Growing up at The Old Field Vineyards in Southold taught Ryan Weiss more than a thing or two about maintaining historic structures. Chris and Ros Baiz and their adult children, Perry and Ryan Weiss, take a hands-on approach to tending the small family-owned farm and vineyard.
The winery on the bay has a rich agricultural legacy dating back hundreds of years and is home to the old Park Hotel building, a wine cellar that was once a dairy barn, and an 1850s icehouse believed to be one of the only ones left on the North Fork — if not all of Long Island — in its original site.
Weiss recalls working on the historic structures from an early age and still takes time out from his career as a Hollywood set builder to devote about one month a year to the family venture. In the days before electricity, the icehouse was used to store ice taken from a nearby pond. But over time, it fell into disrepair and, this year, rebuilding it became a top priority for Weiss and the family.
“It is a very historically important building,” Ros Baiz said. “We couldn’t let it go another winter.”
To offset the cost of the project, The Old Field launched a fundraiser in August. Proceeds from sales of its Ice House Rescue 2014 Cabernet Franc — roughly $2,000 to date — have gone toward a methodical restoration.
Weiss began the restoration several weeks ago by carefully dismantling the unique circular red-brick structure piece by piece to better understand how it was built, which was essential for a historically correct reconstruction. The 16-foot diameter icehouse was in desperate need of a new conical-shaped roof — not something Weiss could easily reference from a manual. Learning how icehouses were put together without screws or modern-day tools to secure the wood into the brick was a process.
“We peeled away the original parts,” Weiss said. “I have worked on the old buildings [here] before, but nothing like this. There were no books or YouTube videos, but people were investing in this project so you put in the extra effort.”
Weiss was able to salvage and reuse the original bricks and replaced the shingles and beams by hand. He hopes to complete the majority of the work this week and replace the original blue martin birdhouse that perched on its roof for decades with a replica. There are also plans to add electricity and hang photos of the reconstruction process inside the icehouse for visitors to enjoy.
The fundraiser is ongoing and bottles of the Ice House Rescue can be purchased for $45 at the Old Field Vineyards tasting room located at 59600 Main Road in Southold.
See more photos from the renovation project by Ryan Weiss below: