Today the 1977 Citroen H van that you see parked outside Croteaux Vineyards in Southold is painted a pleasing light green, swaths of colorful fabrics hang from its top and rows of pinkish wine line its shelves.
But the van, which has been dubbed “Rosé on the Run” by the vineyard’s owners, has origins that are far less glamorous than that of a mobile wine shop.
The van, which has been completely refurbished and now features a working 1963 engine, originally served as a butcher’s truck in Normandy, France. That was before the Croteau family discovered it about two years ago.
“When we found it, it had no engine and it was all rusted out,” said vineyard co-owner Michael Croteau, adding that it likely traveled from market to market each morning. “Its lifespan probably existed within a 20 to 30 mile radius. [The H van] was the proverbial work van in Europe.”
Croteau had the van shipped from France to Eurocar Imports, a vintage European car importer and mechanic shop in Toms River, N.J., where the vehicle was restored. North Fork Welding in Greenport installed the interior walnut-colored wood finishes.
He estimated the project cost about $35,000.
The van, which will be open outside the vineyard from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Labor Day, offers the all-rosé vineyard’s wines, provisions like macaroons and cheese and Croteaux merchandise.
Wine by the glass and tasting flights are not available, though customers may request a sample before purchasing a bottle.
“It’s not a bar. It’s not a place to drink. It’s more about tasting the wine, buying it and taking it home with you,” Croteau said. “We had a lot of people at the end of the day coming in who just wanted to buy wine and not deal with the crowds or driving into the vineyard.”
Croteau noted the van is another outlet to sell the vineyards’ increasingly popular wines. Croteaux produced 4,000 cases of rosé in 2014, up from about 2,400 in 2014. Despite the added inventory, the vineyard has already run out of its popular Chloe sauvignon blanc rosé and Sauvage merlot rosé.
“Our sales are up 30 to 40 percent over last year,” he said.