Celebrate Life and Death at RG|NY for Día de Muertos

RGNY’s ofrenda will be on display until November 2. (Credit: Victoria Caruso)

This month, RG|NY celebrates both life and death with a fresh take on an old tradition. In honor of Dìa de Muertos, the winery has built a dynamic seven-level ofrenda in its tasting room.

An ofrenda is a traditional Mexican altar often topped with symbolic objects such as candles, sugar skulls and Aztec marigolds, as well as personal items such as photographs of deceased loved ones.

“The ofrenda is something we traditionally do every year in Mexico,” explained Maria Rivero González, CEO of RG|NY. “It’s a way of celebrating the people who have gone before, especially the people we love.”

Rivero González hails from Parras, a small town in the Mexican state of Coahuila, where his family has been growing wine for almost 25 years. Since launching RG|NY in 2018, she’s found ways to incorporate elements of her culture into her North Fork business, such as showcasing handcrafted Mexican artisans in her store.

“Since we arrived here, we have felt deeply connected to our Mexican roots, teaching people what we do and why we do it,” she explained. “We thought it would be cool to show people what we’re up to on this special day in Mexico.”

Each year, families across Mexico build altars in their homes to honor deceased loved ones. Traditionally, an ofrenda has different layers, meant to represent a stairway to the afterlife. It is believed that souls can return to earth on this special day, and each layer of the ofrenda is designed to help souls on their journeys. Bright orange marigolds, with their strong fragrance, are laid out to guide souls to the altar, while the favorite foods of the deceased are left at the ofrenda to make souls feel at home when they return.

“The main reason to do it is to celebrate them – you invite them to come and visit you – but also to help those who are still in transition to leave,” explained Rivero González.

In many traditional ofrendas, a saint is chosen to ascend to the top. At RG|NY, a portrait of San Lorenzo, the patron saint of viticulture, was rightly chosen for the altar. Downstairs, staff placed frames with photos of their loved ones to honor those who died.

Until November 2, visitors are invited to view the ofrenda and participate in the tradition. Blank pieces of paper were left near the altar for people to write notes to those who parted ways. After November 2, the tickets will be burned, symbolizing their departure to heaven.

In honor of Dìa de Muertos, RG|NY is also hosting what Rivero González hopes will become an annual event.

“We decided that if we celebrate the dead, we should also celebrate the living, so we’re having a party,” Rivero González explained.

On October 29 at 7 p.m., RG|NY is hosting an evening of Mexican food and dessert, burlesque shows, tequila, dancing, and lots of wine.

Guests are invited to interact with the ofrenda installation and enjoy a multi-course meal prepared by Mexican chef Gerardo Alcaraz of Aldama, a popular Mexican restaurant in Brooklyn. Entertainment will be provided by House of Yes NYC, a creative collective known for their funky theater and cabaret shows.

“We celebrate life and death like no one else,” said Rivero González. “I hope people will come and see what we do!”

Tickets are $275 per person plus tax and can be purchased online here.

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