The rebranding of Martha Clara Vineyard into RGNY is not just in name only. Under new ownership, the Riverhead vineyard’s tagline “Modern Tradition” is evident in all facets of the operation from décor to winemaking philosophy.
When the vineyard shut its doors for the last time as Martha Clara in the beginning of May 2019, reopening as RGNY a week later for Mother’s Day weekend, the staff led by Maria Rivero Gonzalez made over the tasting room with a chic meets rustic décor. A cozy sitting room, exuding modern minimalism with leather couch seating, replaces the gift shop area.
The winery’s bottles feature RGNY in light and bright, watercolor labels with the Rivero Gonzalez family crest. The Rivero Gonzalez Family wineries, headed by Mexican businessman José Antonio Rivero Larrea, launched 20 years ago in Parras de la Fuente Coahuila and also operates tasting houses in Mexico City and Monterrey. The company has been exporting some of its wines into the New York City market for several years, but the purchase of Martha Clara marked Rivero Gonzalez’s first U.S. tasting room.
Wine experience and education are at the heart of RGNY. The winery is offering multiple ways to enjoy its 11 new wines, which include a white merlot and rosé along with two sparkling options. Guests many still enjoy leisurely glasses or bottles on the family-friendly lawn, which features games and picnic tables (leashed dogs are also welcome outside). But the focus now is on curating the wine experience through education.
The west side of the tasting room and attached patio are reserved for sit-down service, where flights are encouraged to be paired with small bites such as charcuterie boards, avocado toast and dips from the modest kitchen. Each flight of four wines is paired with a corresponding informational card with tasting notes. The back of the card shows an illustration of the label for each.
“The cards are designed so people can learn about the wine they are drinking without a server standing over them to explain,” Rivero González said. “I want to bring people closer to the wine without being in their face. People can keep the cards so they remember which bottles they liked.”
Customers will be able to rent private garden tables. Known as the Anakin gardens, the tables are located in the back of the property, where Martha Clara’s farm animals used to be housed. The garden get its name from one of the goats. The four private Anakin spaces are available for catered events and expert guided pairings and blending. There are also private tastings in the remodeled upper floor of the main tasting room, inside the former Entenmann estate and the Rosé Garden.
Because of the weather conditions last year, Rivero González said the RGNY and Sielo labels are prominently whites this year, though she is moving to incorporate more complex reds into the lineup by planting a combined seven acres of cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir.
“This region can be proud of its whites,” she said. “I think the cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir will yield good results. We’re overall happy with the outcome of the wines our first year, and we look forward to doing better next year.”
Rivero González said the family takes a traditional, holistic approach to its winemaking at the sustainably grown vineyard.
“It is an approach not a recipe,” she said. “The best wines are made in the fields by using the best grapes available. We focus on growing quality grapes. It is more of a traditional approach … the less added to the wine is better.”
RGNY’s winemaker, Lilia Perez, has already produced 5,000 bottles of the vineyard’s wine on the premises, with the goal of eventually making all the wines onsite. Martha Clara previously processed and bottled at Premium Wine Group in Mattituck. Other future goals include adding a farm-to-table restaurant, luxury homes and transforming the Entenmann estate into a bed and breakfast.
“I always want a lot of things,” Rivero González said. “We are also always willing to work for it.”
As for this year, guests can expect a full lineup of events, both educational and more laid back. In addition to blending sessions with the winemaker throughout the season, special events include North Fork Crush this Saturday, June 22 and the North Fork Rosé and Bubbly Festival on Saturday, July 20, which encourages dancing in the vines. Movies in the vines, farm-to-table dinners and a wine and “spirits” night with palm reading.
“It is such a nice setting for events,” she said. “We want to invite people in to experience the wine and have a lot of fun.”
RGNY is located at 6025 Sound Ave, Riverhead.
See more photos of the RGNY tasting room by photographer Madison Fender below: