Jim Silver, general manager of Peconic Bay Winery, will open Empire State Cellars, a New York wine superstore at Tanger Outlet Mall.
The store will feature wines from the Long Island region, Adirondacks, Thousand Islands, Lake Erie, Finger Lakes, Niagra and the Hudson Valley. Silver also hopes to eventually sell New York grown foods as well.
By featuring wines from across New York, Empire State Cellars, Silver hopes, will help the wine regions within the state. "What New York lacks is a certain unity in the way we market ourselves," Silver said. "I think this store is a small contribution, helping the way we market ourselves at least in the wine industry."
This type of New York focused wine store has been attempted before, particularly Vintage New York in Manhattan, now closed. "I thought the other stores were a little ahead of their time," Silver said. "The timing is good now for a New York wine store. A lot of people are turning toward local food, local products, local wine. Interest has never been higher."
A wine store at the Tanger Outlet Mall has never been attempted, at the Riverhead location or any other Tanger Outlet location, according to Silver. He acknowledged that an outlet mall may seem like an unlikely place to find a wine store but said that "folks at Tanger are really enjoying the experiment themselves."
The Riverhead Tanger Outlet Mall sees around five million cars a year and nearly 14 million people. Silver says that number is 10 times more than the number of people who make the extra ten-mile drive into Long Island wine country. Steve Bate, executive director of the Long Island Wine Council, thinks that a trip to Empire State Cellars might change some of these people's minds.
"The traffic at Tanger is fantastic, but a lot of those people may not venture past Tanger…If they like the wine at Empire State Cellars, they might travel further east and visit the vineyards," Bate said.
Silver believes that despite the lack of people who make the drive into Long Island's wine country, the correlation between the average wine consumer and the average outlet shopper is high.
"I looked at the demographics of the Tanger customer, and they coincide beautifully with wine buyers. Outlet shoppers are nearly 80 percent women and between 70-80 percent of wine purchases are made by women," Silver explained. "Also, if you look at the income demographics for outlet mall shoppers, they are much higher than you might expect and that makes a lot of sense for a wine shop as well because typically we’re talking about a higher level income demographic."
Currently, Silver is hoping for an opening around August 1. The store will be located near the food court and Ralph Lauren in the Tanger Outlet Mall.
Tanger Outlet representatives could not comment for this story, pending licensing for Empire State Cellars.