Claudia Purita is One Woman Wines & Vineyards. And her daughter Gabriella’s job is to make sure the world knows it. With old-world training and deep, bone-bred respect for the land and the process of growing grapes and converting them to wine, Claudia toils in the her fields 18 hours a day, hand cultivating each vine. “There’s absolutely no one who can match what she does,” says her daughter. “She hasn’t taken a day off in 13 or 14 years, working through a pneumonia and concussion.”
With equal passion and her feet deeply rooted in the world of commerce and social media, the younger Purita is studying Marketing, Chemistry, and English at Stony Brook University, while handling sales and marketing for her mother’s wine. She has established a Facebook page and they have a 5-star rating on Yelp. Gabriella updates the website daily, in addition to maintaining the tasting room and creating special events, such as Tasting Under the Stars, which has been running every Saturday night for four years, weather conditional. There’s candlelight, a bonfire, a movie, and a telescope to see the night sky. “It’s not to party—it’s to enjoy wine, nature, and life,” she says. “Two weeks ago, we saw the space station.”
Purita, a former chef in Nassau County, grew up in Calabria, Italy, “on a self-sustainable farm that supported most of the town, which was mostly family…Whatever went on our dinner table was produced by us. Everybody worked. There was no playtime.”
She arrived in America in 1990 and after 14 years in the restaurant business she wanted to do something different. When she first saw her land, it was a former potato and melon farm, uncultivated. “I wanted a home that more resembled where I grew up,” she says. “I found a piece of land with a little cottage and fell in love with it. I started working on preserving the land. It took us over two years. In 2004 she hand-planted her first fields. It started as a one-acre tribute vineyard to her father, Domenico, who passed away not knowing about her venture, but she now has almost 20 acres under cultivation with a total of 50 acres for addition use.
“She is an over-achiever,” says her daughter, as conversation flows symbiotically between the two, the mother enmeshed in the “making,” understating her own tremendous accomplishments and the daughter purposefully promoting their brand.
“Thanks to Gabriella, the wine gets sold,” says Purita. “She stays on that side of the fence, I stay on this.”“But I help at harvest time,” adds the daughter.
They currently sell more than 2,000 cases and have just increased their production. Their wines are included on the wine lists at ABC Kitchen, Tribeca Grand, DBGB and City Hall in Manhattan and are also sold at Whole Foods. Locally the North Fork Table and Inn, the Riverhead Project, Allure, Amano and Sunset Beach pour their label. Gabriella has done all the placements and sales, an impressive achievement for a young woman.
“I plan to take over the winery eventually,” she says. “Claudia is very traditional but my whole approach is to take things that are traditional and to make them more efficient and approachable for modern day needs. I want to give [customers] an experience of what hard work and dedication can actually do. We are very selective of where we put our wines. Our tasting room is very rustic on purpose—the wine is what it’s about.”
There has been the occasional comment over the years that “one woman can’t do this, there has to be a man involved,” but the younger Purita asserts “No, actually. It’s one woman. For some of them it’s eye-opening… There’s a lot of support from single mothers—they come in from all over to meet Claudia because she has been such an inspiration. When you do something yourself, you gain tremendous respect.”
“I put my heart and soul into everything I do,” says the original One Woman. “I feel accomplished, rewarded. I’m creating something that people can enjoy. People think I’m crazy—but I love it. I have passion for the things that I do.
One Woman Wines & Vineyards, 5195 Old North Road Southold, 631-765-1200, onewomanwines.com.