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Sannino Bella Vita’s tasting barn on Peconic Lane in Peconic. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Sannino Bella Vita wines, once rarely available outside the operation’s Peconic Lane tasting room, can now be found on the shelves of local liquor stores and on the wine lists at North Fork restaurants.

“We’re tapping into the wholesale market. We haven’t been in restaurants and liquor stores, and now we’re opening the doors up,” said winemaker and owner Anthony Sannino. “We’ve had more of a demand and our sales have increased.”

As of this week, Sannino wines are now available at Touch of Venice restaurant in Cutchogue, Michelangelo in Cutchogue and Southold and Grana in Jamesport. Bottles can also be found at Peconic Liquors in Cutchogue and Greenport Liquors on Front Street in Greenport.

“We haven’t been anywhere before,” said Sannino, a largely self-taught winemaker who purchased his Cutchogue homestead vineyard in 2006 and released his first wines in 2009.

Sannino white merlot at Peconic Liquors. (Credit: Vera Chinese)
Sannino white merlot at Peconic Liquors. (Credit: Vera Chinese)

Peconic Liquors sold a case of Sannino’s 2013 Bianca White Merlot in the few days before Thanksgiving, said store co-owner Cindy Richards. Adding Sannino to her inventory, which has a large selection of Long Island wines, was an obvious choice, she said.

“I support all the local vineyards,” she said. “You have to support your own.”

Sannino, who also owns a bed and breakfast in Cutchogue along with his wife Lisa, quietly leased ten and a half acres of land at Ackerly Pond Vineyards in Peconic at the beginning of the season. Sannino harvested cabernet sauvignon, merlot and chardonnay on the land which brings their portfolio to a total of 22 acres.

The Sanninos own their five-acre homestead vineyard on Alvah’s Lane in Cutchogue and lease an additional seven and half acres on the same street. Sannino previously supplemented his wines with grapes bought from other vineyards.

“We were purchasing grapes prior to this opportunity,” Sannino said, adding that he has used grapes from Jamesport Vineyards and Cometsse Thérèse Vineyard in Aquebogue. “It’s always nice to grow your own. I’d rather have full control.”

Ackerly Ponds wines were previously sold in Sannino Bella Vita’s tasting room.

In year’s past Sannino Bella Vita had produced about 2,000 cases of wine. Sannino expects to make about 3,000 from the 2014 vintage. He plans to release 2014’s first wine, a chardonnay made from grapes harvested from the Peconic Lane vineyard, this spring.

Sannino’s two Cutchogue vineyards are certified by the Long Island Sustainable Winegrowers Association, meaning the Sanninos have pledged to abide by the organization’s guidelines for farming. Sannino hopes to secure that designation for the Peconic land soon.