Last fall, when Leucadia National Corporation bought Broadfields Wine Cellars from Robin and Karen Meredith, it led to the closing of Long Island’s only two co-op tasting rooms for small, artisanal wine producers, both called The Tasting Room.
This weekend, the owner of a winery who used to sell wine through the two locations is re-opening the Peconic location under the same name.
Theresa Dilworth of Comtesse Thérèse, who will run the operation, is The Tasting Room’s third owner in nine months. Founded by the Merediths in May 2003, The Tasting Rooms in Peconic and Jamesport were acquired by Leucadia in October 2005. Leucadia operated the cooperative tasting room concept from November 2005 until March 2006, at which time both Tasting Room locations were abruptly closed, much to the chagrin of local winery owners and wine lovers.
Not only has Dilworth re-opened one tasting room location, she’s increased the number of wineries involved. Participating wineries include Comtesse Thérèse, Diliberto Vineyards (a real coup if you ask me), Schneider Vineyards, Sherwood House Vineyards and Ternhaven Cellars.
“The Tasting Room is a way for small wineries like myself, who cannot afford our own tasting rooms, to pool their resources and offer wine tastings and sales in a single location,” said Ms. Dilworth. Comtesse Thérèse, a ten-acre vineyard located in Aquebogue that is owned by Dilworth and two business partners from Japan, is the only all–female owned vineyard on Long Island. Dilworth is also planning to open a bistro in Aquebogue featuring an exclusively Long Island wine list and locally grown foods.
Schneider Vineyards and Sherwood House Vineyards, similar to Comtesse Thérèse, have participated in the original Tasting Room concept since 2003, while both Diliberto Vineyards and Ternhaven Cellars are new to The Tasting Room line up.
“Both Diliberto and Ternhaven fit the profile I was looking for, which is small quantities of hand-crafted, boutique, North Fork of Long Island wines,” said Dilworth.
Dilworth is looking to expand the roster of wineries even further, and may be adding more in the next month or two. Most of the participating wineries produce fewer than 1000 cases annually, with lot sizes of individual wines ranging from 50 to a few hundred cases.
The new Tasting Room will occupy only half of the original Peconic location. The other half will house newcomer North Fork Wine Cellars, owned by Stephen A. Distante, a Peconic resident who is also CEO of Vanderbilt Securities of Melville, New York.
North Fork Wine Cellars, which plans to open July 1, will offer custom wine cellars and wine refrigerators, glassware, and accessories, in addition to winery tours and wine education. Christopher Watkins, previously the manager of The Tasting Room when it was operated by both Broadfields and Leucadia, will continue as manager of both The Tasting Room and North Fork Cellars. The former Tasting Room location in Jamesport has been converted to Leucadia’s regional vineyard office. The Tasting Room, located at 2885 Peconic Lane in Peconic, will be open Friday – Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 pm. For more information, call 631-765-6404.