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Saltbird Cellars
What many people miss about the wine business is that it’s year round. There’s a lot going on in between harvest and popping the cork.
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“Grapes don’t stop growing because of COVID,” says Robin Epperson-McCarthy, who is the one-woman show behind Saltbird Cellars.
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Epperson-McCarthy applied for an SFEE Resilience Grant (donate here to fund the grants) to help her buy screw caps and labels for her 2019 Sauvignon Blanc. “If I hadn’t gotten it when I did, I would have put it on a credit card, which many wine growers end up doing.” She adds, “I’m concerned about other people winding up in debt.”
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Like other farmers, Epperson-McCarthy had to modify her business model to adjust to the pandemic. She says regular customers were still able to buy the wine at the tasting room she shares with winemaker Alie Shaper, Peconic Cellar Door on Peconic Lane, which sells five different brands through their cooperative Chronicle Wines.
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When the tasting room was closed, the wines were set up in the front window so customers could see what was for sale to be picked up curbside. The two have been shipping a lot of wine, she says, and online sales are brisk.
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Epperson-McCarthy created tasting kits so customers can have the tasting room experience at home. The boxes include wine notes, tasting mats and five different wines in 50 ml bottles.
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Things are getting back to “normal.”
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Peconic Cellar Door is open Friday through Monday from 12pm to 5pm with outside seating and masks required.
“I’m incredibly grateful for the grant,” says Epperson-McCarthy. “Slow Food East End was the only organization to reciprocate for all the wine we’ve donated in the past. It’s a community.”
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AAQ / Resource: Water Mill Building Supply

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