Kathie Lee was the “meet” in our Meet & Greet at Bloomingdale’s in White Plains during our annual Wine & Food Week in June. We pulled her aside to chat about Westchester and nearby Greenwich, Connecticut (where she lives), and her new wine, Gifft.
Q: What do you think of when you think of Westchester?
A: When I first came to New York and I was working at Good Morning America—weekends are long when you’re brand new in the City and don’t know anybody—I had some friends who used to invite me out to Manursing Island [in Rye]. They lived right there on the point, and we would go to the Manursing Island Club. When Frank and I got married, we bought our first home in Greenwich, so we’re Connecticut people, but I have an awful lot of friends who live in Westchester. It just seems like it’s my neighbor.
Q: So where did the idea for your own wine come from?
A: My attorney, a wonderful, very smart man, said, ‘There’s a gentleman I want you to meet. He puts deals together for people, and he’s very smart and very ethical,’ and I’d met plenty of smart people in the world, but ethics are harder to come by. So we set up an appointment. The first thing he said was, ‘I think you should have a wine line.’ And I looked at him and said, ‘Where have you been all my life?’
Q: How did you decide which wines to produce?
A: They wanted to put out a Chardonnay first, and I said, ‘Well, I used to love Chardonnays, but, honestly, I’ve started drinking Pinot Grigios because the Chardonnays coming out of California have become very heavy, oaky, and very buttery.’ I said, ‘If you can take the Chardonnay grapes that are just delicious here in Monterey County, and make a wine like when I was in the 1970s when I first started my career out in California—make one light and crisp and delicate and fruity, but not sweet, but really refreshing.’ And they said, ‘Oh yes, we can do that.’ So we went back a couple of times until we found one that I just loved.
Q: What does Hoda say about your side biz?
A: Hoda’s stunned by it. She loves the red. That’s all she’ll drink. She goes into different restaurants in New York and sings its praises, and she’s gotten us into some very snooty places, so she’s my partner in crime.
Q: See much of Regis anymore?
A: All the time. We get together about once a month for dinners or lunch. In fact, we were at a wonderful restaurant out in Greenwich recently—it’s Regis’ favorite. We were having dinner for my son’s 24th birthday, and his godparents were there, and Regis and Joy.
Q: Do you have any local favorite places that you go to?
A: I have a lot of them. Morello [Italian Bistro]. The Rye Grill & Bar. We go to Terra a lot in Greenwich. L’Escale on the water. We go to Baang Café, which is very cool. And Gabriele’s [Italian Steakhouse]. There are some really lovely restaurants.