When Wölffer Estate started making rosé in the early 1990s, many wine snobs in this country still associated the pink variety with sweet, budget-priced offerings like white zinfandel “blush” wines, Ms. Wölffer said, considering them not much more elegant than a cheap wine cooler.
“Nobody was drinking it,” Ms. Wölffer, 40, said on a recent Monday afternoon, enjoying a lunch of curried chicken on the patio of the estate’s tasting room in Sagaponack, N.Y., gazing at the rows of budding grape vines that stretched lavishly toward the horizon. “Young people weren’t drinking it. Young people weren’t drinking wine.”
They are now. Wölffer Estate has ridden the rosé renaissance of the last 15 years, and also helped drive it. In 2014, according to the company, Wölffer sold 1,530 cases of its signature line, “Summer in a Bottle,” a crisp rosé in a clear bottle decorated with a whimsical explosion of wildflowers and butterflies.
Last year, the winery sold 69,000 cases of “Summer in a Bottle,” and this year is on pace to sell 73,000 cases, along with and 35,000 cases of a new rosé imported from France, “Summer in a Bottle Côtes de Provence.”
Wölffer’s rosés — the company now has eight varieties — have become a fixture at backyard parties and beach picnics, a symbol of languid days on Long Island’s South Fork. For the young summer-share crowd, rosé has become a stylish alternative to beer or hard seltzer.
“Seventy-thousand cases is just an extraordinary amount of wine for a small estate,” said Kristen Bieler, a senior editor at Wine Spectator, who oversees coverage of the rosé market. She credited Wölffer as “an early pioneer, committed to producing dry rosé in the mid-’90s, long before it was fashionable.”