Introducing Wine Gifts

We are delighted to introduce you to Manhattan Fruitier’s very own collection of wines! Wine is a natural extension of Manhattan Fruitier’s gift offerings. We hope you are as tantalized as we are by the possibilities. We are currently offering individual bottles of wine and wine gift baskets for delivery in New York State, including, of course, NYC.

Prosciutto & Parmigiano Basket with a Tuscan Chianti wine

Our Prosciutto & Parmigiano Basket with a Tuscan Chianti

We know that buying wine can often be intimidating. There are so many choices and so much to know about wines from around the world. I recently tasted delicious bottles from Sardinia and Lebanon. Wherever grapes will grow, good wine is likely being made. It’s hard for even a wine expert to keep up.

That’s why we put so much attention into creating a highly curated wine collection that won’t overwhelm you.  Instead of thousands of wines to choose from, we offer fewer than 100 wines that reflect the highest standards in grape growing and winemaking. It’s the ultimate indulgence to enjoy a bottle of high quality bottle of wine from a small producer half way around the globe. And delivered as a gift in New York City, it’ll be prized and remembered.

Whether you are purchasing an individual bottle of wine, or pairing wine with one of our gourmet food gifts, we will guide you like a sommelier in a restaurant. In fact, our wine selection is curated by sommelier Ryan Burkett, who trained as a sommelier in fine restaurants in Charleston and New York City. Ryan has a passion for introducing people to the wines and producers he believes in.

Here’s the bottom line:  Any wine you buy from us will be exemplary. We want your experience of buying wine, whether for yourself or as a gift, to be stress-free and fun.  And we’ll deliver to your home or work anywhere in New York State.

The Wines

We offer wines of all tastes and styles with one very important thing in common: they are made by people who care. The wines we offer best express their creator’s intentions. We choose wines from grape growers and winemakers (often one in the same) who want to convey their sense of place, or terroir, to us through the grapes grown on their land.

Wine making is part art and part science. It involves working with an unstable product (fermenting grape juice) which has to be monitored and sometimes gently massaged to ensure that it stays on the path to become an enchanting libation. The best wine makers gently guide the fermentation process, without heavy handed interventions.

wine gift basket with red wine

Our Organic Cheese Basket with a bottle of organic red wine from the Loire Valley

We have a special affection for “natural wines,” namely, wines made from grapes that are grown organically or biodynamically, and made with no or very few additives. The idea is to let the grape speak to us through the wine. This is the magic of wine:  You can be mentally and emotionally transported to France, Italy, Spain, Australia, California, Sicily … while sipping wine in your NYC apartment.

We will be blogging regularly about wine so that you can travel to amazing places and share the stories of people with a passion for what they do.  Wine is geography, history, culture, language, and countless other facets of life.  But really, wine is about the pleasure of drinking it. Enjoy!

Reflections on Manhattan Fruitier’s 30th Anniversary

Thirty years ago, on the afternoon of Sept 5th 1987, I got married to Lauren on the rolling green lawns of the old Inn on Lake Waramaug in beautiful western Connecticut. Forty-five of our closest friends and family were with us, as well as the Inn’s old pony named Chester who was fitted with a large lace collar for the occasion! After a three-day long celebration over the Labor Day weekend, Lauren and I left for Martha’s Vineyard for a brief but delightful honeymoon. On September 15, the day after we returned to Manhattan, the doors of Manhattan Fruitier were opened!

It was a whirlwind summer with side-by-side preparations for our wedding and the new business. I couldn’t have been happier!

1987 – Manhattan Fruitier Opens Our Doors

I met Lee Grimsbo at a small dinner party in early 1987. Lee was a friend of my sister’s and was the Fruit and Produce Manager at Dean & Deluca, when it first opened on Prince and Broadway. Lee had made a few fruit baskets for customers that he designed using Flemish still life paintings as his inspiration, and he wondered if it could grow into a business. I thought it could and we became partners in G & G (Gold & Grimsbo) Manhattan Fruitier!

Founding Members of Manhattan Fruitier

Jehv, Lee and cat Kato

Our first little shop was down on 6th Street near the Bowery. And in 1987, the Bowery wasn’t at all hip. Our first employee was Drew Pleak, a colleague of Lee’s from Dean & Deluca. (Thank you, Dean & Deluca, for hiring and training such talented people — we have employed quite a few other alumni/alumnae over the years as well). Drew is still with us and his design sense and creativity infuse all of our gifts.

