- Title: USA: Amateur winemaker turns his Manhattan townhouse into a big city vineyard
- Date: 8th October 2007
- Summary: (L!3) NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK USA (RECENT) (REUTERS) VARIOUS EXTERIORS OF GRAPEVINES GROWING AROUND LATIF JIJI'S HOME GRAPES GROWING ON A VINE
- Embargoed: 23rd October 2007 13:00
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Topics: Light / Amusing / Unusual / Quirky
- Reuters ID: LVA2N0QB1PPH6WL4OTVV88KIJWTX
- Story Text: Iraqi born Jew Latif Jiji is has turned his Manhattan home into a winery, with an annual harvest that yields 100 bottles of tasty, sweet white wine.
In a bustling city with more than eight million people, Latif Jiji has created his own private hideaway. The 79-year-old engineering professor turned his family home on Manhattan's residential upper east side into a family-run winery.
It all started in 1977 when Jiji planted a single grape vine. Now, the massive grapevine scales the walls of Jiji's four story townhouse and covers the roof.
"We had a vine in my home in Basra, and I liked to watching going up to the roof and I wanted to do the same thing."
Several years later, Jiji decided to take after his father, who made red wine while he was a boy in Basra, Iraq.
Jiji's family crushed the Niagara grapes in the basement on their own at first, but later he developed a tool to do all the hard work.
This year his crop yielded 500 pounds (227 kgs.) of grapes, which was then made into 100 bottles of wine. So how does the home made wine taste? "It's fruity, it is smooth. I would call it balanced. But the quality varies from year to year and even from batch to batch."
Jiji says each bottle can even taste different, depending on which part of the house the grapes were grown.
Jiji's winery is the only one in all of Manhattan, and while he doesn't sell "Chateau Latif" for legal reasons, he does share it with friends and family. The sharing he says is important and reflects his Arab and Jewish background. The whole process is a labor of love Jiji says, even down to the artwork on the labels, which is designed by Jiji.
So, while he didn't plan on being a winemaker, Jiji's vineyard and winery are nourishing generations, and providing a bit of a respite in this busy city.
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