One Woman is a winery true to its name. Owned and operated by Claudia Purita, there’s not a single inch of the 46-acre vineyard that she hasn’t touched. Working day in and day out, Purita has been able to produce delicious and quality-driven wines over the last two decades solely as a one woman show. Due to her dedication and passion for her craft, Purita has made a lasting impact here on the North Fork.
Raised in Calabria, Italy, Purita learned winemaking from her grandfather. Growing up in an environment of self-sustainability, Claudia’s job was to help him in the family vineyard where they’d make wine for the village. This wine had no DOC or DOCG. It was purely made for the locals by the locals.
Purita eventually moved away from her family’s vineyard and headed to the United States. In the late 1980’s, she found herself in the restaurant industry. She’s a former five-star chef but was sick of her environment. She lusted for fresh air and sunlight, two things kitchens aren’t known for.
She wanted to go back to her roots. Back to what she grew up with. Back to the memories in the vines with her grandfather. With a house on the North Fork already, she knew exactly where to escape to.
In 2001, Purita made the move. The first acre of One Woman was planted that same year on what was once a potato and melon farm. By 2002 she had five acres. Today, there are 46 acres and 21 varietals planted.
Purita wouldn’t release her first vintage until she had six acres. A daughter-described OCD-haver and perfectionist, Claudia meticulously hand-picked all her grapes. A practice she continues today. The only tractor on the property is used to till the soil. “People would stop by and they would see her in the field toiling and would realize, she may be crazy but she’s putting in the hard work,” Gabriella Purita said of her mother.
It wasn’t all easy for Claudia to make her dream happen. She had to find a way for people to respect her and her wines. As the only female winemaker and winery owner on the North Fork when she produced her first vintage, she felt she had to set the standard. Even if that meant treating her grapes as her children.
“What you see is from my mom’s hard work,” Gabriella said. “She has a work ethic unlike anybody I’ve ever met. She really just does not stop. When my father was alive she would be here working the winery from 4 A.M. until 6 or 7 at night and then she would go cook in his restaurant. She would get less than two hours of sleep for probably all my teenage and early 20s.”
This dedication is reflected in her wine. And if the wines aren’t up to snuff, Claudia’s simply won’t bottle them. One Woman won’t produce a 2021 vintage, simply because she wasn’t happy with the juice. Instead, it was sold off for someone else to mess with. If it’s not up to her standard she won’t put her name on it. Although you can expect to see some new stuff from her, bottling for 2022 vintages began this month.
2023 might be the best year yet for One Woman. Purita and her daughter are especially excited about their red wines and some new varietal releases. The hope is there will be a single-varietal Dolcetto after two previously failed attempts of producing a wine they’re proud enough to attach their name to.
“It’s front palette heavy, with great intensity, and mellows out to this artichoke or herbaceous amaro-esque profile on the back palate,” Gabriella said.
Dolcetto is also a nod to the core red varietal of Calabria. It was found in one previous wine of theirs, a 2016 red blend release named Roccia, a tribute to Claudia’s youngest brother who passed away that year. It featured the seven varietals that she feels represent each of her siblings, Merlot, Malbec, Pinot Noir, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Dolcetto.
“She doesn’t give up, no matter what life throws at her,” Gabriella said. “She keeps going. My sister and I always joke that the vines are more her children than us because she spends more time with them. But it’s the level of care and love that she does dedicate to the vineyard. This is her family. This is her passion, her drive.”
She had to convince others that a female winemaker and vineyard owner could succeed on the North Fork as well as any male. The community here supported her from day one but Gabriella reflects on the struggle she had trying to spread her mother’s wine.
“When I walked into restaurants to do tasking back then the amount of discrimination and people saying ‘Oh you’re just a stupid young girl, what do you know? I’ve been doing this for years and years, you’re just some small producer on the North Fork. I’m not even going to taste your wine.’”
“I got kicked out of so many locations. It was really rough,” Gabriella said. But in life, you persevere. When your grapes don’t ripen how you want, you make it a blend.
One Woman winery has been through a plethora of hurdles. Even today, they have the smallest tasting room on the North Fork, advertising not to bring groups of six or more because you won’t all fit in the room.
There’s a building on the property currently under construction. The hope was to have it finished by this winter season but it looks like it will be this summer. A brand new tasting room. While preserving the history of the building that was built there in the 1800s and the newest portion in the 1920s.
“The previous owner of the property actually lived in a house right there (adjacent to the property) until a couple of weeks ago when she passed away. One of her favorite pastimes was to sit outside and keep watch. It was absolutely one of her dreams to see that building restored. So we’re really happy that we’re finally getting there and that she got to at least see us break ground,” Gabriella said.
“When it’s done, it’s gonna be great.”
Claudia Purita has built an oasis of wine out in Southold. With new facilities coming to the winery, the vineyard slightly off Route 48 is the perfect quiet haven to enjoy some of the North Fork’s best wines. None of what stands there today would’ve been possible without the dedication of Claudia and we’re proud to carry just some of her selection.
The Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc have a gorgeous salinity quality to them thanks to their proximity to the Long Island Sound. The Gruner Veltliner is bright, zippy, and perfect for those quickly approaching warm spring and summer days.