New York's burgeoning wine industry suffered a reversal on 1 December when the last Manhattan wine shop specialising exclusively in the state's wines went out of business.
The store, Vintage New York, was situated on the Upper West Side; it opened in 2002. Its sister Vintage New York shop in SoHo downtown, which opened in 2000, closed in September.
Robert Ransom, who with his wife Susan Wine owned both stores, attributed the shutdowns to punishing economic conditions.
‘The closings should not be taken as an indication of the viability of the New York wine industry,’ he said. The problem was our circumstances – rising rents, higher costs, thin profit margins, slow cash flow, credit hard to get. Right now, people are going for the biggest bang for the least buck.’
A big problem New York City retailers face is a perception that New York wines, especially Long Island’s, are overpriced. However, the wines sell well elsewhere in the state. New York’s industry is America’s fourth largest, as gauged by 250 producers.
James Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, a trade association, called the second closing ‘a disappointment and a setback for New York wines in the New York City market.’
He added: ‘The exposure and sales we’ve had through the Vintage New York stores over the years has definitely created more awareness and acceptance of New York wines, which we plan to build on in the future.’
Michael Lynne, owner of Bedell Cellars, one of Long Island’s most successful estates, said Vintage New York created for itself ‘a pretty high hurdle – selling just one kind of wine – an emerging region’s,’ when competitors also offered bottles from California and elsewhere.
He praised Vintage New York as being ‘ahead of their time in recognising the quality and potential of Long Island wines,’ but also observed, ‘sometimes it’s dangerous to be ahead of your time.’
Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York