After the first year, we took over the basement, and after the second year we rented additional space to handle our holiday business. In those early holidays, we worked around the clock making baskets and organizing deliveries. Lauren was in graduate school at the time, but helped out when she could, especially at the holiday time.

In December 1990, in between doing research on her dissertation, Lauren (also 8 months pregnant with our daughter) would tie netting over the baskets to keep the fruit secure and wrap a simple grosgrain ribbon around the basket and tie it with a bow. I remember we had to rig a little adaptation for her so that she could get her body close enough to the counter where the baskets were lined up ready to net.

We were a real curiosity. People would stop on the sidewalk, day and night, and watch us work through the glass in the door. “Oh, look at Santa’s elves at work!” they would exclaim.

After a couple of years, Lee left Manhattan Fruitier to pursue his love of all things related to gold leaf. He found a great gig at New York Central Art Supply that lasted almost 25 years. He has always championed the growth and continued success of Manhattan Fruitier and we remain friends.

Expanding Outside of New York City

Initially, we only hand delivered our gifts in and around the NYC area. At the urging of a travel agent who was promoting vacations to the Caribbean, we sent tropical fruit gifts in wooden crates across the country. The success of that project led us to develop our shippable hampers and expand our gift line. This was one of our first lessons in listening to the good suggestions of our customers.

 

Manhattan Fruitier Store Front on 29th Street at Park Avenue

Store Front on 29th Street at Park Avenue

After five years, in 1992, we moved Manhattan Fruitier uptown to Park Avenue and 29th Street. We had a beautiful old store front (which we didn’t mess with, though we needed to replace the broken glass). We spent 20 years in that location and watched the neighborhood change around us. By-the-hour hotels and “street walking” business women were slowly replaced by high end hotels, wine bars, yoga studios and condos.

In 2005, we opened a location in Los Angeles to serve our bi-coastal customers which included a few movies and TV shows (see some of our highlights below). As a result of the recession, we decided to close this location in 2009.

By 2012, it was time for us to move again. We had very much outgrown that space and were maintaining separate facilities in Queens and Brooklyn across the years. Our next stop would be Long Island City, where we could consolidate and where we currently operate the business.

Signing Manhattan Fruitier Long Island City lease

Jehv & Massimo Signing Lease For Our First Space in Long Island City

The Manhattan Fruitier Family – Our Incredible Team

The vast majority of our current staff have been with us for 10-20 years which means they like what they do and the environment they work in, and that makes me feel really good. We’ve celebrated milestone birthdays together and watched our children grow up. Like all work places, employees meet and sometimes have romantic relationships, which can lead to marriage and children. By our best reckoning, there have been three marriages and seven children so far.

Over the years we have also lost some good people to their career dreams. For instance, Joe R. a ridiculously smart and funny guy, cut his satirical teeth at Manhattan Fruitier and later became the editor of the Onion satirical media outlet. A group of talented Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) graduates (Adam, Mahoney, and Jason) worked at Manhattan Fruitier in the early years and then went on to form Urban Folk Arts where they pushed each other creatively producing provocative art. Michael M. and Georgia H. both went on to get PhD’s in psychology. Matt J., our intrepid literature enthusiast, was just accepted to the Applied Quantitative Research program at NYU.

Manhattan Fruitier Centerpieces for Explorers Club

Lauren Arranging Centerpieces For a Party at The Explorers Club

We are also so fortunate to have talented people return year-after-year to help us with our holiday business: Tunde I., Haydn L., Jai S., Roushka V., Jillian D., Martha R., Kritzia P., Terry G., Riley S., and Jari J. for example.

And while we have suffered a few losses in the Manhattan Fruitier family over the years I am reminded to value each person, not only for their contribution to Manhattan Fruitier, but for their specialness in the larger world.

We’d love to tell you who our customers are, and who some of their recipients were, but we pride ourselves in being discreet.

