How Lieb Cellars Has Evolved Over 30 Years

Located in the North Fork of Long Island in New York, Lieb Cellars is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

While Lieb Cellars has certainly grown since 1992, one thing that’s changed over the past three decades is the winery’s definition of growth, said General Manager Ami Opisso. 

Previously, Lieb Cellars defined growth as simply increased production, but its definition is more complex now, Opisso explained.

“Now we take a more holistic and sustainable approach – growing is about becoming more efficient and profitable, growing our team and talents, expanding our distribution footprint, diversifying our sales channels and launching new or better wines and products,” Opisso said. “It’s cheesy, but it’s also about growing our appreciation for what we do and where we live.”

Opisso said Lieb Cellars’ business model, which includes owning Premium Wine Group, which includes the winery and a custom crush facility, has positively impacted its growth over the years. 

“Our capacity is 170,000 cases, so as Lieb’s annual production has grown from 2,000 to 30,000 over the years, we’ve just taken up more space at the winery,” Opisso said.

Winemaker Russell Hearn, a 35-year veteran of industry, and his producer connections have also aided in growth, as has development of a second label and attention to alternative packaging.

“As we’ve expanded our second label, Bridge Lane, outside of what could be done with our own fruit, we’ve relied on his relationships to source and secure the best fruit in New York State to supplement our own,” Opisso said. “Lieb and Bridge Lane bottles have always shown gradual growth. bag-in-box, kegs and cans have exploded and are the future of our company and, in my opinion, the industry.

Celebrating Thirty

One lesson Lieb Cellars’ team learned along the way was to stay true to its New York heritage.

“The biggest mistake made in Lieb’s history was importing and trying to sell Chilean wines alongside our own wines years back,” Opisso said. “We’re a New York winery and need to lean in and take pride in our wines and reputation. They stand on their own.

Now thirty years removed from its grand opening, Lieb Cellars said it continues to innovate by exploring hybrids, practicing new sustainability initiatives such as a new wastewater system and working on new product and brand development.

The anniversary celebrations include the release of its 30th Anniversary edition of Pinot Blanc.

The commemorative packaging is a reproduction of Lieb’s very first bottling of Pinot Blanc in 1992, the year the vineyard was founded by Mark and Kathy Lieb. The iconic Lieb “L” appears in gold script surrounded by a whimsical grapevine wreath, a contrast to the bold red Times New Roman “L” adorning the winery’s logo today.

“While brainstorming ways to celebrate the anniversary, we remembered the single bottle of 1992 Pinot Blanc in our library,“ Opisso said. “This bottle is treasured and rarely touched because it’s the only one left and such a special piece of our history.

“What’s crazy is that digital files didn’t exist back then. The label was hand drawn, and the only ‘file’ to work from was a print on acetate. We started from scratch and rebuilt the artwork and worked with our printer to match the paper and foils. It’s almost an exact match.”

The limited edition bottle will be for sale in Lieb’s tasting room and on its website until sold out.

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