LI craftsmen create a new brandy

New York State's latest artisinal spirit, made entirely of Merlot grapes grown at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue, Long Island, is hitting the market.

Sono Rinata, produced by the winery and Long Island Spirits, is an immature grape brandy -- not barrel aged -- styled between grappa and eau de vie types of clear brandies. In keeping with state and federal laws, the finished Merlot wine was sold in bulk to Long Island Spirits where the finished brandy was created and bottled, then legally sold back to Peconic Bay Winery at 42.5% alcohol by volume (85 proof).

Sono Rinata is available primarily at the winery's tasting room. It retails for $29 a bottle and can be tasted by the public at Peconic Bay.

“The owners of Peconic Bay Winery, Paul and Ursula Lowerre, are very fond of distilled spirits of all kinds, and the recent change of law [allowing retail sales of New York-distilled product by farm wineries] was an opportunity to experiment with this side of the business,“ said Jim Silver, Peconic Bay Winery general manager.

“We grow outstanding grapes here, and capturing the essence of our Merlot fruit so faithfully in a brandy is something we hoped would someday be possible. Now it is.

“This is as an extension of our business model and another potential use for our produce. We intend to produce more high-end spirit products from other grape varieties and fruit eau de vies later this year, and Rich Stabile has been a great partner to work with.”

Stabile is a founder and president of Long Island Spirits, the maker of LiV vodka.

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