How do you celebrate your boss’ birthday? For “Today” show producer Sara Haines, it was a visit to the North Fork Vine University, where she learned about winemaking and purchased a bottle of North Fork wine that she presented to Kathie Lee Gifford, who celebrated her 58th birthday Tuesday.
During the show’s 9 to 11 a.m. segment that Ms. Gifford hosts with Hoda Kotb, Ms. Haines talked about the wonders of the North Fork she had heard about from Stirling House Bed & Breakfast owner Clayton Sauer, as they chatted on his Greenport porch. She showed a pre-recorded video of that chat and the rest of the visit, during which she visited with Chris Baiz at The Old Field Vineyards in Southold to learn about grape growing and got a lesson in winemaking from Jim Waters of Waters Crest Winery in Cutchogue.
Ms. Haines is even seen stomping grapes in the style demonstrated by Lucille Ball in a classic “I Love Lucy” show. Of course, that’s not how it’s done today, Mr. Sauer was quick to add later.
The idea for the segment developed when Ms. Haines, knowing of Ms. Gifford’s love of wine, read about Vine University and latched on to the idea, Mr. Sauer said. Vine University offers two-session courses in winemaking coupled with a stay at a North Fork B&B. The package that includes the B&B, all meals and lessons and 30 bottles of your own homemade wine, is $770.
“It was just great luck,” Mr. Sauer said about being chosen to be a part of the segment.