The Winemaker of Avenue C

Nov 05, 2015 644

by Steven Kurutz

Matt Baldassano, 35, works in tech and lives in Alphabet City. So when you hear that he makes wine in his apartment, you may want to roll your eyes. Another hipster practicing the dilettante arts? Rooftop Reds, it seems, are the latest product, after pickles and chocolate, to get the artisanal, made-in-New York treatment.

But Mr. Baldassano, who grew up on Staten Island, belongs to an earlier city tradition: that of Italian-Americans making wine in the home. The city's Italian immigrants regularly made their own stuff — dark, strong reds, mostly — in basements or bathtubs. During Prohibition, the practice flourished.

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