10/04/11 9:00am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Servpro workers cleaning mold in a Riverhead house.

Just as the North Fork finishes cleaning up and heaving a sigh of relief that Tropical Storm Irene wasn’t as bad as it had threatened to be, many will confront one of the serious consequences of that storm — mold.

Mold is nothing new in our part of the world. Everyone has it to a greater or lesser extent but, left untreated, mold can cause serious health issues.

According to the state Office of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, New Yorkers who sustained any level of water damage should be vigilant in discarding or treating mildewed and moldy items.

But what if mold appears not only on a few disposable household items? Mold spores can be found everywhere, including walls.

“It can happen very quickly,” said certified mold inspector and industrial hygienist Brad Slack, owner of Moldpro, a company that evaluates mold contamination throughout Suffolk County. “If you have a leak, you need to fix it right away or you could be encouraging mold. It only takes 24 to 48 hours for those spores to start growing.”

Mr. Slack explained that mold grows solely by virtue of moisture.

“Mold spores are everywhere,” he said. “They just need water and something to feed on — like, for example building materials.”

He suggests keeping gutters clean and directing water away from a home’s foundation.

“Central air conditioning can be very helpful in summer,” he added.

Mr. Slack added that he’s been extremely busy since Irene swept through our area — “not to mention the big storm before Irene. Together they created a lot of work for us,” he said.

John Paciullo, president of Insight Environmental, a Patchogue-based company serving the East End, agrees.

“We’ve definitely had an uptick in calls,” he said. “The recent elevated water table has caused a lot of water intrusion into basements. You’ll get a generally musty smell and you’ll see discoloration of surfaces.”

Mr. Paciullo advises that any area greater than 10 square feet should be evaluated and treated by professionals. A homeowner may be able to tackle smaller areas, but he cautions that traditional remedies like bleach are not really very effective.

“Use detergent and water,” he said.

And there’s really no time to lose once mold appears. According to Mr. Paciullo, most insurance policies don’t cover mold resulting from continuous seepage and so treatment can become very expensive for a chronic condition.

Both Moldpro and Insight Environmental are engaged strictly in the business of evaluation. They’ll prepare a report detailing the extent of the mold infestation with recommendations for remediation. The homeowner must then contact a company to take the next step. One such firm is Calverton-based Servpro of the North Fork.

Owner Rich Fevola says that once mold is visible the spore count is already in the millions. That means it’s all but certain that professional services are required.

“If you pass your hand over mold spores, you’re spreading it further,” he said. “Mold has to be contained in much the same way as a biohazard.”

Once the industrial hygienist’s evaluation is complete, companies like Servpro will receive a protocol for cleanup.

“What that means is that we contain the affected area and then workers will come in with protective clothing and equipment,” said Mr. Fevola. “We use a Hepavac machine that ensures the treated area will be 99.9 percent clean.

We then clean the surfaces again and apply an anti-microbial sealer that will help to prevent regrowth. Once we’re done with that process, the industrial hygienist will come in and retest the area.”

Mr. Fevola advises anyone with a serious mold issue to shop around, get references and, in particular, be very wary of any company claiming it can both test and treat mold infestations.

“That’s a definite conflict of interest,” he said.

Mr. Slack concurs, adding that because there’s no state licensing for either mold inspection or mold mitigation companies, “it’s a case of buyer beware.”

09/28/11 7:00am

COURTESY PHOTO

The economy may be dodgy, but people are still out there buying houses. And on the North Fork, not all buyers are looking for fire sale bargains.

In fact, sales of high-end property — mostly waterfront — are surprisingly healthy, according to local realtors.

“Actually both the high end and the low end are doing well,” said Sheri Winter Clarry, senior vice president with Corcoran Real Estate. “And even the middle range properties will sell if they’re priced properly.”

It may seem counterintuitive that buyers are willing to spend more than a million dollars on a house in the midst of so much fiscal uncertainty, but it makes sense for a number of reasons, said Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Tom Uhlinger.

“Buyers see good value in the high-end waterfront properties that are available on the North Fork,” he said. “Prices have probably bottomed out. Add to that record low mortgage rates and the buyers come out.”

