I get dozens of promotional emails from New York wineries each week. I can’t read them all, honestly, but it does help keep me abreast of the goings on in New York wine country. Last week, something really stuck out as I was scanning my inbox.

Here’s a sampling of recent subject lines:

“NEWS: 2013 Riesling Released”
“Ship Wine Today for Mother’s Day – Or Visit the Winery”
“The Whites of <Winery Name> Tasting”
“Don’t Miss Our 28th Anniversary Sale”
“Free Case Shipping from <Winery Name> Today”
“Taste Our New Wines at Brooklyn Uncorked”

Now, what do these have in common? It’s not a trick question. They are about wine — and as well they should be. These are wineries after all and one should assume that they are in the business of selling wine.

This recent subject line isn’t about wine at all, and perhaps that’s why I stopped and took a closer look :

“Walk Out On Your Husband This Thursday!”

I used to work in digital marketing and appreciate a well-crafted subject line or headline — something that will get people to open your email within an overflowing inbox — more than most. This headline obviously worked. I opened the email and was presented with this:


Not something I expect from a winery, certainly.

Like it or not, agritourism is a part of Long Island wine country now and for the foreseeable future. It’s a difficult business and while it’s not the experience I’m after, if a winery needs to have live music, food and other non-wine attractions in their tasting rooms to make their operation sustainable, that’s their right. I don’t want to see any local wineries close their doors and shutter their windows.

That said — does this look like a winery to you? I’d expect this sort of poster on the front window of a bar, not a winery. This is just one example, of course, but it’s an obvious one.

Before you accuse me of being a snob (maybe I am) or a curmudgeon (yup, maybe that too), keep reading for moment.

The Long Island wine industry sometimes likes to complain about local government and the controls and regulations it tries to impose. Often, I agree with the wine industry — because, again, it’s a hard business and winery owners and operators should have options.

I don’t think operating your winery as a bar should be one of those options, however.

Privately or publicly, almost everyone I know in the Long Island industry dislikes how Vineyard 48 is run — more like the Boardy Barn than a tasting room. Is what Baiting Hollow Farm Vineyard is doing with wine-a-ritas and this flavor of marketing all that different? Bars have ladies nights, winery tasting rooms shouldn’t.

Ultimately, this has very little impact on my experience in Long Island wine country. I don’t frequent wineries where wine quality matters so little because there are still enough wineries who do care about making great wine. And I certainly don’t recommend these bar-style wineries to my friends the handful of strangers who email me asking for advice every week.

That’s not Long Island wine country. Not mine, anyway. Unfortunately, ‘my’ Long Island wine is likely to be impacted when local and state government inevitably starts to crack down on these sorts of non-winery activities. It’s hard to know what the landscape will look like when that happens.