Traveling Via JFK or LGA? Now You Can Take a Taste of New York with You

Travelers’ opportunities to buy local in both JFK and LaGuardia airports recently increased with the opening of TasteNY shops. We caught up with Brooklyn Oenology to learn more about the logistics and goals of the collaborative project.

It’s now even more possible that beloved Brooklyn-based McClure’s Pickles could be sitting among jars of cornichons in some French cupboards as a result of a recent move by the Cuomo administration.

Travelers’ opportunities to buy local New York food and drink products in both John F. Kennedy International (Terminal 2) and LaGuardia (Terminal C) airports have dramatically increased thanks to a deal between Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s TasteNY program, Brooklyn Oenology and OTG Management. The three groups recently opened a TasteNY shop in each airport that exclusively offers a rotating stock of over 200 New York State food and drink products.

These shops aren’t the first effort in promoting local foods in airports. Last October, the JetBlue terminal at JFK partnered with GrowNYC to bring a farmers market to Terminal 5. All the same, the innovative pop-up only lasted three days. The TasteNY shops instead hope to offer a more permanent celebration of what the governor calls “some of the best food and beverage producers in the world.”

We must say that we think that the project is off to a great start due in part to a collaboration with Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Oenology (which we featured in our summer 2011 issue). We recently caught up with owner/winemaker Alie Shaper to learn more about the logistics and goals of the partnership:

Edible Brooklyn: How did Brooklyn Oenology become involved with this project?

Alie Shaper: I originally saw the opportunity last year in an e-mail from the New York Wine and Grape Foundation. The New York State Department of Agriculture had put out a call for a New York farm winery to help curate these shops with local food and drinks, and I responded immediately. Our shop in Brooklyn already does what the call was asking for, so it seemed like a natural fit. Plans for the shops progressed quickly after we connected with the terminals’ concessionaire OTG Management.

EB: You say that your shop in Williamsburg was already doing what the governor’s office wanted. Surely there is a difference between being at your shop in Brooklyn and being in an airport though, right?

AS: As far as the products that we carry, there is no distinction between our winery and these shops. We feature the same products in all venues. However, the airports are naturally more focused on retail as compared to our winery since we are not allowed to do tastings without access to water.

EB: What local brands do you carry at both the winery and the shops?

AS: As for drinks, some examples off the top of my head include some selections of our own wine, Sparkling Pointe‘s bottles, Greenhook Ginsmiths, Slyboro’s Hidden Star cider and Keegan Ales. I could keep going, but we have over 200 beverages. As for food, we have McClure’s Pickles, Crown Maple syrup, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que sauce and a whole bunch of others that we rotate.

EB: Is there an opportunity for brands that are not in your winery shop to apply to be featured in the airport shops?

AS: There definitely will be. We’re still settling in to the shop since it opened a few weeks ago, but sometime during the first quarter, we will announce an application process for additional New York food and drink businesses.

EB: Are these shops the only spots in either JFK or LGA where travelers can find local products?

AS: OTG Management tries really hard to use local food and drink when they can. Several of the restaurants in both JFK’s Terminal 2 and LGA’s Terminal C feature local food and drinks.

EB: And what’s the reception been like during the first few weeks? Are travelers stopping in?

AS: The reception’s been great so far. We have this exceptional opportunity of bringing the best of the state to a couple of the world’s major gateways. Many people have a perception that the whole of New York is a concrete jungle, so they’re usually surprised to see such a diversity of local food and drink products. It’s a landmark opportunity to expose local products to a global audience.

Featured photo credit: Flickr / governorandrewcuomo

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Ariel Lauren Wilson

Lauren grew up on her family's farm in the North Carolina mountains. She now lives in New York and is the editor of Edible Manhattan and Edible Brooklyn.