Empire State Cellars to Open This Week at Tanger

You’re in the Tanger Outlet Mall in Riverhead. You’re tired. Your shopping partner has left you in the dust. Either you go to the food court or you wait in the car.

No longer!

Starting this fall a New York wine superstore, Empire State Cellars, will open in Tanger One behind the Ralph Lauren store.

The project is the brainchild of Jim Silver, general manager of Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue, and the store will be a satellite of Peconic Bay’s tasting room. (Silver is shown in front, above, with fellow sipping ambassadors, from left, assistant cellar man- ager Evan Ducz, director of cellar operations Polly Brown and cellar guide Michelle Rebentisch.) Thanks to new amendments to New York winery laws and Silver’s desire to boost New York wine in any way he can, the cellar will offer wine from all over the state, not just Peconic Bay. It will also sell New York–produced spirits and, eventually, artisanal food from our state.

“I’m in the wine business,” says Silver, “and I’m tired of opportunities for exposure. I want to sell wine.” Tanger presents a pretty good opportunity. Looking into the numbers, Silver found that 14 million people shop at Tanger each year. Compare that to the 2.5 million people who make it out to wine coun- try and you’ve got a compelling demographic that includes a substan- tial number of tourists who would like to take a local product home.
Silver hired a recent transplant from Napa, Polly Brown, to run the 3,000-square-foot store/tasting room. Customers will al- ways be able to buy a glass of wine from a rotating selection, and the plan is to feature a wine, a region, a variety or person every day of the year, whether it’s a visit from a winemaker, a book signing or a flight of Long Island viogniers.

This way, says Brown, people will be buying wine because they like it. “And the fact it happens to be from New York; it’s a plus.”

Silver admits the rent at Tanger is high, but adds the amount of money Peconic Bay’s owners, Paul and Ursula Lowerre, will be spend- ing to outfit the cellar in a sleek country style will be less than $100,000. Plus, Silver adds, “Our retail room in Peconic has reached its capacity.”