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Alie Shaper. (Photo credit: David Benthal)

Chronicle Wines co-owner Alie Shaper takes an eyes-and-heart wide-open approach to winemaking and life — and if you need a good fishmonger, she’s got a guy.

As If Wines is one of the six labels that Alie Shaper and her business partner, Robin Epperson-McCarthy, make via their company, Chronicle Wines. But it’s the one that tells you the most about her. 

“As If – well, the initials are AS, which are mine,” she laughs. “And ‘if’ is an incredibly important word. It’s only two letters, but it’s part of every question you ask yourself. ‘What if I do this?’ ‘What if I go that way?’ These are the questions that create our path in life. And for me, it’s a quest of deep possibility.” 

It’s coming close to 20 years since Shaper, a Long Island native, decided to ditch her originally chosen career working in Silicon Valley as a mechanical engineer and dive head-on into the wine world, a decision that has indelibly saturated nearly every aspect of her life. But if Shaper is anything, she’s a believer — in taking chances, in trusting her instincts and in the art, science, beauty and viability of Long Island wine.

She caught the wine bug taking an elective class while at Cornell University, and it deepened while living out West. Realizing she wanted it to be more than a hobby, she moved back to New York and worked every aspect of the business: marketing, sales and distribution, retail, hospitality, harvest. Then, finally, the chance to make wine. 

Shaper launched her first New York-centric label, Brooklyn Oenology, in 2006, via an ambitious tasting room in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, while making the wines at Mattituck’s Premium Wine Group. It was here she met Epperson-McCarthy. “I met Robin when she was running the lab there and I was her assistant, and also spent time in the cellar. It was a total production crash course!”

After a lauded 10-year run, BOE shuttered in 2016 and Shaper moved to the East End. She and Epperson-McCarthy quickly realized they worked really well together, and serendipity struck. 

“Our Chronicle Wines location fell into our laps. Both of us had sold our wines in that building at some point or another, so it felt very serendipitous, even prescient,” says Shaper of the tasting room she runs with Epperson-McCarthy. 

What’s next? It’s a question that she is, of course, open to asking. “I’m rolling with it!”

Favorite grape variety on Long Island

I have to pick? I’m partial and maybe a little obsessed with cabernet franc and petit verdot.

Favorite local wine shop 

North Fork Crush (122 South St., Greenport, 631-477-0024). It’s owned by Evan Ducz and Sam Kimball. They’re one of the few wines shops around that in truth supports local wine producers and don’t just talk the talk — they walk the walk. There’s really passion there for the local wine scene and as a small producer, I really appreciate that attention.  

Favorite spot to exercise

I go to ballet class at Peconic Ballet Theatre (71 East Main St., Riverhead, 631-591-1539). It’s across the street from The Suffolk in Riverhead. It’s a completely different way of using your brain. 

Favorite recent vintage?

2022. The color we got in a lot of the reds, the intensity of flavor in a lot of the grapes. I’ve never seen such intense magentas and deep purples.

Favorite wine question? 

People often ask of the flavors we describe, if those fruits or spices are added. Of course, the answer is no, but it opens up so much conversation about how wine is made and why it tastes like all these different things. 

Favorite farmstand

Wowak (2805 Main Road, Laurel). I’ll pop by there often, and Wickham’s (28700 Main Road, Cutchogue, 631-734-6441) quite a lot, too.

Favorite beach walk

Down by Causeway Beach toward Nassau Point, in part because of the morning sunrise. You get all the sun in your eyes and a good hit of vitamin D.

Favorite fishmonger

I got a guy. Jermaine Owens of North Fork Seafood (Peconic, 631-905-1123). He’s basically a direct sales fishmonger and he sells all his stuff by phone and text. He knows all the local waters and who’s catching what. Our whole seafood pop-up series was using his fresh catch.