The Factory Café routinely attempts to maintain a fresh and unique selection of food and beverages, utilizing as many local and regional purveyors as possible. One of our most recent additions is Oyster Shed Rosé, developed by friend and collaborator Brooks Reitz, founder of Jack Rudy Cocktail Company, and Harry Root, president of Grassroots Wine.
The two men met nearly a decade ago in Charleston, South Carolina, when they built a working relationship—but became friends and have collaborated on several other projects over the years. When Brooks took on the project of developing a wine for Oyster Shed, he reached out to Harry to partner on developing the wine. Coincidentally, Harry was already planning a trip to Provence, France, to meet with a local co-op of farmers and Brooks joined Harry for the trip. “We were both interested in a beautiful Provence rosé that would work with the seafood so prominent in Charleston,” Brooks told us. “We agreed instantly to do it together, and I think we were on a plane to France about a month later. It all came together super quickly as we were both keen to take action.”
The two wanted to develop a wine that would pair well with seafood and both Brooks and Harry have a personal taste for bright, energetic, acidic wines, which pair well with seafood—particularly fried seafood. According to Harry, oysters, in particular, are usually accompanied by acidic flavors such as lemon juice, vinegar, etc., so it is a well-known complementary flavor combination. “The food in Charleston is informed by our proximity to the water,” Brooks said. “We have incredible seafood and gorgeous produce. We wanted a fresh, light-bodied wine with lively acidity to match that food. Rosé is ‘hot’ right now and it’s a great stepping stone for lots of new wine drinkers, so we knew it could be a success fairly quickly.”
Harry has a relationship with a cooperative in Carcès, France, and made arrangements for the two to visit the winery. The cooperative, established in 1910, comprises 130 farmers, each working 7 acres of grapes—40% of which is completely organic, herbicide, and pesticide free. According to Brooks, “They had samples of single grapes that had been produced, and we gathered around a table and created a variety of blends from those grapes. We tasted through the blends until we found a consensus. The blending process was a new experience for both of us, and it was incredible to tailor the blend to achieve the profile we were looking for.” Because they worked directly with the growers, the two have been able to eliminate third-party vendors, keeping the wine affordable.
Brooks and Harry are working toward developing an entire Oyster Shed line of wines that will include a white, a light red, and a sparkling wine. All of the wines will be sourced and developed using the same process and philosophy as the first and should pair well with seafood and other Southern dishes.
Oyster Shed Rosé is distributed by Grassroots Wine and is currently available at a limited number of locations, primarily in Alabama, California, New York, and South Carolina. Only 400 cases were produced, but Harry projects that it will continue to grow and expand. Additionally, Brooks serves the wine at his restaurants Leon’s and Little Jack’s. Learn more about Grassroots Wine here.