Real Estate: One woman, many jobs

05/25/2011 11:55 AM |

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The tasting room at One Woman.

She tends acres of vines, makes sure the tasting room is fully stocked, raises chickens, ducks and goats and nurtures tomatoes and eggplants “that I grow in my spare time.”

Last week she hosted and catered the Southold High School prom. She even finds a few hours for a little flower gardening.

It’s kind of hard to believe that one woman is responsible for all of this — until you meet the one woman in question: Claudia Purita, proprietor of One Woman Wines and Vineyards.

After growing up on the family farm in Calabria, Italy, and following that with many years in the restaurant business on Long Island, Ms. Purita is certainly no stranger to hard work. She insists, though, that One Woman Wines started out as a three-acre hobby that just grew.

The first vines were planted in 2004, she said, “and then we just planted more and more.” Now the operation comprises 16 acres.
One Woman Wines and Vineyards lies just off Old North Road in Southold and is accessed via a gravel driveway that leads directly to a tiny red-painted tasting room.

Ms. Purita would be the first to admit that the former toolshed is not the grandest structure on the North Fork. But it works.
Inside, the rough wood walls are home to hanging baskets of dried flowers and the bar consists of a wooden cupboard formerly used to stow tools. The pine floor was once the walls of a potato barn.

Outside, patrons can sit at picnic tables embossed with the One Woman swirl logo and sip Ms. Purita’s wines: merlot, rosé, chardonnay, gewürztraminer and, the pride of the vineyard, a rare (for the North Fork) grüner produced from three acres of Austrian grüner veltliner grapes.

“On summer nights we have tastings under the stars with tapas plates and a live band,” said Ms. Purita’s daughter, Gabriella, who helps out in the tasting room. “We set up telescopes. We have no streetlights for miles out here and people from the city are amazed how clearly they can see the stars.”

One Woman has also started hosting private events, thanks to the availability of a large former potato barn located just to the west of the vines.

“It’s from the late 1920s,” said Ms. Purita, leading the way down a tiki torch-lined pathway that bisects a couple of well-tended flowerbeds, one planted with a spruce tree that shelters clumps of English bluebells and the other decorated with an unidentifiable antique farm machine.

Inside the red-shingled barn, Ms. Purita has removed the loft originally used to store potatoes to showcase the construction and reveal the steep gabled ceiling.

Except for a new set of sliding glass doors — which last week led to a large white tent set up by the high school prom committee to provide extra covered space for last Friday’s bash — the barn is otherwise pretty much in its original state.

The structure offers three distinct spaces for a party. A large entrance hall is flanked by two windowed areas. In the room to the left, the students decorated a dance space to house a DJ and red lighting, said Ms. Purita’s daughter.

A step down to the right leads to an expansive white painted annex, “a later addition,” said Ms. Purita, where dinner tables awaited the students, who had embellished the room with white paper lanterns and mobiles.

Ms. Purita has labored long and experienced some setbacks along the way.

“In 2009, we were one of the places badly hit by hailstones and lost quite a bit of our crop,” she said.

Despite some heartbreak, and the fact that she has only one full-time helper, Ms. Purita is mulling over the idea of leasing extra acreage in the not-too-distant future.

Her next big project is to move the farm stand currently located on the far side of her fields to a more convenient spot close to the tasting room. She thinks she’ll expand the stand’s offerings to include homemade goat cheese.

But first things first. Ms. Purita said she was sorry to end the interview but she had to run.

The reason? Apparently some finishing touches were urgently required before she served that sumptuous feast to 128 hungry high school students.

One Comment

  • I am originally from this area you wklaed through Cutchogue and I love that you were able to experience some of the beauties the North Fork holds. I also have OCD and commend your journey and thank you for creating further awareness!! It’s a misunderstood illness so truly thank you.