Marie Beninati of Beninati Associates in Southold agrees that there’s tremendous value on the North Fork compared to the South Fork — and prices here are very good.

“You can be on the water for a lot less money,” she said.

What kind of buyers are looking for high-end property on the North Fork? According to Ms. Clarry, the same people who have always bought on the North Fork form the core.

“There’s less pomp out here, there’s good food and wine and we’re family-friendly,” she said. “Some people migrate from the South Fork because they’re completely over the Hamptons. I’ve also seen an increasing number of Europeans interested in buying on the North Fork. We have such a good, warm and fuzzy feeling out here.”

Back in March, Mr. Uhlinger sold a four-bedroom Cutchogue contemporary for $1.75 million, and in June a four-bedroom waterfront Cape in Jamesport closed for $1.7 million.

Ms. Clarry has negotiated the sale of some spectacular waterfront homes within the last year, including a $2.4 million Cutchogue home and a $2.04 million property in Peconic.

Feeling extra-flush? Ms. Beninati can guide you to a Mediterranean castle on three acres in Mattituck, currently listed at almost $10 million.

Mr. Uhlinger cautions that he did see a bit of a sales slowdown over the summer in the high-end North Fork market.

“People want to be in for the summer,” he said. “It will definitely pick up again in the fall and then slow down again in late November.”

Ms. Beninati has also seen a slight retreat, which she attributes to the atrocious weather. Nevertheless, she maintains that waterfront property “is always going to be saleable. Right now it’s pretty good and we have a number of deals going in spite of the uncertainty. It does make buyers uneasy when the stock market fluctuates as it has been doing. They really want to do it and they say, ‘Should I or shouldn’t I?’ ”

Overall, though, Ms. Beninati believes the stock market’s volatility is ultimately good for real estate.

“You get a steady appreciation that you won’t get at the bank,” she said. “You’re making a modest amount of equity these days, but at the same time you get to enjoy your investment.”

Ms. Clarry agrees. “I think people would far rather have money in a house than in the stock market right now,” she said.

Town & Country’s Nicholas Planamento wants to offer a word of advice to sellers of high-end properties that will have buyers buzzing. And he knows whereof he speaks, as he was recently involved in the sale of a Victorian on First Street in Greenport for $1.315 million, a very high price for non-waterfront property.

“We’re having an extremely strong year,” he said. “With the higher priced properties, it’s either a beauty contest or a price war. This was a beauty contest. This seller took the time and trouble to get all the details right and the property sold within 30 days.”

He says the buyer looked at other Victorians but was unable to resist the seller’s meticulous restoration.

“There are other houses out there, but a lot of times people have cut corners,” he said. “The buyers are definitely out there. Just make sure you’ve taken care of all of the bells and whistles.”

08/10/11 1:19pm

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Jim Yagle in front of the Cutchogue house that he never thought he'd live in again.

Many people remember with fondness their childhood home and might even confess to a touch of curiosity about what it might look like now. But what if you had the opportunity to buy back that treasured memory?

When Janet Yagle discovered the Cutchogue house where she grew up was on the market back in November 2010, it was very definitely an “aha!” moment.

“A friend alerted me to it,” she said. “My parents were living in a house in Southold that was no longer the best size for their needs and I immediately thought how great it would be to buy it for them. So I reached out to Jerry Cibulski at Century 21 in Southold. I went to high school with him and knew he was in real estate. I asked him to take a look at it.”

Mr. Cibulski, who acted as buyer’s agent on behalf of Ms. Yagle, confesses the whole idea of a child buying her parents a house instead of the other way around was intriguing to him. But he adds that the concept is clearly not as unusual as he first thought as he now has a second client looking to purchase a home in Peconic for parents.

“What was truly unique about this situation, though, was that this particular child was buying her childhood home for her parents. What are the odds on that?” he asked.

The quarter-century journey from Cutchogue and back started with Ms. Yagle’s father, James, deciding to go to law school in Queens. That prompted the sale of the Cutchogue house back in 1984. After graduating from St. John’s University, Mr. Yagle and his wife moved to Florida for a while, then returned to the North Fork and spent some time living in Riverhead. Eventually, they purchased a house in Southold.

