By Indiana Nash
NISKAYUNA — The Capoccia family have been vintners for generations, from Italy, where their ancestors first learned the skill, to Niskayuna, where the new generations are carrying on the tradition.
“My family first came over here in the ’50s and of all the things they could take with them on the boat to Ellis Island, they took their wine making tools,” laughed Justin Capoccia, who oversees the business. The family still uses the some of the original barrels — one stands outside of the winery on Balltown Road in Niskayuna.
But the Capoccia Winery will soon be moving on to another location.
“We’re looking to expand and we’ll need more land. We’re getting to the point where I’m actually a little worried not having enough wine,” said Capoccia.
The winery has been open since 2012, and Capoccia has been running the business with help from his father Dominic. “He showed me how to make wine in the first place so I wouldn’t have any of this without him,” said Capoccia.
“The goal is to stay local. We’re looking into Schenectady or maybe Ballston Spa. We need about 25 to 30 acres,” said Capoccia. Due to the timing of the grape season, they’re hoping to move by the end of the year.
On the winery’s website, the family states that they use only grapes from New York.
“The Capital Region actually has a great microclimate. We’re right on the same level as France,” said Capoccia. He also cites the work that Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has been doing with crossbreeding grapes as the reason the Capoccia’s grapes have grown so well.
“We can actually grow about 70 different grape varieties up here,” said Capoccia. This allows the family to experiment with a wide variety of wine blends.
The Capoccias don’t believe in adding water to the grapes to increase volume. “Lots of places use juice to make wine and we don’t do that,” said Capoccia.
The Capoccias also let their white wine grapes sit in the skin for a day longer than other companies. “It’s a wine maker faux pas in this country, but not over in Europe,” said Capoccia.
A few weeks ago, Capoccia was awarded a bronze medal in the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. “It was great! We competed against thousands of other wineries and tons of other wines,” said Justin with smile.
Beyond expanding acreage, Capoccia has recently opened up a wine bar in Schenectady called The Lounge.
“So far it’s just been me running everything there,” said Capoccia with a sleepy grin. This is one of the area’s only wine lounges and Justin is proud of that.
“I honestly just love the atmosphere of a lounge, of having retail in one area and then a bunch of couches and chairs where people can just relax and have a glass or two of wine,” said Capoccia.
Although he hasn’t been participating in much of the ‘lounging’ himself, Capoccia is hoping to hire a few people to help out soon.
By Indiana Nash