Like a finely aged wine, has waited to for years and let customers in to enjoy all they have to offer.
On Thursday, owner Tom DeChiaro cut the red ribbon, adorning the front door of the almost 100-year-old historic church in Mohegan Lake, in celebration of the official grand opening of the winery.
"This is not the end of a saga," he said referring to the six years since he had bought the property, a lawsuit, and some stumbling blocks along the way. "This is the beginning of what we're about to create."
DeChiaro said his mission and passion is to "advance environmentally sound organic agriculture while sustaining open land initiatives" and create a wine trail that winds through Northern Westchester and Putnam counties.
"We hope to promote community education and to enhance the cultural and aesthetic attributes of these scenic parts of Westchester County that we call home," he said. "The whole idea is to continue to grow the culture and all of it plays very well into the wine and food experience.
Part of his vision is to encourage people to invest into growing grapes in the area, which will stimulate the economy.
"We're going to be the Napa Valley of the East Coast," he said.
During the grand opening celebration, DeChiaro announced the release of Yorktown's first locally produced wine. The first limited edition wine, the Centennial Blend, was custom blend selected by Tom and his brother John DeChiaro. There will be only 1,200 bottles of it, which will all be numbered.
Some of those who tasted the limited edition wine described it as warm, rich and sensuous.
"The flavor was full and had a lot of character to it," Robert Sansone said. "I know they worked hard to get that blend. That blend is well thought out."
Sansone said he thinks the Winery's owners get and execute everything right, adding that the decor and ambiance of the place and what decided to leave of the Old Stone Church was "perfect." He described their wines as exotic as the building itself.
This is how the Winery describes their custom made wine: "With a vibrant bouquet of lush plum and pomegranate, your senses are aroused with bursts of seductive blackberry, cherry and nutmeg. Persistent flavors of dark chocolate and plum linger on your palate with a textured earthy finish. Pairs well with hearty meats and decadent chocolate desserts."
"We want to revitalize Yorktown and I couldn't be more honored to have [this place] as my first ribbon cutting," Yorktown supervisor Michael Grace said during the celebration. "It lifts your spirits in every which way and I want the town to enjoy Tom's great job.".
The Winery has been regularly hosting Wednesday night live music events, which have become so popular that they now have to take reservations well in advance, DeChiaro said. They also offer wine tasting classes and have much more planned for the future.
DeChiaro announced an art exhibit will open in the fall and for the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Old Stone Church, there will be a gala with music from every decade of the century. More wines by the glass, new tapas menu options, wine pairing dinners and locally grown grapes (specifically for producing wines) are some of DeChiaro's other plans.
A play, called "What's Eating You," is set to open simultaneously in an off-Broadway theatre in Manhattan, as well as at the Winery. The play, produced by Bedford's Laurie Lewis and written by Jill Brooke, is about food and relationships. It explores what happens when a couple's child is born with severe food allergies and "find themselves at odds with each other and the world."
"We wanted to do it at a place where people can interact with food and wine, while they're experiencing the actors on stage, which helps enrich the experience," Lewis said.
The Winery is in the middle of site expansion plans to increase parking on the site from 39 to about 60 spaces as well as swapping a town owned wetlands area for a parcel along Route 6.
History of the Old Stone Church:
Aimee La Farge-Heins commissioned the construction of the St. George Chapel in memory of her husband George Leis Heins and her brother John La Farge. It was designed in French Norman Style architecture and completed in May 1912. Shortly thereafter, she donated it to the Archdiocese of New York.
In 1963, the chapel was renamed Blessed Elizabeth Ann Seton in honor of the first American beautified by the Vatican. In 1975, Elizabeth Ann Seton was canonized and the chapel was renamed Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. As the congregation grew, the parish moved to its present location in Shrub Oak.
The Archdiocese of New York sold the church in 1984 to Mr and Mrs. Jack Nathan of New York City. The building sat idle for 20 years before it was purchased by Michael Palmietto in 2000, who planned to open a restaurant at the location.
Tom DeChiaro purchased the building from Palmietto in August 2005 to open an upscale winery. Pamietto passed away in January, 2009.
For more information on upcoming events at The Winery, check out their website.
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