The Ethical Cellar: Wine Retailer Kimberly Ruth Cavoores Is in the Right Place at the Right Time
Kimberly Ruth Cavoores has a wine and spirits shop in Greenport, N.Y. For reasons discussed later, she prefers to call her space a “studio.” Breaking even more traditions, she’s named it One Kourt, a reference to a location in Boston where she met her boyfriend, Paul. The location formerly housed a liquor store, and her predecessor’s old-school sign still hangs on the outside, but what is inside, to put it mildly, is a radical experience in wine retailing.
Greenport, on the northeastern fork of Long Island, is also experiencing radical change. Once a prosperous fishing and whaling town, with a direct fresh oyster-bearing rail link to New York City, Greenport’s heyday was around 1880. Since then, it suffered serious decline…until youthful hipsters from Manhattan, Brooklyn and beyond discovered its charms, including a wide range of architecturally interesting houses, large and small, an accessible waterfront, proximity to the vineyards of the North Fork and, best of all, service by train and bus from the city. Once there, no car is needed. You can bike or walk to everything.
Montauk has become world famous as the new trendy surf capital of the Hamptons. Greenport is the Montauk of the North Fork. Almost every hotel and restaurant has changed into way cooler hands, including 150-year-old Claudio’s, which was one of the oldest family run restaurants in the country.
Kimberly sat down with Worth in her Main Street store and recalled how her passion for wine started in college. She majored in communications but loved working in restaurants. They loved her back. She worked in the best of the best in New York—storied places like Terroir, Hearth, Marseille, Café D’Alsace, Maialino, Marta and Blue Hill at Stone Barns. That means she observed how legends like Paul Grieco, Danny Meyer and Dan Barber approach wine and food.
Continuing her education, she did “cellar stages” in Australia and California. “That taught me how complicated the winemaking process really is,” she told us.
“It was a romantic relationship that brought me out East,” she explained. “We had been coming here for years and found opportunities that evolved in a very serendipitous way, like the owner of this store wanted to retire, and I always intended to promote wines that were ‘agriculturally focused.’ I do that now by knowing every wine here is either organic, biodynamic or naturally made.”
With its absence of interior signage, One Kourt feels like a studio. That means no red, white or rosé sections, no country of origin, no varietal groupings, because Kimberly wants “customers to engage with me, to tell me what they are thinking or what they want to learn about.” Not everyone is comfortable with this, but she said, “Only a handful of people politely walk out.”
The younger, trendy wine consumers need no introduction to orange wine or pét-nat. “For them, it is just a fun conversation—‘try this or have you had that’ interactions. Together, we can really talk about the grower, vintner or shipper.”
Kimberly stocks 300 to 350 wines and 50 spirits. “Of course, we have customers looking to bring a simple rosé to a friend’s dinner,” she explained. “I have an organic wine solution in their price range. There are some fantastic Provencal rosés that fit the bill.” Clearly this is a win for everyone—the buyer, Kimberly and the earth.
Because of her reputation, she has customers asking her to help stock an entire cellar. “My goal is to really open up wine lovers’ minds to the very best vintages and ethical winemakers in order to create a complete all-season cellar, full of surprises and delight instead of familiar old-school bottles.”
She hosts a monthly, informal wine seminar limited to five attendees. “The interest in earth-healing wines is growing, and some people really want to get an intensive understanding,” she said. “It’s fun. I like giving back the knowledge I have gleaned over the decades.”
One Kourt is not focused on local wines, but there are a few new “garagistas” (garage winemakers) who are producing amazing bottles. One is cantina-cantina, a single vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, old vine, hand harvested, whole cluster pressed, barrel fermented, native yeast, unfined, non-filtered wine…only 55 cases produced. “I think we are only at the beginning of a vinting revolution here on the North Fork,” Kimberly explained. “Also, established cellars like Macari send us delightful wines.”
Regarding spirits, One Kourt goes out of its way to find and sell really unique liquors. “My boyfriend is COO of local Matchbook Distilling Co.,” she said. “They recently released a rum, Some Night in Autumn, made with molasses mashed with dunder and then double pot distilled…with a 22-pound free-range local turkey, as is done in Oaxaca. It was a big seller.”
So, the little shop on Main Street in Greenport, One Kourt, is in the right town at the right time and certainly with the right proprietor. Keep an eye on Kimberly Ruth Cavoores as she does it the right way—naturally.