The Work We Do: George Eldi, Wines by Nature in Wading River

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My name is George Eldi and I own Wines By Nature here at The Shoppes at East Wind in Wading River. 

Waiting tables helped me get through college and I stayed waiting tables even though I had a college degree. I started working at the Seafood Barge in the mid-’90s and that’s where I really became introduced to wines. From there, I owned my own restaurant and from there, I was a sales rep. Prior to this for 17 years, I was a wine rep, selling to all the best stores and restaurants here in Suffolk County. When the opportunity came to open up a wine shop in a region where there really wasn’t a shop like this, I took advantage of it.

We are filling a niche between the Hamptons and western Suffolk. In this neighborhood, there’s not a really customer service-oriented small production wine and spirit shop. So, for those people who are looking for the customer service [and] really good value … we fill that void for them.

Our wines kind of rotate through the seasons. Rosé takes a spike during the summer time. The heartier reds during the winter, so we don’t really have one wine that dominates them all. Seasonally, we do different features and those tend to be the popular ones of the season. My desert island wine would probably be sparkling wine and Champagne. Our most popular category is New York State. Of course, the North Fork leads the way — Paumanok, Macari, Sparkling Pointe, Shinn, always come to mind as some of the favorite wines.

I’ve learned more drinking beers with winemakers than I did in any sommelier class. And what we really want to let people know about is, you go into a liquor store and you ask them about a wine, they’re going to tell you its popular, it’s nice. We know the people behind the wines, so, we actually have a connection with the wineries, with the people who make it. We’ve been to these regions. We know the people, the areas, the vineyards, so, we really get a chance to get to know the people behind the bottle. We’re friends helping friends. I always say, ‘I’m a small business that represents small businesses and I want to be part of their stories.’

“The Work We Do” is a News-Review multimedia project profiling workers around Riverhead Town.