Chances are, you have fallback wines you grab when shopping: bottles you love, and know your guests will, too. But perhaps that will change, if Jonas Andersen and Natalie Marie Gehrels—the duo behind Folkways, a year-and-a-half-old Croton Falls wine shop—have their way.
Dedicated to discovery of wine, spirits, and the traditions that surround them, Folkways stocks globally sourced beverages, often organic, and the accoutrements that up their enjoyment.
Jonas and Natalie come by their international perspective naturally. He was born and raised in Denmark, and his career in the food industry took him to multiple continents. Natalie, a gifted, gallery-represented ceramist, lived in Italy for a decade, honing her innate design sense.
As many Hudson Valley tales begin today, the couple was living in Brooklyn with son River, now 8, and felt the pull of a home upstate. A few years ago, they fell in love with a somewhat neglected house in Croton Falls and became immersed in restoring it. As they spent more time in the area, they noticed that finding the kind of wine they loved—a little obscure, made in time-honored ways—was a struggle. They began schlepping their favorites up from NYC.
So Long, Brooklyn
Then, along came Covid. Jonas had been working for restaurateur Claus Meyer’s Danish culinary empire as beverage director. This involved helming all things drinkable in the Great Northern Food Hall and acclaimed Agern restaurant at Grand Central Station. Suddenly, the commuters that fueled the business dwindled to a dribble. Soon, the food hall was shuttered. The young family decided to decamp upstate full time.
But they didn’t just reinvent their homebase; they also dreamed up a new professional life. Ready for a different, more personal endeavor, they began hunting for a wine shop to call their own. “We felt like we had a lot of passion for wine and spirit-making and a deep understanding of the craft and the farming that goes along with it,” explains Natalie. “We wanted to share that and have a dialogue about it [with customers].”
Jonas and Natalie want their shop to be a place of discovery.
As they began bidding on locations, serendipity struck: The owner of a Croton Falls wine shop that was housed in a landmark 1917 train station approached Jonas about doing some projects. He blurted out that while he wasn’t interested in that kind of work, he and his wife would like to buy her place. They struck a deal.
The Folkways Way
The shop has a generous selection of wines from typical regions (France, Italy, California), notes Jonas, and they represent many biodynamically and organically farmed wines. But surprises abound: “Slovenia has a really long and interesting winemaking history,” he says, “and our Greek section shows off a very hands-off, beautiful approach to making wine.” There are spirits, too, with the HV distillery scene being well represented. Jonas and Natalie want their shop to be a place of discovery as well as a spot where there’s something for everyone. “We named it Folkways,” says Natalie, “to both communicate the idea of sharing social customs as well as being ‘the way of the people,’ meaning we’re inclusive.”
Alongside these wines and spirits are accessories that deepen its enjoyment. The couple work directly with artisans, and most items represent either a Danish design sensibility (a nod to Jonas’ heritage), such as Georg Jensen wine coolers, or a bit of more playful, colorful Italian design, reflecting Natalie’s time abroad.
A calendar of in-store events, such as wine tastings and oyster-shucking lessons, are building the store’s status as a local hub. From June through October, Folkways also serves as a CSA pick-up location for Copake’s Deep Roots Farm.
Savoring a New Lifestyle
All this equals a demanding schedule for the couple who are still working on their home and raising a family, which now also includes son Atlas, 1. With any snippets of free time, they hike and visit local winemaking enterprises. And—true to Folkways’ ethos—they explore some unusual traditions. “We went to Troutbeck on my birthday and did the falconeering experience,” gushes Natalie. “It was one of the best days of my life!”