It was only a matter of time, with the way things change, that boxed wine would come to Long Island. Much like the push-pull in the evolution to screw caps, boxed wine has its detractors, but Lieb Cellars general manager Ami Opisso could only see an up- side. It’s less heavy, the box is recyclable and because of a vacuum, the wine stays fresh much longer in the fridge than a wine with a cork that’s been stuck back in. “There’s quality wine coming out in boxes from France and Italy,” she says. “Why can’t we do that?”
The boxed wine—technically a three-liter bag of wine inside a box—is part of a major rebranding at Lieb, which includes spinning off their second label, Bridge Lane, into its own entity, new logos and new formats. The Bridge Lane wine will be sold in the boxes. Wine will also be available in 20-liter disposable kegs, and starting with the 2013 vintage, all bottled wines will be finished with a screw cap.
The boxes, which hold four bottles of wine, will retail for $48 and come in two new flavors: a white blend and a red blend. The kegs hold 26 bottles and will sell for $260, perfect for a wedding or party. “You don’t have to deal with all the bottles,” says Opisso, “and all the garbage. People come in all the time asking for kegs.” You can’t deny the price, says Opisso. “It’s a cool but more affordable way to try New York wine, and you can pass the savings on to customers.”
The kegs will be filled with Lieb wines; the rebranding has changed the winery’s name from Lieb Family Cellars to Lieb Cellars. Those wines are varietals including merlot and chardonnay, plus a rosé. But wait there’s more! Lieb will be releasing a hard cider this year made from local apples in 750-milliliter bottles. While not finalized, Opisso says the brand will be called Rumor Mill. And they intend to add a dessert wine, made by freezing grapes to concentrate the sugar, to their line.
Opisso has been with Lieb for eight months since leaving a job at Sherwood House and is impressed with Lieb’s facilities—all the wine is made at Premium Wine Group, where new acquisitions, like a wine bagger, are not out of the budget or constrained by space. “It’s been a dream come true,” she says.