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Empire State Cellars
Terry Sullivan

Empire State CellarsSome people come for the events while others come to taste Peconic Bay Winery’s wines. Wine enthusiasts, visiting the wineries along the North Fork, may stop by on their way to wineries for an introduction to the wine region or stop by on their way home to pick up a bottle or two from their favorite wineries visited.

Jim Silver had the idea of selling wine, beer and spirits from all over New York. Jim is the General Manager at Peconic Bay Winery and with the winery’s help made Empire State Cellars a reality. The tag line “The best of bottled New York” is quickly experienced by visitors to the Tanger Outlet Center store. Empire State Cellars opened in November of 2011.

Empire State CellarsMaps showing New York State and its established wine regions are placed on walls near the entrance and on the wall behind the tasting counter. It is easy to identify the wine regions on the map. Then one can amble past the displays of wines organized by variety rather than region.

About two-thirds of the wineries in the state have wines for sale in the store. In addition to the wines, Empire State Cellars also sells beer and spirits made in the state. Empire State Cellars is much more than a retail store, a tasting counter similar to many wineries is a focal point. Visitors can taste Peconic Bay Winery wines every day. Wines from other New York wineries are also tasted on a rotating basis. It is possible to visit the store several times and taste different wines.

Empire State CellarsSome shoppers at the Tanger Outlet are finding Empire State Cellars a happy respite to shopping. For example, several men have visited Empire State Cellars as their wives enjoyed shopping. According to the staff, one comment was overheard, “The wives are on their way, get rid of the evidence.” Some wine travelers like to visit to learn about the wineries in the North Fork and in the Hamptons. Other people visit after touring the region’s wineries.


Events are beginning to receive rave reviews. The Wine Maker Taster Series draws winemakers from all over the state to present to the attendees. There are about two events in this series monthly except during harvest. The Empire State Cellars Lecture Series offers topic specific presentations. For example, Rick Olsen-Harbrich discussed the formation of American Viticultural Areas in eastern Long Island. The Food Pairing Series offers advice on matching foods with wines, beers and spirits. Example of topics for the series include whisky and cheese, dessert wine and dessert, and chocolate and wine. Plans are in the process for a Brewmaster Brunches Series.

Empire State CellarsWine Tasting

We tasted several Peconic Bay Winery wines and a couple of wines from other producers in the state. The Peconic Bay Winery 2011 Steel Fermented Chardonnay was a straw color and offered lemon grass on the aroma. The citrus taste also had some hints of tropical fruits. The finish was crisp and fruity. The Peconic Bay Winery 2010 Chardonnay Louverre Family Estate - La Barrique was a light yellow. There was vanilla, caramel and apple on the aroma while the taste emphasized caramel apple and pear. The finish was crisp and fruity yielding to caramel. Peconic Bay Winery Riesling 2010 was a straw color. The taste offered nuances of minerality, and rose petals. The finish had fruit notes and was dry. Peconic Bay Winery Semi-Dry Riesling 2011 had a very pleasant aroma. The taste was slightly sweet with fruit and floral nuances. The finish with a slight sweetness dried on the aftertaste which lingered.

Empire State CellarsA Red Newt Cellars Cabernet Franc was a ruby color and had black fruit on the aroma. The taste included black fruits and leather. There were tannins on the crisp finish. The Channing Daughters 2010 Lagrein was made of Lagrein and was a dark ruby to black color. The aroma was floral with dark fruit. The taste reminded one of flowers, dark fruits and minerals. Bold tannins were on the finish.

Tucked in a corner of Tanger 1 at the Tanger Outlet in Riverhead, Empire State Cellars is a gem for wine enthusiasts to visit. Taste Peconic Bay wines as well as wines, beers and spirits from the state of New York. Amble through the displays and discover “the best of bottled New York.”

Empire State Cellars
308 Tanger Mall Drive
Riverhead, New York 11901

GPS: N40º 55.184’ W72º 43.117º (parking area nearby)

Article written January 2013




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