Wine byproduct ‘an oasis for the skin’

05/27/2010 12:00 AM |

Jenifer Pappo of Middle Island (left) gets a skin treatment using Petit Verdot Repair Serum from Mary Allmaras, owner of Vindu Skincare, at Martha Clara’s vineyard tasting room recently. The winery, where the product line was unveiled, provides the wine base for Ms. Allmaras’ products.

Skin care products and North Fork wineries do not necessarily go hand in hand.

But Mary Allmaras says that the same antioxidants found in red wine can rejuvenate a sun-damaged and aging face.

That’s why she created the North Fork Vin du Skin line, an all-natural skin care system based on the byproducts of Long Island vino.

“It creates this unbelievable oasis for your skin,” she said of her product, which launched May 8 at Martha Clara Vineyard in Riverhead.

Ms. Allmaras, a Southold native who now lives in Manorville, said she was dissatisfied with the array of skin care products sold at drug stores and upscale department stores.

What bugged Ms. Allmaras, who has worked as a fashion and beauty photographer, the most about mass-marketed products was their reliance on chemicals and preservatives, some of which she said could affect the endocrine system. She was especially worried about propylene glycol, a substance that’s used in antifreeze as well as in many cosmetics.

“When I started seeing propylene glycol as the second ingredient, I thought, it can’t be good,” she said.

A nurse with a background in chemistry, Ms. Allmaras invented a formula using only natural ingredients — the same grapes used to make North Fork wine. She said she has deep roots in wine country. Her grandfather, Paul Kaloski, helped farm the Hargrave family’s first North Fork vineyard in the 1970s, she said.

Martha Clara donates the pomace — what remains of grapes after pressing — and Ms. Allmaras blends that with kelp and oils that target mature and sun-damaged skin. She uses petit verdot and syrah varietals from Martha Clara’s 2009 harvest to make her serum and exfoliant.

The serum is safe for the face and can be used near the eyes. The exfoliant contains grape seeds, soil and pieces of grapevine twigs. The all-natural ingredients give the products an earthy aroma, which may smell slightly strange to someone who’s used to the scent of chemical-based products.

Loretta Reese, tasting room manager at Martha Clara, said the vineyard decided to partner with Ms. Allmaras because the all-natural ingredients jibe with its image. So far, there have been nothing but positive reviews, she added.

When it comes to wine and skin care, “Generally, people might not put it together,” Ms. Reese said. “I think that is where the fascination lies.”

Skin care is of the utmost importance to Ms. Allmaras, who lost a sister to malignant skin cancer and whose own skin, she admitted, is sun-damaged.

“I’m 50 and I’ve really noticed a change,” she said of using her own product.

Leslie Esposito stopped by Martha Clara for the product kickoff to support Ms. Allmaras, who is a friend. She said she was surprised by the products’ effectiveness.

“I actually see a difference and it’s thrilling me,” said the 49-year-old Ms. Esposito. It’s “like a dewy, younger look.”

The entire North Fork Vin du Skin line will be available at the winery and by contacting Ms. Allmaras at 924-2394 or [email protected]

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