“If we were going to do it, we were going to go all out,” Brooklyn Winery founder Brian Leventhal told us when we met up with him for drinks at his acclaimed venue in Williamsburg. And the place is truly impeccable, from the sheer fact that you can make your own wine from specially selected grapes from all over the world-Chile, California, Finger Lakes-to the architecture and decor. The wine making takes at least a year of course, but the whole facility from de-stemming, crushing, fermentation, racking to aging in oak barrels takes place on site. When the wine is ready, you return to bottle and label (with your own custom labels). In the meantime, you can enjoy some of the great food prepared by Brian Pierce.

Leventhal and his partner decided to avoid any kind of venture capital backing, and raised the capital all from family and friends. The idea generated while they were co-workers at ExpoTV (before that Brian was at McKinsey), and the two would look forward to the company trips to a winery out in New Jersey. Why not start one in the city, they thought?

“It’s not work, it’s life,” he says, something that deeply resonates with all entrepreneurs. The trick is being able to still have a life, which Brian has plenty of as the three of us chatted (over wine and off the record) about things far beyond the scope of his business. Day quickly passed into evening as we sat in his favorite room–a nook above the bar you might not notice if you aren’t careful–beneath the meticulously chosen salvaged decor found by WRK Design.

Brian Leventhal, left with Puja Dutt Clarke, merchandise manager for Burberry and Prada (previous)

Every attention to detail was made, from the type of wood for the tabletops, to the wallpaper to the costumes in the treasure chest for the photo booth. Even the vegetation in the courtyard is watered through an eco-friendly system. Everything is a mix of old and new, old New York with the sensibility of this generation.

We went back for dinner a week later and they had an old-timey bluegrass trio performing just at the end of our table. A perfect Brooklyn summer evening.

Brooklyn Winery
213 North 8th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11211