There’s a New Tasting Room on the North Fork: Peconic Cellar Door Is Open

Winemakers Alie Shaper (left) and Robin Epperson-McCarthy (right).

The whitewashed walls and wooden tables are pure North Fork chic. To the right, a long, wooden bar runs nearly the length of the tasting room, while behind it a chalkboard advertises specials and catchy hashtags like #RealMenDrinkRosé.

The mood inside the new Peconic Cellar Door is fun, relaxed and welcoming.

Winemakers Robin Epperson-McCarthy and Alie Shaper have partnered to create this newest North Fork tasting room. While neither owns a vineyard, both are skilled vintners, having worked with several local vineyards and buy their grapes from them.

Located on scenic Peconic Lane in Peconic, the two were very specific about what type of space they wanted, pursuing a more intimate space over a vast tasting room seen at other wineries.

“It’s not our intention to be a big, bustling place,” Ms. Shaper said. “We’re not going to be throwing weddings. It’s so people can come, learn what we do and have an intimate experience, because, at the end of the day, wine is social.”

“We looked at quite a few places, but it was hard finding the right place, the right size and the right facilities that would keep it focused on the wine,” Ms. Epperson-McCarthy said. “This was perfect, 600 square feet of just wine.”

Brooklyn Oenology, As If Wines and Saltbird Cellars are all available at Peconic Cellar Door.

Ms. Epperson-McCarthy, a North Fork native, is the creator of Saltbird Cellars, a label she created in 2015, after seven years as Premium Wine Group’s Lab Director and several seasons spent harvesting wines in California, Australia, and New Zealand. The Saltbird Cellars label now includes three white wines, a red and a rose’.

Alie Shaper is the creator of two labels; Brooklyn Oenology and As If Wines. Sourcing New York grapes, Brooklyn Oenology began in Brooklyn, where Shaper operated a tasting room from 2010 to 2016. The label has more than a dozen wines including a Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Gewurztraminer and a Reisling.

“Brooklyn Oenology wines has always been about what I like to call Brooklyn terroir,” Ms. Shaper said. “Each one of the wines is paired with an art piece by a Brooklyn-based artist, so it extends that sense of terroir to the sense of community.”

Also during that period, Ms. Shaper started As If Wines, which she described as an extension of Oenology and an expression of her style and taste. That label includes a white, a red and a rose’.

“My initials are A.S., so that’s where the ‘As’ comes from and the ‘If’ is all about possibility and opportunity,” Ms. Shaper explained.

A Long Island native, Ms. Shaper grew up in Nassau County, making Cutchogue her permanent residence three years ago.  When not making her own wines, Ms. Shaper consults and makes wines for other clients, like Love Lane Kitchen in Mattituck.

“Every time I came out to do winemaking, I always felt I never had enough time to spend here,” Ms. Shaper said. “So there was always this inkling to have a cottage out here someday.”

Visitors may be surprised to find that Peconic Cellar Door shares a building with another vintner, Anthony Nappa, winemaker for Anthony Nappa Wines and Raphael Vineyards.

“People can get a really good in-depth experience from us and them,” Ms. Shaper explained. “With our three brands plus Anthony Nappa’s brand and Raphael, they can actually cover a lot of ground in this one little building.”

As to why both winemakers, who’ve known each other for 11 years and worked together at Premium Wine Group, decided to open a tasting room together, the answer appears to be very easy.

“We have great symbiosis,” Ms. Shaper said. “Even though we’re two different companies, we have a very similar outlook so far as hospitality, interacting with our customers, keeping it focused on the wine.”

“In some form or another, we’ve always been in business together and so now having this tasting room together,” Ms. Epperson-McCarthy said. “It really was a no-brainer, she’s on my speed dial.”

Peconic Cellar Door is located at 2885 Peconic Lane in Peconic. For more information visit