Healthy is the new black and Natural is it’s favorite label name (Think the wrap dress and DVF). Society is now more aware and eager to eat healthier and eat natural products. But how come we don’t think that way when it comes to our drinking? As a wine-ooo–errhh–ENTHUSIAST, I never pass up a glass at the dinner table or bar. Yet, I’ve never thought about the health of my wine, what is it being made out of, or are there chemicals in it; to be honest, I’m mostly concerned if it’s medium bodied with a spicier twist.
A visit to June has opened my mind.
I ran into the opportunity to interview Tom Kearney, the mastermind behind June Natural Wine Bar and Dimitas Park’s The Farm at Adderley, and between you and me, I also think he’s revolutionizing the natural wine scene in NYC (he’s far too humble about it). As a successful restaurateur, Tom has focused on creating a place where food, community, and conversation melt into one. As Tom has said “the food is really the chef telling their own story and starting a conversation, it’s an expression of self.”
June is a natural wine bar nestled in the ever-so-quaint Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Brooklyn in itself is a mix of so many different neighborhoods, but walking through Cobble Hill feels like you’ve been transported to a quiet district of London mixed with the natural New York grit; the perfect place for someone to stumble into a wine bar at Noon and have a glass of wine..or champagne. So yes ladies and gentlemen, that’s exactly what I did.
As I stepped into June, I immediately felt welcomed. The staff is friendly and pleasant, the natural light beams in through rustic windows, and the outdoor garden invites me to stay all day. It feels like a neighborhood bar but with a much more sophisticated atmosphere. The restaurant had just recently introduced it’s brunch menu and if you know me –you know that brunch is basically makes me swoon. Tom and I sat down, I ordered an espresso and the glimpse into his culinary journey began.
Tom started as a chef for different restaurants in Manhattan and really felt that wine and spirits was missing from his career path so he decided to take some time off. “I started asking people ‘What’s the best way to learn about wine?’ And they told me ‘Don’t go to wine school, work at a wine shop.’” Tom described his transition into wine and spirits. He started to become very inspired through the wine shop UVA in Williamsburg, through their constant changing selections of natural wine — his interest sparked.
“It’s one of those things kinda like gold, or ballet, or brain surgery, you’ll never really know the whole scope of the thing, it’s constantly challenging.” Tom explained. What pushed him more into natural wine was wanted to fully encompass the farm-to-table aspect; knowing that the world we live in now is moving more towards transparency when we have such enormous distribution channels and supply chains it is becoming more important to know where our food is sourced from but also where our libations are coming from.
At this point in the conversation, I am nibbling on the ‘FROG IN THE HOLE’ a slice of sourdough bread with a duck egg inside topped with maitake mushrooms and grana padano cheese along with the ‘GOLDEN BEET TERRINE’ a colorful mix of irish smoked salmon and whipped goat cheese. Both fantastic works of art. The Frog In The Hole is hearty but not too filling and the mix of mushrooms and cheese with a runny duck egg — well, do I need to say more?
Tom explains that everything they use in the restaurant is sourced locally and from trusted vineyards and farmers. “I know all of the farm owners, vineyard owners, and producers that source my products, or if I don’t know them, at least my distributor knows has a relationship with them. It is close-looped.” Tom says it’s imperative to visit the farms and vineyards because once you set foot it is pretty apparent which ones truly care about the natural movement and which ones don’t. “Almost any vineyard that uses a tractor is not a natural wine producer.” Thanks for the tips, Tom!
“Low touch, minimal intervention is the common thread between the wine and the cooking, the key is finding the best ingredients, allowing them to shine naturally and letting the technique fall to the wayside” is how Mr. Kearney describes the thought-process behind June.
There are a lot of protocols to be considered natural wine, which is why Tom takes the utmost care in picking out what goes into his wine list and the effort shows. Ohhh, let us talk about the wine list. THE. WINE. LIST. The wine is impressive with well over 100 wines to choose from, I was overwhelmed. I won’t give away too many secrets (because you have to go yourself!) however, one of the most interesting wines that I tasted was the sparkling orange wine from Veneto, Italy. Don’t worry, I was also in shock that orange wine existed but I may never go back. It wasn’t too sweet but remained fruity and flavorful. How is it made? From white grapes that they keep the skins on, so the pigment is extracted from the skins in the maceration process. Pure genius! I encourage you all to find out if you can find natural orange wine near your area.
If you’re wondering why New York City; as a fellow New Jerseyan, Tom also felt the love I have for this city. “I feel I chose my career by wanting to live here first.” His love for the close community, excitement, and melting pot of cultures pushed him to the city he now proudly calls home to himself and two restaurants.
Secondly, if you’re asking why should you visit June? Tom’s convincing words went a little something like this: “June is about being a place to just come in and have a glass of wine and a good conversation and don’t necessarily have to have a big meal but at the same time you can have a choice of a very an ambitious menu and eat something that’s fresh and different.”
And some of Tom’s most lasting words of advice “cleanliness is everything” and as an avid restaurant junkie — I couldn’t agree more.
Interior Photos Provided By Tom Kearney
Food photos by Cesca LaRaque
Want to see more of the latest & greatest in emerging fashion, beauty & culture?
Sign up for our newsletter below: