Joey Wölffer Talks Fashion and Wine

Wölffer. The name conjures images of the quintessential Long Island summer experience. Between the family’s winery, restaurants and their world-famous Summer in a Bottle rosé, it’s nearly impossible to experience the season without dipping your toes into the Wölffer pool.

It is all a credit to Christian Wölffer, who was a man before his time. The late winemaker saw where the industry was going: sustainability becoming the standard, embracing an ethical approach that honors the land of a still-young wine region. It’s a mindful and necessary movement that at its roots is simply about making good wine in the best way. This type of creativity and innovation was the inspiration for Christian when he opened his namesake Sagaponack vineyard 30 years ago. Now at the helm are his daughter Joey and son Marc.

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Carrying on her father’s name while simultaneously defining her own, Joey humbly embraces two very different lifestyles built on the same Hamptons foundation. Warhol, Pollock, de Kooning and Jagger’s contributions to the Hamptons of the 60s and 70s, in addition to her own childhood memories, define what Wölffer calls “Hamptons Bohemia,” a low-key yet glamorous lifestyle that influenced her Styleliner Truck. Touted as a treasure chest on wheels, the mobile boutique Wölffer launched in 2010 is a culmination of new, vintage and international pieces, as well as Wölffer’s branded collection, wares with roots from her East End home.

That eponymous collection is as expressive as the decades that inspired it. Textured and embellished velvet and leather handbags with metallic hardware, bright embroidery on a muted base and exaggerated fringe outline the style. Simple yet sophisticated, globally inspired t-shirts complement looks that can be dressed up or pared down. “I pick what I like and what feels right for the moment,” Wölffer said of curating the collection. “I love to discover a designer that no one knows yet, and I like for the customer to have the same experience that I do in discovering new designers and pieces and fall in love with something that is so unique.” Eclectic in offerings and nomadic at heart, the Joey Wölffer brand hosts trunk shows and traveling popups in cities across the country, as well as retail stores in Sag Harbor, Nantucket and Palm Beach.

But the Wölffer name remains synonymous with wine. Designated as one of the few sustainable vineyards by Long Island Sustainable Winemaking Association, the business encompasses a tasting room, horse stable, wine stand and restaurants in Sag Harbor and Amagansett. New vintages and styles are set to be released, just at the Styleliner Truck gears up for a makeover that will debut at the winery this summer.

What was the inspiration for creating the Styleliner Truck?
Having worked in fashion right out of college, I spent much of my time traveling for work and discovering brilliant designers that no one in the States had access to. I wanted to create a curated gallery to highlight these designers. Food trucks had become such a huge phenomenon that a retail truck only seemed natural. I also was eager to create a vehicle (no pun intended) where I could bring fashion to the customer. It’s something that really seems to work. Once I was ready to start a family, I opened my first brick-and-mortar shop in Sag Harbor. This was ideal for the summer season, where I could be down the road from the winery and able to park the truck at the wine stand on weekend evenings.

“Hamptons Bohemia” has been a critical inspiration to your brand. How do you take the various aspects that define this style and incorporate them into the pieces you design?
I try to root my ideas in a feeling or a memory and then build upon that from what I’ve seen when traveling the world and what I am inspired by in my daily life. It’s carefree, it’s elegant, it’s a little bit eclectic and fun. I never try and take anything too literally and love putting my own touch on things.

What trends are you loving for the summer this year?
The best thing about fashion now is that it doesn’t cover just one style. The 70s trend continues to move forward, but there is a big push for cleaner lines and a “preppier” style as well. I believe you should dress in whatever way makes you feel your best.

What does the future hold for the Styleliner Truck and your brand? 
Last summer I rebranded the Styleliner to Joey Wölffer at all my retail locations, this year holds the same for the original truck. It will be rebranded and featured at the wine stand every weekend as always—but now as a shop for kids. I love that the wine stand is so family-friendly, and as we work hard to keep it that way, there was no better way to launch my kids’ lines. Plus my own two are growing so fast, they will be there playing every night as well. We are thrilled to be extending our lease at The Royal Poinciana Plaza in Palm Beach, which will be staying open year-round now in addition to the Sag Harbor shop. It’s been such a fantastic extension of the brand. This summer we will be touring the resort areas doing traveling pop-ups in Nantucket, Newport, Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard.

What is new at the winery this summer? 
This year is our 30th anniversary so we are excited to be celebrating not only our past but our future. Over the course of the year we will be hosting events, releasing celebratory, limited-edition wines and launching exciting new additions to our portfolio, including our very popular Wölffer Estate No. 139 Dry Ciders in cans. Summer at the Estate will be fantastic as well. We are working on some programs that should delight visitors to our tasting room and wine stand.