Poppy & Rose Wine Co. may be the newest wine label to hit the North Fork, but founder Kelly Koch certainly isn’t new to wine.
The new line of wines has been in development for over a year by Koch, a longtime North Fork winemaker. The first three wines — a chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and rosé — will be unveiled at a launch party Sept. 9 at Woodside Orchards in Aquebogue, where Koch has been working nonstop to perfect her first vintage.
“We were hoping to sell wine over the summer,” said Koch during a brief break from her winemaking. “But the bottles took forever and we were waiting on the labels.”
Koch has been working at Woodside Orchards for over a decade making cider, so it made sense for her to use the facilities as her home base.
“We already had some tanks we weren’t using as much for cider,” she said. “Last summer, I found a wine press and destemmer in Virginia and decided, ‘Let’s do it!’”
Koch is a Napa Valley native who grew up making wine with her grandfather on a small vineyard in St. Helena.
“When I was a kid, my grandpa still had a little vineyard in his yard, so I made wine with him,” she recalled.
A graduate of UC Davis’ wine program, Koch first worked at wineries around Napa Valley before doing a harvest in Burgundy, France, an experience she says was very formative.
“At UC Davis you major in viticulture and oenology so you study winemaking and grape growing and when I was there, I was into the vineyard side of things and wanted to be a vineyard manager,” Koch said. “Then when I worked in France, I loved working in the winery so I shifted over to the winemaking side.”
Koch and her family have been on the North Fork since 2006 and she’s currently the winemaker at Terra Vite North Fork Winery and Vineyard in Jamesport. She previously worked at Bedell Cellars and Macari Vineyards.
For Poppy & Rose Wine Co., Koch is hoping to tell a story through her wines.
“For me personally, making wine is a reflection of the year and it’s reflecting what’s going on in life at that point,” she said. “The wine tells the story of what happened that year.”
The first batch of wines reflect last year’s harvest in that 2021 wasn’t a “super ripe year,” Koch said. These wines, which come from grapes harvested from various area vineyards, have higher acid, with lower alcohol content.
“I’m really proud of how these turned out,” Koch said.
The name “Poppy & Rose” combines her California and New York experiences, as the poppy is the flower of California and the rose is the flower of New York. Koch worked with local artist Kara Hoblin to design the labels, with each variety having its own art. One label is inspired by a photo of Koch as a baby sitting with grapes on the back of her grandfather’s 1951 Chevy.
Poppy & Rose wines will be sold by the glass and bottle at Woodside Orchards’ Aquebogue and Jamesport locations, with flights and a wine club in the works for the future.
“It’s very emotional,” said Koch of launching Poppy & Rose. “It’s very personal and I feel so proud.”
Attend the Poppy & Rose Wine Co. release party on Sept. 9 at Woodside Orchards, 729 Main Road. Aquebogue.