In winemaking, as with many industries, there are the Goliaths — name brands that produce millions of cases per year — and then there are the Davids, wineries making smaller quantities and focusing on ecologically sound farming and other techniques to yield wines that reflect the place they were grown.
The owner of a new wine shop in Wading River, Wines by Nature, developed a crush on the latter during his decades in the wine business, and is devoting his shop to those more unique, harder-to-find bottles.
“We’re featuring small, family-run wineries from around the world, in an engaging environment,” said owner George Eldi, whose 1,500-square-foot shop opened in the Shoppes at East Wind “retail village” on July 1.
Eldi spent 14 years as a salesman with the wine distributor Frederick Wildman & Sons and three with Verity Wines before taking the leap into retail. “I’ve been selling directly to the top shops and restaurants in Suffolk County for the last 18 years, and I’ve learned a lot along the way,” Eldi said. “I’m taking that experience and putting my twist on it, featuring and supporting the kind of styles I became accustomed to selling.”
Those wines skew toward small-to-medium producers and touch on most the world’s major wine regions — including a “robust and awesome” section of New York state wines curated by New York State-wine expert Lenn Thompson, founder and publisher of the wine website The Cork Report, who will hold tastings and classes at the store.
Typical of some of the other 400-or-so-bottles on Wine by Nature’s shelves are wines from Merry Edwards — who makes sustainably grown Pinot Noirs and Sauvignon Blancs in Sonoma’s Russian River Valley — and Chateau Maris, a biodynamic producer in France’s Languedoc region.
Eldi said that while customers will not find Yellow Tail or other giant wine brands, he strives to carry bottles that might be slightly more recognizable to regular wine drinkers, such as South Africa’s Indaba Wines, which donates a portion of its sales to early-childhood education. On the other end of the spectrum, a section called “What is that?” is stocked with wines such as Viognier, Carmenere and Mourvedre that might be less familiar, but that Eldi loves to talk about with customers.
“You might know what you like, but you don’t know what other wines in that category are in the same flavor profile,” Eldi said. He usually has a bottle open for tasting, he added. “I know a lot of people want to learn about wines and feel like they don’t know enough. I’m doing my best put people at ease.”
A growing roster of spirits from Long Island, Brooklyn and the Hudson Valley round out the eclectic selection.
Wines by Nature is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 12 to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Wines by Nature (inside the Shoppes at East Wind), 5768 Route 25A, Wading River, 631-886-2800, winesbynatureny.com