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Lieb Cellars Tasting Room has a new and improved look, merging a modern, more sophisticated feel with natural elements. Photo: Courtesy Lieb Cellars

Since longtime head winemaker Russell Hearn, his family and business partners announced their acquisition of Lieb Cellars back in October and closed for construction in January, the group has spent months renovating the space into a contemporary tasting room — and opening day is finally here. 

The Lieb Cellars Tasting Room (13050 Oregon Road, Cutchogue) is officially back with a brand-new feel on Wednesday, April 17, with several improvements to the building’s infrastructure, patio and surrounding vineyards, as well as a fresh menu featuring Hearn’s full wine portfolio — including Lieb Cellars and Suhru Wines

“We’re really looking for a modern, sophisticated, but light, airy, comfortable tasting room experience,” says Shelby Hearn Ulrich, general manager of Suhru Wines and Lieb Cellars partner. “We really wanted to showcase the wine, first and foremost, in a space that makes you feel as much outside as you can while inside.” 

Hearn, founder of Premium Wine Group, purchased the winery for roughly $4.5 million, in a move to team up with his wife, Susan, eldest daughter Hearn Ulrich, son-in-law Brad Ulrich and two new business partners, John and Renée Fondacaro, to merge Lieb Cellars with the second generation and family owned Suhru Wines. 

Lieb Cellars is a 54-acre, sustainably farmed vineyard and winery, which was founded by Mark and Kathy Lieb in 1992. The following year, the Liebs hired Hearn as a winemaker and in 2000, the two founded Premium Wine Group, a full-service custom crush and winemaking facility, and opened Lieb Cellars Tasting Room. 

Suhru Wines was launched by Susan Hearn in 2008 and started out as a wholesale-focused brand. In 2018, the team opened its tasting room at 28735 Main Road in Cutchogue and Hearn Ulrich said the business grew rapidly from there. 

What to expect

Walking into the modern-day Lieb Tasting Room, patrons will notice new lighting, furniture and paint that helped bring “much needed” brightness into the space, Hearn Ulrich says. The team focused on integrating natural and modern elements by implementing a refreshed black and white palette, wood, and leather accents to the tasting room. 

The team also added photography on the inside to showcase the different stages of the grape growing process at the Lieb vineyard. 

“We’ve really focused with this renovation on keeping the core of what people love about Lieb, which is at its core the wines, of course, as well as the beautiful scenic setting on Oregon Road,” Hearn Ulrich says. “We’ve had a couple of people in to see [the space] as a preview and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.” 

As warmer weather approaches, the Lieb Tasting Room’s improved outdoor patio will soon be fully unveiled in May. Hearn Ulrich notes that finishing touches are being made to match the modern, natural aesthetic of the interior. 

Other external improvements include deer fencing installation around the vineyards and an expanded parking lot. Later this spring, over 1,000 new vines will be planted on the property. 

“Quite a number of the vines within the vineyard were older, damaged or there had been skips within the vineyard, so we’re going to be replanting within the existing vineyard blocks to increase the amount of each varietal that we have on the property,” Hearn Ulrich says. 

New additions

Although there are some details that must be kept under wraps, Hearn Ulrich said Lieb Cellars is looking to further expand its food options and continue promoting sustainability. This includes enhancing the cheese and charcuterie menu to consist of more local ingredients and utilizing three new beehives recently placed on the vineyard, so they can cultivate their own honey. 

Lieb Cellars is also jumping into collaborations with other North Fork purveyors, such as with Southold Bay Oysters for an upcoming event on Friday, April 26 to celebrate the opening of the tasting room’s patio. 

Another exciting development: a new Lieb Cellars wine is going to be announced next month. 

“We’re really focusing on how we can get back to the core roots of the North Fork and bring as much of the community in, and how we can collaborate with other members of our community in other ways,” she adds. 

Starting Wednesday, April 17, the Lieb Tasting Room will be open seven days a week from noon-6 p.m. and until 7 p.m. on Friday evenings. 

With the reopening of Lieb, Suhru Wines at 28735 Main Road in Cutchogue will now be open three days a week: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. They will offer wine-focused pairing and comparative tasting classes every Sunday, as well as rotating cheese-focused classes on Wednesday evenings.