By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor
Dilworth purchased and re-opened The Tasting Room in 2006 after the previous owners sold their interests in the local wine industry and shut it down.
She hopes to re-open again sometime in 2011 at a different location.
"I am planning to spend a lot of time at my bistro this spring, summer and fall season," she said in a recent email "My vineyard is also in Aquebogue. I am also working on a new bed and breakfast project in Riverhead. My interests are in the western part of the North Fork, and my time is limited on the weekends."
The closing goes beyond a simple lack of time, however. Dilworth thinks it needs a better, more-trafficked location too. "I have basically lost interest in the Peconic Lane location and have been wanting to move it to a Main Road location since last summer," she told me.
Dilworth is exploring two new Main Road locations -- both much closer to her bistro and vineyard -- but neither will be available for at least several months, which could lead to a challenging season for the wineries that have poured there, which include Bouke, Brooklyn Oenology, Medolla Vineyards, Onabay Vineyards and Schneider Vineyards.
The Tasting Room has served an important role for these small producers without storefronts of their own. And the multi-winery concept is clearly a good one, and I think one that can work.
Lisa Donneson, proprietor of Bouke agrees, telling me "It’s an excellent concept and can work on Long Island. It offers the consumer a chance to sample a range of styles under one roof and join an interesting wine club. It offers boutique producers a place to showcase their wines."
And clearly the pouring wineries thought The Tasting Room was working for them. Alie Shaper, owner and winemaker for Brooklyn Oenology said "I gained quite a bit of new business by having my wines available for tasting and purchase out on the wine trail. It has been a significant outlet for myself and my fellow wineries, and I'm saddened by its closure."
Shaper recently opened a tasting room of her own -- though in Brooklyn rather than on the North Fork -- but the other wineries are without tasting rooms starting tomorrow morning, leaving some wondering what their next step is.
"The Tasting Room closing is going to be a challenge for a small, high-end label like us," said Chiara Edmands of Onabay Vineyards, adding "It's a shame it didn't work out."
Even if Dilworth re-opens The Tasting Room in a new location sometime in the summer or fall, there's no guarantee that it will be a multi-producer location.
While Dilworth thinks the multi-vineyard concept can work on Long Island, she adds "However, frankly at the moment I am more interested in selling my own wines than selling other people's wines. At the new location on the Main Road, assuming it comes to fruition, I have not decided whether it will be a single vineyard or multi-vineyard location."
I have heard that one or more wineries/brands are considering opening something similar at the current location, but I have yet to confirm that.
I hope that The Tasting Room isn't gone for good, but it will be interesting to see what happens next.