By Kimberly Maul
Finding the perfect wine-and-cheese combination can be a challenge. Luckily, Brooklyn native Alyssa Becker is making it a bit easier for Boerum Hill locals, with the recent opening of Da Vine Provisions, a gourmet shop with a carefully curated selection of meats, cheeses, beer and lots of other artisanal foods.
On Halloween 2008, Becker opened wine shop Donna Da Vine, leaving her job on Wall Street and turning her wine hobby into a full-fledged career. On July 14, Da Vine Provisions moved in next door.
Becker opened the wine shop soon after her mother passed away (the shop is named for her, Donna), and she decided that it was time to take a risk and do something she loved.
“I took my first wine class when I was 21,” Becker says. “And I fell in love with it.” She spent 12 years working on Wall Street and in business, while tasting and learning more about vino in her spare time. Becker even persuaded her company to move her to California, where she continued her education and eventually attended a wine program at the University of California Davis.
Working on Wall Street “took me to places where I could taste good food and wine,” she adds, saying she grateful for the business experience as well.
Being able to spend time in California introduced Becker to new wines, cheeses, and artisanal producers whose products often make appearances in her shops. Sourcing a lot of products from Brooklyn, California, New York, and other states in New England, Becker likes to know the people she buys from, and hopes to travel more to find new producers and products for both shops.
At Da Vine Provisions, there are jams from Anarchy in a Jar, condiments from DP Chutney, pickles from McClure’s, and locally baked breads. Sprout Creek Farm, in upstate New York, provides a lot of the cheeses, including the Ouray that I sampled.
Becker and her staff suggested I pair the Ouray with a spicy dry chorizo from Fra’mani in Berkeley, California. The cheese was firm and buttery, with almost a sweet taste, while the chorizo was flavorful, with a spicy kick that balanced out the cheese. I also tasted what Becker called “a super special Cheddar” from Vermont cheese makers Cabot Creamery and Jasper Hill Farm. The cheese had just a hint of cheddar flavor, not too mild or too sharp, and melts in your mouth.
The idea for Donna Da Vine was to bring artisanally crafted wines to the area, Becker says, and that approach extended into the products at Da Vine Provisions. “It’s my neighborhood,” she says. “I would only bring stuff to my neighborhood that I would eat myself.”
The staff at Donna Da Vine and Da Vine provisions is small, four in total, but the team is passionate and knowledgeable about what they sell. It’s definitely worth a trip to both shops to learn more about the products … and to sample them, of course.
Favorite product in Da Vine Provisions: Sprout Creek Spreadable Goat Cheese with Chocolate Bread
Favorite Place in Brooklyn: Brighton Beach
Donna Da Vine and Da Vine Provisions
355 Atlantic Avenue (at Hoyt)