Schapiro’s Wine Business Revived by Great Grandson [EXCLUSIVE]

Posted on: June 24th, 2013 at 5:23 am by
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[Photo: Daniel Schapiro]The wine you could “almost cut with a knife” is making a big comeback. Six years after business ceased, former Lower East Side institution Schapiro’s Wine is undergoing a reboot with great-grandson Daniel Schapiro at the helm (Sam started the business in 1899). The rebranding includes a host of new products and an updated logo. The goal is to sell the first product early next year.

We had a chance to speak with Daniel Schapiro about the revival which is to “combine old-world tradition with new-world chutzpah.”

BOWERY BOOGIE: Schapiro’s Wine has been out of the game since 2007.  What’s the story behind the revival of the brand and family business?

DANIEL SCHAPIRO: I never had the opportunity to be part of the company and part of keeping the legacy alive, which I have always admired about family businesses.  My grandfather “Sonny” retired from the winery, and none of his three sons went into the business, even though they “grew up” working in the winery.  The only connection I ever had was drinking the wine, old stories and occasional visits to the Lower East Side. This opportunity finally presented itself and I see this as my chance to sort of “reignite” the small spark that still exists and bring Schapiro’s to a new generation.

BB: What should customers expect from the new Schapiro’s product?

DS: We won’t be doing just wine.  They should expect unique, great-tasting, fun Kosher products celebrating the legacy of Schapiro’s and the history of the Lower East Side.  We also want to incorporate Jewish pop culture into our branding and combine old-world tradition with new-world chutzpah.  This is a perfect time to bring back old brands. Baby boomers have grown nostalgic for the brands they grew up with.  Also, the typical Kosher consumer is not your “bubbie.”  It is a 25-year-old college graduate, working at her first full time job and keeping Kosher in her first home. “Kosher” has become one of the most popular food labels in the country and there is a demand for greater diversity of Kosher food and beverage products.

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[Photo: Ted Barron]BB: Will there be a brick-and-mortar store to accompany the launch?

DS: There are no plans for any type of brick-and mortar store, but you never know!

BB: Were there any internal rights issues with the family on reviving the brand?

DS: No

BB: Last month, a new bar-restaurant called Schapiro’s opened on the Rivington block once dominated by the Schapiro’s empire. Are there any business ties to this new venture?

DS: This was just coincidental to our project, but the timing is perfect.  We think it is fantastic that they chose Schapiro’s as the name of their restaurant to ultimately honor the history of the Lower East Side.  I was there recently on a visit and they have really captured something special with the decor and the menu.  David Shemesh’s concept aligns directly with what we are trying to do with our products and targeting this “New Kosher” trend taking place as I explained above.  They hung some of our family photos that we supplied throughout the restaurant, which is great as well.

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BB: Any unique Lower East Side stories about growing up in the Schapiro’s Wine empire?

DS: Not sure if I would call it an empire…lol…maybe to our family!  I grew up with all kinds of stories…good, bad, happy, sad.  The best thing is that memories from other people still live on today.  My father-in-law here in Florida actually had a patient come in recently who worked in the winery.  Also, a few weeks ago on YouTube, I found a video from a guy filming the mural and at the same time talking to his father in the background about how his father drove a Schapiro’s delivery truck with a giant wine barrel on it making deliveries after he finished his regular job (video below).  He goes on explaining how he would also drive his kids and nephews around in it on the weekends.  I never knew a truck like this existed! The greatest thing is that I now have the chance to honor my grandfather, one of the greatest influences in my life, and the Schapiro’s name in my own way.

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