Meet the Makers of the Summer’s Hottest Rosé
One hundred miles east of New York City, nestled among the country clubs and seven-figure properties of Sagaponack, N.Y., is a picturesque winery that on the surface would suggest idealistic tranquility.
Wölffer Estate Vineyard, founded in 1988 on a 55-acre former potato farm, was the passion project of Christian Wölffer, a German-born venture capitalist who tragically died in 2008 at age 70 in a swimming accident off the Brazilian coast.
Wölffer’s estate was left to his four children—twins raised in Germany and a pair of sisters who grew up in the Hamptons and New York City. They weren’t close because of age and geographical differences, but the loss of their father brought one sibling from each set together. Marc Wölffer (the German) and his sister Joey Wölffer (the American) bought out their siblings and set up Wölffer to be a family winery that they would split control of.
Since the children took over, Wölffer’s sales have boomed, doubling in size about every two years. Wölffer sold nearly 80,000 cases of wine and hard cider last year, mostly of its Long Island–made wines. Summer in a Bottle, its distinctively labeled rosé launched in 2013, is now Wölffer’s bestselling brand.
“We are making rosé an all-year drink,” says Joey Wölffer. “It is lighter and fresher. And it is fun. It doesn’t feel serious.”
The pink-tinted wine category has posted strong sales of late after finding early popularity in beachfront enclaves like the Hamptons and Miami. Wine-industry experts say rosé’s boom is mostly due to female interest in the beverage, though men are being lured too. According to research firm Nielsen, rosé table wine sales are now valued at more than $207 million annually, growing about 50% from a year ago and outpacing the overall market’s more modest 4% increase.
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That trend is giving Wölffer a boost. It was an early adopter, producing rosé as far back as 1995. When Christian died in 2008, the winery was selling only about 4,000 cases of rosé each year. Now it makes nearly 48,000 cases of the pink drink.
When asked how their father would feel about where they’ve taken the business, the siblings say they believe he guided them to this point. “He set the right course by moving out to the Hamptons,” says Marc. Joey agrees, adding, “I don’t ever think, What would Dad have done? But I do think he would be proud. And in that sense, I’m happy and fulfilled.”
A version of this article appears in the Aug. 1, 2017 issue of Fortune with the headline “A House United by Rosé.”