And there they might have remained but for their daughter’s determination and the expert assistance of Mr. Cibulski.

“I just had to have it,” said Ms. Yagle. “I live in the city and I love coming out to the North Fork to stay and see friends. I’ve been coming out to Southold for years. But the Cutchogue house is the one that held the fondest memories for my family. I was really excited at the prospect of getting it back.”

Ms. Yagle’s persistence paid off. The deal closed at the end of May and the Yagles moved in on July 21. “We did some work on making the bathroom handicapped-accessible for my mother and I helped out with a bit of painting and decorating,” said Ms. Yagle. “My parents are still unpacking but they’re very happy to be home.”

“Delighted” is the word Mr. Yagle uses.

“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “I should never have left in the first place. I told my daughter if I won the lottery, I would buy this house back and one month later she called and said ‘Dad, I’m buying you the house.’”

The senior Yagles have the first floor and the upstairs with its four bedrooms makes a spacious summer retreat for Ms. Yagle.

So what was it like to walk inside her childhood home after 25 years?

“Surprisingly, not that much had changed,” she said. “All the rooms were basically the same. It felt a little smaller — but then I was a child when I lived here.”

Outside the garden also looked much the same, apart from a pine tree planted by the last owners that has interfered with Ms. Yagle’s memory a little.

“But I could also still see the outline of the fence around the corral where I kept my horse,” she said

Ms. Yagle was thrilled that the previous owners had an organic garden as her father also loves organic gardening.

“The Southold house has a great backyard, but the Cutchogue house has a larger plot of land,” she added. “This is great for my dad. He’s really going to enjoy it.” Perhaps the most unanticipated part of the whole deal was the reunion with the Yagle family pool table, left with the new owners back in 1984 and, as it turned out, still in the basement.

“It doesn’t look as if it was used very much.”

But that may change.

08/03/11 4:11am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Laurie Nigro holds 'Fancy Nancy', a Salmon Faverolle. The dog house (at left) was converted into a chickens' laying house.

It’s all but impossible to estimate just how many Americans are raising chickens in their backyards these days as the Department of Agriculture does not track hobbyists but, according to a 2009 New York Times report, hatcheries have been experiencing an unprecedented backlog of orders ever since the downturn in the economy.

Assuming you can fill an order for your birds, you’ll need somewhere to house them. The good news is that anyone contemplating a little backyard chicken farming will be spoiled for choice when it comes to henhouse design.

Googling “chicken coop” will bring up a dizzying number of companies offering laying and sleeping quarters for your cluckers. You can even purchase an ecologically sustainable (and Martha Stewart-approved) green chicken coop at greenchickencoop.com.

But buying a ready-made coop can be extremely expensive. If you’re a good amateur carpenter, you might want to try your hand at constructing your own. There are umpteen websites (just two examples are mypetchicken.com and thegardencoop.com) devoted to henhouse plans that will look good as well as ensure you build a coop that’s appropriate for the number of chickens you plan to raise.

Some chicken farmers, though, prefer to go it alone when it comes to design and a couple of North Fork backyard chicken farmers have used lots of imagination.

Mark Bridgen of Southold has kept chickens for about 20 years. When he built a new henhouse this year, he decided to give it an eco-friendly roof.

The idea of planting the henhouse roof with flowers came rather naturally to Mr. Bridgen, a horticulturist with Cornell Cooperative Extension.

“I noticed that green roofs are becoming rather popular in general and we also wanted to at least have some flowers that the deer couldn’t get at,” he said.

The Bridgen henhouse is in a shady spot that lends itself to a mixture of hosta, astilbe, sweet potato vine and other shade-loving perennials. Splashes of bright color were added in the form of impatiens and begonias. The henhouse roof is 16 feet square and covered in lightweight peat moss to a depth of three inches.

“It was built to be very sturdy,” said Mr. Bridgen. “We used two-by-fours.”

The coop now houses seven happy hens including three of the very popular blue egg-producing Araucana breed.

