Sannino Vineyard formally opened Long Island’s newest winery and tasting room in Cutchogue last week, the conclusion of a four-year planning and building process to expand an operation that began in the family home.
Co-owner Anthony Sannino said the opening represents the realization of a dream, employing members of the family and allowing the operation to expand its production and distribution reach.
“We always dreamed of having a location that would bring more people,” he said Monday after Sannino’s first weekend in business. "It certainly did on Saturday."
Sannino, who owns the winery, vineyard and a connected bed & breakfast with his wife, Lisa, designed and built the new winery, with drawings finalized by architect Robert Gruber. Construction began last year after three years of approvals with the Town of Southold.
The Sanninos launched the business in 2009 with an innovative approach that taught wine lovers to make their own wine from local grapes, cultivated and stored in his cellar.
They later opened a tasting room at the former Ackerly Pond Vineyard wine barn in Peconic, where Sannino continues to grow grapes on 10.5 acres from vines that were first cultivated by Long Island wine pioneer Ray Blum.
But with the new operation, Sannino said he plans to expand production and distribution beyond his traditional direct-to-consumer model from 200 wine-club members and tasting-room sales.
“With this new facility we can expand production and we’re going to start getting a greater reach on the island,” said Sannino, former president of the Long Island Wine Council. “It’s potential revenue for us and we’re definitely going to go for it.”
The new building has a 2,800-square-foot cellar for wine production and storage, capable of expanding Sannino’s annual production to 10,000 cases from the current 2,000 cases, he said. But it won’t happen overnight.
“We’ll add to it slowly,” he said of the annual production. “We’ve been in business 10 years” and grew methodically to reach production of 2,000 cases year.
The consumer winemaking program, which was suspended last year during construction, will be restarted next year, with production somewhat smaller than the full barrel-per-customer of the original program. “We’ll morph that into a social and educational program,” Sannino said.
The new building has plenty of room for it. On the main floor, there’s a front room that will be used primarily for Sannino’s private wine-club events. There’s also an adjacent tasting bar by the entrance that opens into a seated serving area and further gives way to a large outdoor seating area. The second floor houses a business office.
Sannino, who is also a building contractor, built the winery using so-called passive-house construction, which employs insulated concrete forms and structural panels to keep drafts down and energy bills low. Grapes are “gravity fed” into the cellar, increasing quality by reducing damage.
Sannino will still get his grapes from the Ackerly Pond vineyard and another 8-acre farm in the region. The Sannino’s daughters, Marisa and Miranda, will help manage tasting room and vineyard operations and wine making.
Despite the bigger operation, Sannino said the company’s focus will remain the same as it was when it launched a decade ago. “We’ll focus on the experience and the quality of the wine,” he said.