A boutique wine shop focused on small sustainable producers from around the globe opened recently at the gateway to the Long Island Wine Trail.
Wines By Nature, owned by wine industry veteran George Eldi, opened July 1 at The Shoppes at East Wind in Wading River.
Eldi’s résumé includes many years working as a wine rep, most recently for Verity Wine Partners, as well as several years as the front-of-house manager at the former Seafood Barge restaurant in Southold.
“I’ve taken everything I’ve learned about retail and food pairings and I’ve created this,” said Eldi, who lives in Ridge with his wife, Nancy, and 11-year-old son, Nicholas. “What I am doing is not new, but this area does not have this. I’m not recreating the wheel. I’m offering local people the option of a wine expert that knows about wine.”
The store will focus on small-batch wines from sustainable and certified organic producers from all over the world and the selection will be curated mostly by Eldi. The store will also offer wine education seminars hosted by northforker columnist and The Cork Report founder Lenn Thompson, who will select the New York wine list.
“So few local shops have an extensive, well-curated group of local wines on their shelves,” Thompson said. “We can’t stock every Long Island wine, obviously, but we can cover all of the important producers and varieties — with plans to grow.”
Eldi won’t carry large brands, which means you won’t see Yellow Tail or Cupcake Vineyards wines on the shelves. He will, however, carry well-known brands of spirits.
“I want to get people off the highway of commercialized wine brands and off ramp them to the back roads where the small, family run, artisanal wineries live,” he said.
He also favors bottles that have a story behind them like that of Proud Pour, which makes a Napa Valley sauvignon blanc that supports oyster reef restoration. Every bottle of Proud Pour sauvignon blanc sold locally will generate enough money for 100 oysters to be planted in Center Moriches, Eldi said. He is also offering a 40 ounce bottle of French rosé, bottled under a screw top, that resembles the bottles of malt liquor found in convenience stores.
Eldi expects to paper the walls of Wines By Nature with internet memes to keep the atmosphere light. He encourages customers to ask questions and he said he will offer in-store tastings.
“If you are a snob or a know-it-all, you are going to shut people down,” he said.
Eldi was first turned on to the location by his friend Patty Kaczmarczyk, owner of Cheese and Spice Market, also located in the Shoppes complex. She noted that having a high-quality wine store nearby is a plus for her product.
“We’re the perfect pair,” Kaczmarczyk said. “I can confidently send customers over there and say, ‘Go talk to George.’ I tell people all the time, he knows wine like nobody’s business.”
Find Wines By Nature at 5768 Route 25A, Wading River or visit winesbynatureny.com.