Inga Howe-Geniesse

On The Road at The Wölffer Estate Harvest Party

On a crisp October afternoon, I find myself on the Wölffer Estate Vineyard grounds–quietly situated in the heart of the Hamptons in Sagaponack–for their annual Harvest Party. The award-winning, internationally renowned vineyard was founded by Christian Wölffer, a German born entrepreneur whose vision transformed a potato farm into a world-class winery. With Wölffer’s passion and hard work, the 175 acres became home to a 55 acre vineyard, boarding stables with over 30 paddocks, an indoor jumping ring, and a Grand Prix field.

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Since 1992, winemaker Roman Roth has been responsible for the distinctive character of the Wölffer wines, using traditional techniques with an eye towards innovation. Only sustainable farming practices are used in growing the grapes and all the wines are made using estate grown or locally sourced fruit. As a result, the wines Wölffer Estate Vineyard produces are food friendly and elegant, built for longevity.

Wandering the grounds I am in awe before what Christian Wölffer created. From 2005 to 2007 I worked for Wölffer and was inspired in my own life by his determination to realize his dream. I am happy to see how his children, Joey and Marc, along with Roman and General Manager Max Rohn, have carried on Wölffer’s legacy, after his untimely passing in 2008.

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“The Harvest Party is really my favorite day of the year!” new mom Joey Wölffer tells me. “This is the celebration of all of the hard work Roman and his team have done. We are getting ready for the next vintage and celebrating the summer we just had.”

Her brother Marc explains the tradition, “At the beginning it was my father who loved to throw parties and [he] used this day to invite 50 or 60 friends to celebrate.”

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“Now we are almost 2000 people,” Roman adds with a proud smile.

An American folk festival with German roots, the Harvest Party is a family event: activities for the little ones, in house wines for the grown ups, and good food for all. Children are invited to ride ponies, have their faces painted, test themselves in an obstacle course, go for hayrides, or play in the petting zoo. Adults are not left out of the fun either with activities like barrel rolling and grape stomping. Elsewhere on the estate, long tables overlook the fields of grapes, while others are gathered by the pond or tucked under the dappled light of trees. Each seat around them is a throne to enjoy some of the best wines in the country. I almost bump into a woman on stilts, draped in leaves and vines, as I take everything in.

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Later, riding through the grounds in the back of a tractor, I become a bit sentimental. The festival is crowded with laughter and smiles–everybody seems to be happy. Christian Wölffer was a powerful influence; his children and partners have done an incredible job carrying on his work. I raise my glass to a wonderful day, a great summer, and a good vintage to come.

Wölffer Estate Vineyard is located at 139 Sagg Road in Sagaponack, New York. The Winery is open daily from 11am to 8pm. Find more information here.

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