It started, as many great ideas do, with wine. Or more accurately, as a small group of friends who really enjoy wine.
Joss Sackler, who holds a sommelier certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers, belongs to several highbrow wine societies— Commanderie des Côtes du Rhône, Commanderie de Bordeaux, and Confrerie des Chevaliers du Tastevin Sous-Commanderie de New York—of which the members are primarily men. During the black-tie dinners that members’ spouses are allowed to attend, Sackler began to befriend the other members’ wives, and started holding what one early attendee characterized as “wine and cheese nights at home” with a handful of these women in order to socialize further with them outside of the societies. The gatherings stayed humble for some time—the friends would convene and each bring wine to share, often high-end bottles from their personal cellars. The ladies at the gatherings recommended friends to join the group.
“When we started,” says Sackler, “I think everybody was kind of craving it. It was that time in New York when women were like, I’ve been a spouse to somebody who’s a member in one of the other wine societies, and it’s my time now. So when I was like, ‘Hey everybody, it’s women-only, or it’s made for women,’ the interest kind of grew.”
LBV can be thought of as an extension of those fancy wine societies, says Sackler’s spokeswoman, who asked not to be named. “Joss created the afterparty.”
Sackler concurs. “I wanted it to be fashionable, experimental,” she says. “Like, let’s play some music!”
Now, those informal gatherings have evolved into an official private social club, with a name (LBV—short for Les Bouledogues Vigneronnes, or “the winemaking bulldogs”; Sackler owns a Frenchie); 43 members at the time of the recent dinner, a handful of whom are men; and membership fees and annual dues. “Joss is a very modern young woman,” says Sackler’s spokesperson, “who’s redefining what this whole club/society thing means, especially for women.”
Membership confers access to four formal dinners a year, plus an expanding number of other group outings of ever-increasing frequency and range—a visit to an artist’s studio, say, or a preview of a major fashion designer’s upcoming collection, or a workout at Manhattan’s most elite gym—reflecting the interests (and connections) of LBV’s members, who range from fashion designers to gym owners, and stylists to mountaineers. “I look at Joss as the new Amy Sacco,” said a party guest. “She’s gathering together like-minded people.” Less wine-focused and more a cultural society now, LBV is on the verge of becoming an entire lifestyle brand. In fact, Sackler recently launched a streetwear line: LBV care of Joss Sackler, with design help from another LBV member.
Although the group’s focus has expanded, members still gather over good wine. On a recent evening, the venue was the Metropolitan Building in Long Island City, a former warehouse that’s been transformed by interior designer Eleanor Ambos into a shabbily elegant spot popular for weddings and photo shoots. The evening began with a cocktail hour during which members were joined by friends as well as members of an artists’ collective from Bushwick, and Sackler was the centerpiece of a performance in which her couture gown—designed by her friend Elizabeth Kennedy, also an LBV member—was shredded with scissors and painted by artist Tom Taylor. Afterward, a core group of about 30 people (a few men among them) moved upstairs to a long table, adorned with tall taper candles and set with exquisitely thin-stemmed Zalto glasses, for a four-course meal prepared by a notable private chef who once boasted in an interview that he flies in his chickens from France via private jet.
The wines were provided by Charlynne Kovach, an LBV member; that responsibility—or privilege, depending on your outlook—rotates around the group. The pours started with a Piper-Heidsieck Rare Millésime 2002 (widely considered to be the finest Champagne vintage of the current millennium) and moved on to a 2014 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet Clavoillon 1er Cru (which retails for around $200 a bottle)… and only got better from there.
Just before the servers brought out dessert—a raspberry and maple millefeuille—the opening notes of Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls)” rang out over the speakers. The table erupted in cheers—because here, tonight, women indeed ran a cultured world of their own making.