Highlights from the last 30 years:

    • Featured for the first time in the New York Times. (1987)
    • Candace Bergen (my actress crush) calling to place an order. I happened to take that order. I just had to share that! (1988).
    • Featured in the New Yorker Magazine: “Run, don’t walk, to the phone and call Manhattan Fruitier.” (1988)
    • Our fruit basket appears in Mike Nichols’ movie “Working Girls” as a gift to Sigourney Weaver’s character when she is in the hospital with a broken leg. (1988)
  •  Martha Stewart & Drew on set
  •  Martha Stewart & Drew On Set
    • Martha Stewart doing a “field trip” to Manhattan Fruitier to record a segment for her TV show. (1997)
    • Our fruit basket was presented as a retirement gift to Kevin Kline’s character in The Emperor’s Club. (2002)
    • Our fruit basket makes a cameo in the Woody Allen film “Hollywood Ending”. (2002)
    • Lauren got to take a call from Renee Fleming in 2003, one of her all-time favorite opera singers. She was as gracious on the phone as she appears on the stage.
    • Our fruit basket appears in a final episode of “Sex and the City” in Carrie and Misha’s Paris motel room. (2004)
    • On Boardwalk Empire the character Lathrop gets one of our fruit baskets with a note that says “Thanks, you’re a peach.” (2011)
    • Liz Lemon snags a cookie from a Manhattan Fruitier fruit basket in an episode of 30 Rock. (2013)
    • A gift hamper was in the Academy Award winning movie Birdman. Hint: The gun was hidden behind our hamper on the top shelf in Riggan’s (Michael Keaton’s) dressing room. (2014)
    • In HBO’s Girls, Hannah delivered a fruit basket to Adam and Jessa as a way to make peace with them and herself after ex-boyfriend and best friend started dating. During a Moth-like open mic performance, Hannah says something like, “I even gave them a fruit basket, and a not-too cheap one at that.” (2016)

Being in business for 30 years, we’ve been buffeted by many forces outside of our control, and survived. There was 9/11 and all the anxiety and disruption around it. There was the subway strike on December 19, 2005 that paralyzed NYC during our busiest week of the year (our intrepid employees came to work by foot, bicycle and roller blade). And, we experienced the hopefully once-in-a-lifetime great recession of 2008 (never good for gift giving). In 2012, there was Hurricane Sandy, and its impact on NYC’s infrastructure. Overall, we’ve tried to be patient, taken a long term perspective, and proven ourselves to be resilient.

8 Signs of a Good Day at Manhattan Fruitier

As part of our Maker of the Month profiles, where we interview Manhattan Fruitier food makers to learn more about what makes them tick, we always ask, “What’s a good day at your company?”

I thought I’d pose that question to myself:  What is a good day at Manhattan Fruitier?

A good day at Manhattan Fruitier includes these things, in no particular order:

ORDERS IN THE BOX

All gift orders start with a paper work order placed in a sorting box at the beginning of our assembly line. I like to see David, our Head of Customer Service, placing a large stack of orders in the box at the start of each day. More orders come in across the day, of course, but it feels good to start the day strong.

customer service orders

CUSTOMER LOVE

We keep careful track of customer feedback. A good day definitely includes hearing from a customer who takes the time to let us know that we have exceeded their expectations with our products and our service.

NEW PRODUCT IN THE PIPELINE

I love developing new gifts. A good day would include working with Drew, our Creative Director, and Sarah, our Head of Product Development, on a new gift. Spoiler alert: we’re putting the finishing touches on a gift of a traditional Jewish breakfast (smoked salmon, bagels and cream cheese).

TASTING IS BELIEVING

Before we add a product to our gift line we taste it and many others in the category. It involves really thinking about what you like and why. We use a scale for taste, quality, uniqueness and appearance. I really enjoy this process. We’ve just finished tasting fruit jams from 12 different companies. Someone has to do the hard work!

jam tasting

DOING ANOTHER THING WELL

We describe our approach to marketing as doing 1,000 things well. Sara Nakash, our Head of Online Marketing, is always working on doing yet another thing well. On a good day I might see a mention of Manhattan Fruitier in a third party blog, a redesign of our order confirmation emails, or the implementation of a new ad campaign.

MOVING AHEAD WITH PARTNERSHIPS

Lauren, our Head of Keeping Us Going in the Right Direction, and I devote a lot of our time and energy to developing marketing and product partnerships. On a good day, I see positive results from this work, maybe in the form of a new partner or ongoing work with an existing partner.

CONSTANT IMPROVEMENT

Every member of our staff is charged with trying to improve our processes and materials in order to get the best gift delivered in the most efficient way possible. On a good day, I’ll hear that someone came up with a better way to do something – a refrigerator gets moved, a box size gets changed, paper shred for cushioning fruit gets filtered an extra time to eliminate dust, etc.

GAMES

We just set up a ping-pong table (admittedly we are late to the game). I get a lot of pleasure from seeing people here take a few minutes out of their day to have some fun. Currently, Charles, our Head of Expediting and Plant, is the one to beat!

pingpong

 

I’d say it’s a good day when five of these things happen. It’s a GREAT day when they all do.

