Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has enchanted a transplant from Green Point, Australia, and he must have heard the party was BYO. Though the Green Point Wines label might set locavore hearts to thumping, vintner James Gosper’s former wine line actually hails from another hemisphere: the sun-kissed vines of a Down Under spot with a similar moniker.
Gosper, who used to be the winemaker at the Green Point winery, moved to Park Slope two years ago to take a job as an American brand manager for Green Point and other wine labels owned by the liquor giant Moët Hennessy. Friends, he says, kept noticing his handiwork had the same name of a Brooklyn neighborhood. “‘Isn’t it funny,’” he says they joked, “‘that it’s an industrial wasteland and your wine is so nice?’”
Gosper was enticed, and headed to Greenpoint to check out the neighborhood. He was immediately struck not by its decay but by the neighborhood’s vitality, beauty and opportunity: “I found out it wasn’t an industrial wasteland,” he says, but instead a diverse, growing neighborhood that had had some struggles—think underground oil spills—and could use his help.
As it turns out, Gosper’s Green Point gospel was not unlike Johnny Appleseed’s: Back in Aussiland, Green Point Wines planted 20,000 trees near their grapevines on abandoned farmland along the Yarra River. Feeling an immediate connection to his new Greenpoint, which he calls “a poster child for years of environmental disregard,” Gosper longed to do the same for his newfound ’hood, and ended up joining forces with the Open Space Alliance of North Brooklyn, which helped put on McCarren Park Pool’s SummerScreen film series and concerts. Last summer Green Point sold sips at those, with all profits going directly to the Open Space Alliance to help plant trees and shed a little “local shade” in Greenpoint.
While McCarren Park Pool is slated to be renovated this year, the Open Space Alliance and Gosper—who has since become the head of U.S. and Canadian operations for Wine Australia, which promotes Down Under vintages in the States—are working on events for this year’s warm weather. They hope to spread the plan this summer to more neighborhoods in Brooklyn and to get other Aussie wineries involved. And while we’re usually partial to locally sourced liquors, we’re willing to overlook the food mile odometer for a wine that’s willing to make, well, such a green point.