A Dream Realized in Sannino Vineyard’s New Tasting Room in Cutchogue

Sannino Vineyard's new tasting room in Cutchogue. Dana Shaw photo

The story of Sannino Vineyard’s new tasting room, which opened in Cutchogue in early September, does not begin last summer, when construction broke ground. It begins over a decade ago, when Anthony and Lisa Sannino purchased a piece of property. In 2006, they purchased a 5-acre plot of land, on which they built their family home. From there, a larger vision emerged.

The idea, Anthony Sannino said, “was designed many years ago in our minds, that we would build this home and design it as an inn.” But first, they needed to build a house, one large enough to suit both their large family (the Sanninos are parents to four children, aged 15 to 22) and their vision of a five-room bed-and-breakfast. “We started the first single-room bed-and-breakfast in 2007 or 2008,” Sannino said. “Shortly after that, we opened the second suite in the house.”

The couple envisioned a full-service experience, similar to the agriturismos of Europe, whereby guests can opt to stay at small farms instead of larger accommodations, enjoying food and wine that is produced on premise. The Sanninos knew, however, that the fulfillment of that vision would take time. First, they needed to purchase an adjacent lot. Next, it was the hurdles of permits, which alone took three years.

“The vision was there since we bought this property, so that we could actually provide a full experience for people,” Sannino said. Lisa Sannino does the majority of the cooking for bed-and-breakfast guests — 90 percent, Anthony concedes — while he offers a helping hand when needed.

Although the project is not yet complete — the Sanninos will have to wait until they are empty nesters to operate their inn at capacity — it is well on its way. The newly finished Cutchogue tasting room boasts 6,000-square-feet of space, on a property that is just under 9 acres. Two thousand square feet will be dedicated solely to winetasting and sales, while the first floor is also home to over a thousand square feet of wine production space, a 450-square foot crush pad, and a 2,800-square-foot below grade space for blending, bottling, and ageing. The space can accommodate just over 150 people inside, as well as more on its 2,000-square-foot patio. It’s a remarkable turn from the prior space, located on Peconic Lane in Peconic. That space could fit no more than 45 people.

The building, which Sannino acknowledges reflects his aesthetic both as a builder and as a winemaker, marries industrial elements with ecological ones.

“The floors are concrete,” Sannino, who has 30 years of experience as a builder, said. “We did radiant heat, because it’s the most efficient heating. We tied in an industrial look to the building. I took the concrete and used it in the countertops.” The result is a cohesive look, the concrete drawing the eye from the floor to the counters.

In order to warm up the space, Sannino brought in timber and reclaimed wood, elements that bring a distinctly non-industrial feel to the tasting room.

“We have timber in the buildings… the timber holds up these eco-friendly panels,” he said. “The timber frame made it easy to support these panels without having an ugly structure. To continue on the industrial feel, we used a lot of black iron.” The eco-friendly panels help with heat retention and the building’s overall economy.

The building is one of intent. The windows face the vineyard. Sannino referred to the windows as a “nanowall.”

“It folds up to one side, so the concrete floor opens up to a concrete patio.” To this end, the indoors becomes one with the outdoors, a marriage of form and function. “Visually,” he said, “we’re inviting the outdoor feel to the inside, no matter where you are in the building. It has sort of a chic industrial feel to it.” That feel, Sannino said, is part of his hallmark. What he regards as his style is a type of dynamism. “I don’t want to be a stagnant winemaker. My style is endless creativity. There’s a theme [to my work], and the theme is the creativity. There’s a resemblance between the building and my wine.”

The tasting room can officially host up to 12 private events per year, and the Sanninos plan to host smaller events, like “more intimate weddings” and other types of gatherings. Since they have no kitchen, they serve, instead, curated cheese and chocolate platters.

“That’s what we’re legally allowed to do with our farm winery license,” Sannino said.

The outdoor space at Sannino Vineyard’s new tasting room offers a view of the vineyard. Dana Shaw photo

For the fall, the tasting room is open seven days a week, beginning at 11 a.m. and running until 6 p.m. on weekdays and 7 p.m. on weekends. Winter hours have not yet been decided, and Sannino said that he and Lisa have discussed the possibility of closing for a few days midweek during the slower months, although they may not, since they will be on-premise regardless.

As for what the future holds, this much is certain: Approved for the maximum for a bed-and breakfast in the town of Southold (five rooms), Sannino Vineyard will one day be greeting even more guests at their home. Has the opening of the tasting room lived up to his long-awaited expectations?  Sannino says that it has. Recently, he said, a visiting couple was able to stay at the property and visit the tasting room, where they enjoyed a complementary cheese board. With the property now merged, it was the very vision of agriturismo that the Sanninos had been hoping for.