For another chicken farmer on the North Fork, repurposing was the way to go.

Laurie Nigro of Riverhead started keeping chickens three or four years ago.

“We began with six,” she said. “We’ve eaten some of them and replaced them.”

Ms. Nigro now has nine birds, including several of the Plymouth Rock variety, a Leghorn, a Speckled Sussex and a mystery bird that she believes is an Araucana mixed possibly with a Rhode Island Red.

“She lays greenish eggs rather than the Araucana blue eggs,” she said.

Ms. Nigro houses her nine birds in a 20-by-15-foot enclosure critter-proofed with wire and deer fencing. Inside the pen the chickens have the luxury of separate laying and sleeping quarters.

Ms. Nigro repurposed an old doghouse in which she says for the most part the hens prefer to lay their eggs.

“It’s lined with pine shavings,” she said. “We do occasionally find eggs next to the doghouse though.”

For sleeping, the birds enjoy the luxury of a Victorian-style clapboard home with shingled roof and fancy shutters that can be closed at bedtime. The house is constructed entirely of plastic and was once a child’s playhouse.

“I found it on Craigslist,” said Ms. Nigro as she cuddled Fancy Nancy, an exotic Salmon Favorelle. “It cost just $75 and is nicely faded with use.”

Ms. Nigro says the hens simply refused to sleep in the laying quarters, which resulted in a search for a new house.

“I was looking for something attractive, but henhouses can be very expensive,” she said. “We leave it open in the summer because the hens are in an enclosure. For cleaning, we can just hose it off and because it’s plastic we don’t have to worry about rot.”

07/27/11 2:53am

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Richard Keogh in his Main Street, Greenport apartment.

Picture the North Fork and, as likely as not, you’ll think about neat-as-a-pin clapboard houses with huge porches, much like the spacious Italianate Victorian in Orient that used to be Dick Keogh’s family home.

That is, until a couple of years ago when he up and moved into a very unusual apartment above Bruce’s Cheese Emporium in Greenport.

“My parents had passed on, my sister is in a nursing home and an 11-room house was just too big for me,” said Mr. Keogh.

Not that Mr. Keogh’s apartment could exactly be described as small, with its 30-foot by 30-foot open concept living/dining/kitchen area.

“I have a separate bedroom and an all-glass shower in the bathroom,” said Mr. Keogh. “The kitchen is all granite. The landlord completely renovated and gave me a blank canvas.”

It’s a blank canvas, though, with original honey pine wood floors, a lot of original woodwork and moldings and huge windows letting in so much western light that bamboo blinds are required.

Luckily for Mr. Keogh, the remodeling sensitively preserved those Victorian features despite the replacement of all the walls, which were in fairly bad shape after a stream of different tenants over the years.

“The building dates from 1850 and I believe was originally constructed for the United Order of Mechanics, who were closely related to the Masons,” he said. “Then this space was used as living quarters.”

Before Bruce’s Cheese Emporium, the building was home to Corwin’s Ice Cream Parlor.

“Part of the original ice cream [parlor] fittings were moved up here to my living space when Corwin’s ceased to be,” said Mr. Keogh, indicating the genuine piece of Corwin nostalgia sitting in his living room. “There’s an upright piano, too, which was here when I moved in. Not sure how easy it would be to move it out.”

When it came to decorating what was already an eclectic space with solid Victorian bones, Mr. Keogh let his imagination take care of the design.

“This is not a wealthy man’s apartment by any means,“ he said. “I simply mixed what was here with some of the precious items I’ve held onto for years.

“I have quite an unusual collection of things,” he added. “For instance, it just seemed right to use the trunk that used to be strapped to the back of my family’s ancient Chrysler as a coffee table.”

Mr. Keogh held a mammoth tag sale when he left Orient, but he kept some furnishings that meant a lot to him, like the old benches and tables and prints and paintings by local artists.

“I have some print reproductions I’m very fond of. I do have a William Steeple Davis and a Caroline Bell,” he said.

Mr. Keogh thinks his home is quite different from anything else in Greenport and says he loves being close to the action at the corner of Front and Main streets.