 

 

The Mediterranean Diet Collection – The First of our HealthWise Gifts.

Last December, we were talking to a friendly long-time customer who happens to be a nutritionist. She told us that she thought we weren’t doing enough to highlight the healthy nature of our fruit gifts. We agreed. We invited her to come visit our new facility in Long Island City in early 2013, after our holiday rush,and we talked about ideas for further developing a line of healthy food gift baskets. The result is our new line of HealthWise gifts, launching as a collection later this summer.Right now we are ready to introduce the first of our HealthWise gifts, our Mediterranean Diet Hampers. These 3 hampers, whimsically named Amalfi, Capri and Santorini, all feature the quintessential ingredients of the Mediterranean diet.

Santorini-Mediterranean-Hamper

our Santorini hamper includes the basic ingredients of the Mediterranean diet. It’s a perfect gift for anyone who wants to eat healthily – or just loves Mediterranean food.

The Mediterranean diet is based on the eating patterns and traditional cuisines of people from the lands surrounding the Mediterranean Basin including Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Morocco, among others. A healthy Mediterranean diet emphasizes lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fish, olive oil, nuts, and herbs and spices. Red meats, processed foods and sweets are minimized. Epidemiological studies found that people living in these countries had lower rates of heart disease. Thus began more focused research into the health benefits of this approach to eating.

The Mediterranean diet has always been popular, but each time a new medical research study reports

positive health benefits for people who follow it, this diet’s popularity peaks. The Mediterranean diet has been linked to cardiovascular health, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and healthy cognitive functioning. Most recently, the New York Times reported on a large, rigorous prospective research study that compared the risk of heart attacks and strokes among people who were randomly selected to follow the Mediterranean diet with the risks for a similar group of people who did not follow this diet. The researchers found that the participants on the Mediterranean diet had their risk reduced by 30%! The results were so strong that they stopped the study early.

One of the reasons the Mediterranean diet is popular among people who choose a healthy lifestyle is that is it easy to follow! There are few restrictions and it is not low calorie or low fat. Olive oil features prominently as do fish high in omega 3 fatty acids. The olive oil and herbs and spices bring distinctive and delightful flavors to cooking. Even wine is allowed in moderation.

We are excited to introduce our healthy line of gifts to Manhattan Fruitier. Coming up next: a gift of fresh seasonal fruit with a scrumptious gluten-free treat from the certified gluten-free only kitchen of Kyotofu. Check back soon for more HealthWise gifts for different dietary needs —- and let us know which healthy gifts you’d like to see at Manhattan Fruitier.

Why We’re Not Selling Ice Cream This Summer.

Many of you have asked us why we’re not selling ice cream or popsicles this summer. It’s been one of our most beloved gifts and people look forward to it every year.

Well, the answer is “the environment” and “our consciences.”

We have decided not to send frozen gifts because they have such a negative impact on the environment.

summer ice cream scoop and bucketIce cream shipped across the country is pretty amazing and as much as we know how delighted people are when they open up a gift of ice cream and cones on a hot summer day, we don’t think that the ends justify the means. Ice cream or popsicles, whether delivered locally in NYC or shipped nationwide, impact the environment negatively in two ways:  the styrofoam containers required for delivering a frozen product basically never biodegrade and the dry ice used to keep the ice cream frozen is basically evaporating from the instant it is made, which means wasted energy at every point along its very short life.

We researched styrofoam alternatives, including containers made from corn and mushroom spores. Neither proved they could do the job, although the mushroom containers are a very exciting new eco-friendly packaging alternative that may be a game changer in the future. Check out this recent profile by Ian Frazier in the New Yorker about Ecovative Design. Bravo mushroom guys!.

We’ve always tended to be green here at Manhattan Fruitier because our classic aesthetic has ruled out the usual gift basket industry trappings of plastic fillers, shrink wrap, synthetic bows etc. We have also done our very best to source materials from sustainable sources as local as possible, even if it costs us more. Our 100% post-consumer recyclable cardboard is made across the river in N.J, and our cotton ribbons are made in Philadelphia. We strive to do right by the environment in all our purchasing decisions.

That’s why the idea of another summer of styrofoam, daily trips in the van for the dry ice pick up and running extra freezers started gnawing at us. So, the long and short of it is, we’re doing our small part to not unnecessarily injure the environment, even if it means losing sales. We hope you understand and support our decision.

Jehv Gold, Owner