A Conversation With Judy Malone, the executive marketing & communications director for Wölffer Estate Vineyard who talks about Sunset Fridays at the Wine Stand on Route 27 in Sagaponack.
Now that summer’s here, I see Sunset Fridays are back. How many seasons has it been for the series and how did the idea come about?
I think it’s the fourth season. The Friday night thing was created to be a music event as well as a wine event for people to come and sit out back behind the wine stand. That spot in the vineyard has one of the most beautiful sunset views — it really is one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen. When we saw that, we thought it would be a good place for an event. It’s turned into a rousing success. Not only can people watch the sunset, they can have some nice wine and listen to great music.
Based on what I’ve seen, it’s been immensely popular.
I would say at the peak, maybe we have 500 people – at the very peak. Most of the times on Friday you’ve got maybe 100 to 200.
It’s not just wine and music — you also have food available, correct?
We have charcuterie plates and we’re doing a child’s plate this year. We don’t allow outside food or picnicking in either the winery location or the wine stand, so we provide foods that we think people would want. The child plates will have three or four little snacks like cheese and gold fish crackers.
Of course, the tasting room around the corner on Sagg Road is a popular spot for music all winter long and you will have music there on Thursday evenings this summer. How do the crowds at the wine stand differ from the tasting room?
It’s interesting, the wine stand draws a little bit younger than the winery. To be frank, they seem to trade off. I’ll have people here who say they’ve been to the wine stand one week, then go to the winery the next.
I think families are drawn more to the wine stand because of the whole way it’s laid out. We don’t have much grass at the winery, it’s more tables. At the wine stand with the lawn in back it’s a great place to put down a blanket and let the kids toddle around there. We hand out blankets at the wine stand for people to use.
I recall that years ago, the wine stand used to function as an occasional farmer’s market, but it certainly didn’t have vibrancy it has now.
We didn’t do that much with the stand. [The late] Christian [Wölffer] had a farm stand and went through several different processes on that. When they decided to dress it up, it had not been used in a while, so they had to go through an improvement process so they could use it.
You with the highway there, you have a captured audience. People can pick up wine coming and going to and from the city, it was something that was sort of a natural transition. We made improvements and decided it would be a good idea to have music there.
I don’t think anyone could have predicted the success of the Friday event. Now we’re doing Sunset Saturdays there as well, which we started last year. Then on Thursday at the winery, it’s Twilight Thursdays – which came first. So this summer we have music on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Is it difficult to find musical talent for all those spots?
We’re always looking for fresh acts and the good ones are loyal to us and come back. There area a lot of talented people here. It’s gotten incredible over last two or three years. The music scene is sort of like the arts scene here. It’s attracting great musicians.
What are your goal for the sunset events?
We want people to just have a great experience and be able to come out and have a nice time — just kick back and enjoy yourselves. There’s not enough of that. One of nicest things to do is have a glass of wine with friends, watch a great sunset and listen to great music. I love the local people and the sunsets.
Sunset Fridays (and Saturdays) at the Wine Stand begin at 5 p.m. On June 7, “Hopefully Forgiven” will play. The Dan Bailey Tribe will play at the wine stand on June 8. Alex (a vocalist who uses only one name) performs at Twilight Thursday at the Wölffer winery on June 6 from 5 to 8 p.m.