“I can sit at the window and watch the world go by,” he beamed. “I don’t need a car, but I do have a designated parking spot. And who else has part of an ice cream parlor in their living room?”

07/18/11 8:35am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Feng Shui practitioner Dale Realander at a client's home in Riverhead.

Ever walk into a home and feel stifled, as if the air was a little stagnant? According to Greenport feng shui expert Diane Valentine, the likely reason is blocked energy, something for which she says the art of feng shui has solutions.

“There are many definitions of feng shui,” said Ms. Valentine, who recently conducted a workshop at Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport on feng shui for the home. “Mine is that it is the acceptance and understanding of the flow of energy — called ‘chi’ — within and around us. And through that acceptance, we achieve balance and harmony in everyday life, and that includes our domestic surroundings.”

Ms. Valentine places the origins of feng shui around 300 B.C. in China.

“The bones of feng shui are to do with balancing our own energy,” she said. “Just as when we are ill, it may be that one of our chakras — which are energy centers in the body — is blocked, so, too, an uncomfortable house may be suffering from blocked energy. Applying feng shui principles to the home is all about ensuring energy flow.”

When walking into that stagnant house, Ms. Valentine suggests imagining a tidal wave coming in through the front door. “Can it flow naturally around the furniture? It needs to meander easily through the house,” she said.

To ensure that unobstructed flow of chi, says Dale Realander, a Riverhead-based feng shui expert, try focusing first on the front door, a very important component of the home because that is where energy enters.

“A lot of people use the back door all the time, but ideally the front door should always be used,” she said.

Should there be the unfortunate architectural feature of a wall directly in front of the front door, creating a blockage of energy, Ms. Realander would place a mirror (“the aspirin of feng shui”) or a painting that creates some kind of depth to counteract the thwarted energy flow.

Sometimes, though, the energy just rushes straight through the house and out again, which is apparently as bad as being blocked.

“In many colonial-style homes out here the front door opens onto a long hallway that leads directly to the back door,” said Ms. Valentine. “You slow down the flow by placing a mirror or a plant to the side of the rear door.”

Furniture placement is also critically important. Not only should there never be any furniture with its back to the front door but, according to Ms. Realander, “if you’re constantly banging your hip on a piece of furniture or tripping yourself up, the flow is wrong. It’s also not good feng shui for the dining room to be the first room you see when you enter the house. If you can, switch it into a living room.”

Ms. Realander also believes that placing furniture at an angle can be very useful in opening up a space, especially in a bedroom.
“You should be able to see the door,” she said. “On the other hand, having your bed in line with the door is not good. It’s called the ‘death position’ because you’re taken out feet first.”

And according to Ms. Realander, even though mirrors can be used to great effect to unblock energy downstairs, they should never be used in a bedroom “because a spirit startled by a mirror will give you a bad night’s sleep.”

The experts say coming hand in hand with ensuring a positive flow through the home is achieving a balance between the yin and yang, the feminine and masculine, which are complementary principles of Chinese philosophy.

“Yin is represented by the earth, warmth and curves whereas the yang represents heaven, sharpness and edges,” explained Ms. Valentine. “You need to take this into account with the shape of your furniture. If your chairs are angular, balance the angles with an oval rug, for example.”

The same principle applies to a home’s exterior.

“This is the mouth of chi,” said Ms. Realander.” A winding path unobstructed by bushes or shrubs softens hard edges and invites the chi to enter.”

Colors, too, contribute to an overall feeling of wellbeing.

“Remember that there are five elements involved in feng shui: fire, water, wood, metal and earth,” said Ms. Valentine. “Here’s just one example of where you can create a very jarring atmosphere by painting a room the wrong color. Kitchens are associated with the fire element. They’re hot places so use lighter colors to achieve balance.”

Ms. Realander advises, though, that just a splash of red in a kitchen can be very effective.

“Red increases appetite, which is why restaurants use it,” she observed. “If you have a lot of stainless steel, which is associated with the metal element, that coolness can be balanced quite nicely by red.”

To learn more about feng shui for the home, you can email Ms. Valentine at dianevalentine9@aol.com and Ms. Realander at dale.realander@yahoo.com.

