Welcome to the fabulous world of Joey Wölffer! She is co-owner of Wölffer Estate, one of the largest and most beautiful vineyards in the Hamptons. Founded by her father Christian Wölffer on a former potato farm in 1988, Joey and her brother Marc took over the business after his sudden death in 2008. Since then, they have turned Wölffer into a true lifestyle brand that embodies the low-key, yet glamorous spirit of the Hamptons.
As creative director of the Wölffer businesses, Joey spends her days running between the vineyard—which, among other things, produces a delicious rosé called Summer In a Bottle—horse stables, wine stand and two restaurants in Sag Harbor and Amagansett. If that wasn’t enough, she also owns two treasure-filled clothing boutiques in Sag Harbor and Palm Beach that showcase her unique, coveted style, as well as the Styleliner, a luxury boutique on wheels. I met Joey—who’s also a wife and mother of two daughters—at the beautiful Wölffer Estate Winery in Sagaponack NY, a stunning location overlooking endless rows of grapes, to talk wine, family, fashion and how you, too, can crush your life.
GROWING UP IN THE HAMPTONS
I grew up in New York City until I was nine and then we moved to the Hamptons. My parents thought we were showing signs of becoming spoiled and they wanted to get us out of the city. They wanted to raise humble and appreciative kids, and we became that because of growing up out here. Moving here was so formative to who I am because while I can hang out with anybody, at the end of the day I’m a country girl at heart. There’s nothing I want more than to be with my kids, my husband, my animals, and to be on the farm.
JOEY’S HAMPTONS FAVORITES
WORKOUT: The Class by Taryn Toomey and Truth Training. I also run and have recently gotten into running half marathons for Every Mother Counts.
SHOPPING: My Joey Wölffer stores (obviously), AYR for jeans and the best t-shirts, Relax for pajamas and little
girl dresses, and the vintage store in Bridgehampton, NY, that’s next to Pierre’s and doesn’t have a name.
HOME STORES: Ruby Beets, Black Swan Antiques and Flowers by Beth in Amagansett, NY.
RESTAURANTS: Wölffer Kitchen, Tutto il Giorno for pasta, Sen for Sushi and The Lobster Roll for clams.
FARM STAND: Serene Green in Sag Harbor, NY.
WITH THE KIDS: The Children’s Museum of the East End (CMEE), the chore camp at Amber Waves, and LongHouse Reserve.
TAKING OVER THE VINEYARD
I was 26 when my father suddenly died. I had just met my now husband and was living in New York City working in the corporate fashion world. My father’s death really brought my husband and me together and though it was daunting to deal with a sudden tragedy in a new relationship, it made us realize that as a couple we could handle a lot. His death also forced me to look hard at my future. The winery wasn’t really a business then—it was more of a hobby for my father—and my brother offered to buy me out. But in my heart, I knew I couldn’t let it go. My husband was willing to quit his job and take a chance with me and that’s what we decided to do.
WORKING WITH FAMILY
My brother, husband and I all have very distinct roles which I think is crucial in a business. Our winemaker Roman is a partner too. I can’t pretend to tell you what should go in the wine or what the blend should be, but when it comes to a creative brand decision that’s on me.
SUMMER IN A BOTTLE
The Summer in a Bottle rosé has become one of the biggest parts of our business and it’s gotten us into so many new restaurants and stores. We want people to live and breathe the Hamptons through our brand and if any brand can emulate the Hamptons, it’s ours. Not in the glitzy Hamptons way but in the way of enjoying your family, your friends, the landscape and the spectacular East End light. We want you to feel that Wölffer Vineyard is your spot.
CREATING THE STYLELINER
The food truck phenomenon was taking off and I thought, “Why not do it with clothing?” The innovation of the shopping truck gave me a large amount of press, but the business and the nomadic lifestyle was really hard. My memories of that time are some of my darkest moments but also some of my proudest. I broke down on the highway for two hours, pregnant in the Styleliner and soon after that moved into a brick and mortar store in Sag Harbor, but I still open the Styleliner at the wine stand every week.
CREATING THE JOEY WÖLFFER BRAND
Personally, I don’t care about trends; I care about what makes me feel good. The biggest problem with retail stores is getting stuck with too much inventory so I created Joey Wölffer Reworked to recycle and re-use the leftover product. We’ve been making ruffle t-shirts and wrap skirts with recycled fabric mixed with a new fabric underneath. It’s sustainable, which I believe in, it’s been really fun to create, and we sell it really well.
JOEY’S PALM BEACH FAVORITES
WORKOUT: Orange Theory
SHOPPING: All of the vintage stores, but especially Palm Beach Vintage on South Dixie Highway and, of course, my store at The Royal Poinciana Plaza.
HOME STORES: I love to explore all of the antique stores on South Dixie. Also, the flea markets and antique fairs are amazing!
RESTAURANTS: Sant Ambroeus for Italian and Cholo Soy Cocina for authentic Mexican food.
FARM STAND: Serene Green in Sag Harbor, NY.
WITH THE KIDS: Lion Country Safari, Palm Beach Zoo and the Panther Ridge Conservation Center.
SECRET SPOT: The bird walk at Peaceful Waters Sanctuary in Wellington, FL.
FARMSTAND: Swank Specialty Produce in Loxahatchee, FL.
JUGGLING MOTHERHOOD AND WORK
I don’t “do it all” and I don’t do it all well, but I do try my hardest. If I start my day with exercise, I can get through anything. Riding horses is important to me and it has taught me that you can literally fall on your face, get up and keep going. It’s a humbling sport and it keeps me on my toes. I’ve ridden horses since I was 6 and now it is a passion I share with my children. Once I’m home from work, I try to disconnect from my phone and focus on the kids. It’s so hard because when you’re running your own business there is so much pressure to be focused on it all the time.
A BALANCED LIFESTYLE
My parents are European and that philosophy is more about enjoying life. I eat carbs, sugar and I drink wine, all in moderation. I mean, what am I preparing for? Am I living my life so controlled that I’m not enjoying it? That’s not how I live. My husband appreciates me the way I am. When we first met, I was a size 10 and now I’m more of a size 4/6, and he loves me both ways. I feel confident in myself and I work really hard to not compare myself to others.
LESSONS IN BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR
It’s about believing in yourself even when you hit obstacles, because your business can’t always be growing. You’re going to hit some hard times and you have to know that. I always try to be confident but remain humble as those two things work together well. You can think,“I’m really good at this BUT I have a lot to learn.” Be proud. Accept where you are and where your business is.
ON WHAT HER FATHER WOULD THINK
My father would be so surprised and really proud of what we’ve done with the winery. He really lived life to the fullest and his passing was a kick in the ass for us to make decisions about our own futures. Staying true to who we are in the business is the most important thing we’ve done and he would be really proud of that.