Break out of your same-old sipping habits at Folkways, the Croton Falls shop devoted to wines and spirits that are off-the-beaten path—and entirely delicious.
Chances are, you have fallback wines you grab when shopping: bottles that you know you love, and your guests do, too. Chances are, as well, that those vintages aren’t from Hungary or Greece. But perhaps that will change, if Jonas Andersen and Natalie Marie Gehrels—the couple behind Folkways, a year-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 natural and organic, as well as the accoutrements that amp 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 were 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.
Goodbye to Brooklyn
Then came Covid, tossing plans—professional and personal—into the air. Jonas had been working for restaurateur Claus Meyer’s Danish culinary empire as beverage director in the Great Northern Food Hall and acclaimed Agern restaurant in Grand Central Station. Suddenly, the usual flood of commuters dwindled to a dribble and the food hall was shuttered. As NYC ground to a halt, the young family decided to decamp to upstate.
But the couple 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 had 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 [with customers].”
As they began bidding on locations, a bit of serendipity struck: The owner of a Croton Falls wine shop that was housed in a charming 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. The shop owner and the couple struck a deal.
Folkways, Here We Come
The shop has a generous selection of wines from typical regions (France, Italy, California), notes Jonas, but surprises abound: “Slovenia has a really long and interesting winemaking history,” he says, “and our Greek section, with natural and orange wines, shows off a very hands-off, beautiful approach to making wine.” Two trusty Greek bottles? Xydakis Assyrtiko 2018, a lively white from a garage winery in Mykonos, and Vaimaki Mater Natura 4 2009, a great red by a winemaker in Macedonia.
Spirits fill the shelves, too, with the Valley’s burgeoning distillery scene being well represented. The couple stocks the honey-infused whiskey from Callicoon’s Catskill Provisions Distillery, plus bottles from Neversink Spirits in Port Chester, Branchwater Farms in Milan, and Union Grove Distillery in Arkville.
Jonas and Natalie want their shop to be a place of discovery as well as a place 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. Whoever you are and whatever your taste, you’ll find things of interest.”
Alongside the liquor are items 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 more playful Italian design, reflecting Natalie’s time abroad. “We’ve just worked on our own spirit glass,” she notes, “they are handblown in Murano.”
A steady 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 includes son Atlas, 1. When they have free time, they hike or pop into local winemaking enterprises. And—true to the Folkways ethos—they love exploring unusual, time-honored traditions. “We went to Troutbeck in Amenia on my birthday and did the falconeering experience,” gushes Natalie. “It was one of the best days of my life!”