playful illustrated collages evoking an older Hamptons vibe. “I remember growing up, and my parents having these great big dinner parties with Bianca Jagger, Lee Radziwill, Peggy Siegal, and all these crazy socialites at the table,” she says. “It was such a Bohemian time.”
At Wölffer Estate and the couple’s “very Bohemian” rented home in the Noyack woods, the tradition of dinner parties continues, with friends arriving early and staying until the night sometimes turn into dance parties. Marc flies in from Majorca every six weeks to look at the vineyard’s big picture. Says Rohn, affectionately, “He helps keep me out of the weeds.”
This holiday season, Joey will have her Styleliner truck in town for Thanksgiving and a dinner for European “refugee” friends and family, followed by reviving her father’s tradition of biking to Shelter Island the next day for lunch at the Ram’s Head Inn. “We’ll serve the traditional dishes, paired with our Fatalis Fatum cabernet sauvignon blend and Perle chardonnay,” Rohn explains. “But first we’ll warm our guests up with cider.” Wölffer Estate Vineyard, 139 Sagg Road, Sagaponack, 537-5106
photography by Eric striffler