After opening up shop in Tanger Outlets in Riverhead three years ago, Empire State Cellars — which eventually became the retail location for Peconic Bay Winery and sold exclusively New York State-manufactured wine, beer and spirits — will close at the end of the year.
Tanger General Manager Janine Nebons said on Thursday that ESC’s lease is set to expire at the end of December.
Peconic Bay Winery’s former general manager Jim Silver launched the retail location in November of 2011 with about 400 varieties of local wine and spirits. Over the next couple of years, the shop capitalized on the craft beer wave, marketing local brews as well.
About a year after the winery opened Empire State Cellars, it closed its Cutchogue tasting room, directing customers looking to taste Peconic Bay wines to Riverhead instead. The Cutchogue space is now exclusively used for larger events like last month’s Pour the Core festival.
Lenn Thompson, executive editor and founder of the New York Cork Report, first reported news of Empire State Cellars’ closure on Wednesday. Also the organizer of ESC’s wine club, Thompson said on Thursday he believed the store’s closure wasn’t necessarily a reflection of a poor business model. Instead, he said, since Silver’s departure last year the store may have since been on “borrowed time.”
“Obviously I’m disappointed that it’s closing — but I don’t think it’s because the store’s concept was a bad one,” he said. “Quite the contrary — New York State’s government has copied the idea with its Taste NY stores, most recently in Grand Central Terminal. There is a greater demand for New York wines than ever before.”
An email to Paul Lowerre — the owner and president of Lav-Cor Agricultural, Inc., the parent company of Empire State Cellar and Peconic Bay Winery — was not returned.
Nebons — who is currently overseeing a construction upgrade at Tanger — said she wasn’t sure yet which store would be taking ESC’s place come 2015, as leases are handled at Tanger Outlet’s headquarters in Greensboro, N.C.
“We always have stores lined up,” she said.