06/29/11 5:49am

PHOTO COURTESY OF SCHS

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” So begins F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Rich Boy.”

And in turn-of-the century Suffolk County, one of the ways in which that difference was apparent was the ability of New York’s very rich to create a singular fantasy of rural life in the form of hunt clubs dedicated to the pursuit of waterfowl. Mostly privately owned and operated, these playgrounds were accessible only to the wealthy and well-connected.

Local residents could therefore only imagine the luxurious leisure activities that took place both inside the private clubhouses and outside, among hundreds of surrounding acres — unless of course those locals were hired as staff, guides or gamekeepers. Until relatively recently, that is. Much of that once private acreage is now open to the public in the form of state or county parks, where, for the most part, their rich histories go undetected by today’s visitors.

Richard Martin, Suffolk County Historic Services director, explains that the county had a strong interest in acquiring such land because of surrounding waterways.

“It has always been a priority to preserve the headwaters,” he said.

In Flanders, Hubbard County Park is home to two former hunt clubs — Black Duck Lodge and the Flanders Club, both of which were acquired in 1971.

Mr. Martin describes Black Duck Lodge as colonial revival in style.

“Financier E.F. Hutton extended the original building in the 1920s and it functioned for many years as a private hunt club strictly for friends of Mr. Hutton,” said Mr. Martin.

The Flanders Club was built in the first decade of the 20th century and is traditional Long Island farmhouse in style, complete with front porch.

“We are currently restoring it,” said Mr. Martin. “This was more of a secondary building near to the water. The interiors are very nice, especially the public spaces. There’s an elaborate brick fireplace in what you might call a great room used for socializing and meetings.”

The county has acquired three lodges over the years, including Suffolk Lodge in Southaven County Park, purchased in 1967.
But the hunt club is not defunct, by any means, says Dick Richardson, past president of the Pattersquash Gun Club in Bellport, an organization that has operated since 1922.

Originally organized by a group of Bellport men, the club currently has 60 members and is open to Brookhaven Town residents. In Mr. Richardson’s opinion, the truly exclusive clubs went out of business because they were individually owned, whereas the Pattersquash club is owned by Brookhaven “and we’ve been leasing the shooting rights since 1922.”

Mr. Richardson thinks, too, that development has had a significant impact on hunting in general, leading to a gradual decline in the numbers interested in the sport and consequently the demise of many of the private clubs.

Craig Kessler was conservation manager with the Flanders-based nonprofit Ducks Unlimited, which advocates for the protection of waterfowl and wetlands, until his retirement last year. Mr. Kessler is an avid hunter himself, and his work involved wetlands and waterfowl conservation.

What he’s observed over the years, he said, is the paradox involved in development versus hunting on Long Island. While he concedes that development has played a part in the decline of hunting, he believes it is in fact the hunters who may have averted even more congestion on the island by opting to sell their properties to the state or county.

“The Long Island community should feel quite indebted to hunters instead of persecuting them,” he said. “All of those properties — and I’m talking about across Suffolk and Nassau counties — are state or county parks. There’s probably around 20,000 acres that could have been sold to developers but these sportsmen wanted to perpetuate that open space. Think what would have happened if a Levitt or a Trump had gotten hold of it. It’s a great legacy.”

‘Private Places/Public Spaces’
Suffolk County’s Elite Hunt Clubs
and Regional Decoys

Can’t get enough hunt club history? Stop by Suffolk County Historical Society at 300 West Main Street in Riverhead, where the organization is running an exhibit on Suffolk County’s elite hunt clubs in the form of photographs, hunting club artifacts and — of course — Long Island duck decoys. Together with the exhibition, the museum’s entry display cases will feature Dick Richardson’s installation on the Pattersquash Gun Club. The museum is also sponsoring a weekly series of lectures on Thursday nights during July and August that will cover hunt club histories and environmental issues, and a silent auction of contemporary and period decoys on Aug. 18.

Call 727-2881 or visit suffolkcountyhistoricalsociety.org.

05/25/11 11:55am

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.