Bottoms up! How about a brewery or wine tour for a fun activity in the cooler weather? At these breweries and wineries, you can see how your favorite fermented beverages are made, then do a little sampling. You’ll likely get a little learning too, in particular about the history of beer brewing and winemaking in New York City. By Jessica Allen.
More: N.J.’s 5 Best Wineries
The Brooklyn Brewery offers tours just about every day of the week. The Small Batch Tour ($8) lets you try four beers, discover the story of beer brewing in Brooklyn, chat with an expert, and leave with a souvenir glass (reservations required). On Sundays, you can stop in for the SmorgasBrewery, in which various local vendors sell their wares in the Tasting Room, and you can tour the operation for free at 1 pm, 2 pm, 3 pm, or 4 pm. Be warned: this place is huge. In fact, the Brooklyn Brewery exports more beer than just about any other American craft brewery.
At Brooklyn Winery, in Williamsburg, you can get married, host a party, hang out, eat off of a seasonal menu, including salads, pâté, charcuterie, and cheeses, or simply imbibe in rustic spaces decorated with antiques and wine-making equipment. The free tour of the facilities runs on Saturdays and Sundays, at 1 pm and 2 pm. Right now the vintners are producing chardonnay, riesling, pinot noir, zinfandel, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon, among others, all small batch, all hand-crafted.
Chelsea Brewing Company
As Manhattan’s largest microbrewery, Chelsea Brewing Company bottles around 2,000 bottles an hour in a gigantic facility that’s also home to a massive entertainment complex with a driving range, a spa, sand volleyball courts, and a mind-body studio. But back to the beer: you can try the medium-bodied Sunset Red Ale, the lighter Checker Cab Blonde Ale, or one of 20 others made on site. Call to schedule a tour. When you’re finished, have a drink or bite in the restaurant, with magnificent views of the Hudson River.
Red Hook Winery
On weekends at 1 pm, the Red Hook Winery offers a tour and tasting for $15, with your choice of five wines. Founded by three bigwigs in the wine industry, this small operation located on a pier in New York Harbor carefully sources grapes from around New York State, then mixes and mashes them into several varieties, including riesling, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, merlot, and rose. Badly damaged during Hurricane Sandy, the Red Hook Winery has come back stronger, and tastier, than ever.
You might have heard about City Winery recently. Prince—yes, that Prince—played a semi-secret five-hour set there. It’s a performance space, a restaurant, a wine shop, and a winery. Tours are offered every day of the week, from 2 to 5 pm. The $35 event comes with a tasting flight of three made-in-house wines paired with a cheese plate as well as a parting gift. If you’d like to take the tour even further, you can look into “barrel ownership,” which lets you customize and blend your very own wine right in Tribeca.