By Jeannette Sanderson How do you combine a love of family, a love of wine, and a love of Peekskill? If you’re Steven Zwick, co-owner of Dylan’s Wine Cellar with his wife, Maribel, you open a wine shop in your hometown and name it after your son.
“I always dreamed of owning a wine store focused on craft wines and spirits with minimal big brands popular in most liquor stores,” Zwick told the Peekskill Herald. After enjoying a career in banking for 15 years, the industry started changing in a way he no longer saw himself staying in long term.
“In 2011, we decided to take the leap and open Dylan’s Wine Cellar,” he said. “We have always enjoyed wine and are passionate about spirits and experimenting with cocktails. Having the opportunity to be in this industry has been the best decision we’ve made. And to be able to do this where I grew up and in the historical Standard House has been a dream.”
Steven, 41, lives and works this dream with his wife and his 16-year-son, the shop’s namesake. “Having a family business is awesome but also takes dedication, hard work and sacrifice!” Steven told us. “We are all involved and have been more so this year. While we closed for in-store shopping, we truly worked together to keep the store running, in true family business fashion.”
One way everyone in the family has pitched in during the pandemic has been with delivery. Steven described his delivery team as “consisting of my wife, son, and our dog, Hudson, who’s our spokesperson with his constant barking.”
There is a lot that Steven is looking forward to post-pandemic, including being able “to see one another again, entertain, and be with family and friends over a great bottle of wine.” He is also looking forward to holding wine-tasting events at the store again, and “seeing the smiles of our customers.”
Steven makes sure that his customers have a lot to smile about. The shop carries a selection of close to 450 different wines and more than 350 spirits that provide a wide selection covering everything from country, varietal, to price point.
How does Steven determine what wines to sell? “My focus is to support family-owned and operated wineries from around the world and source small production wines which deliver high quality at an affordable price,” he says.
Steven hasn’t been able to travel extensively in search of wines, but he has been able to travel some. “I’ve been fortunate to have visited a few key wine regions in Italy, Spain, and California since having the store,” he said. “I’m fortunate to work with a group of great wine importers with whom I taste and select wines for the store, many of whom share my passion for sourcing small production and family-owned products.”
Though it is a lot of work, Steven finds the business rewarding. Many of the shop’s customers are people he has known since he was young. Others are people who have become friends over the years since the shop opened.
One of the most rewarding things, Steven says, is “becoming a successful small business and a staple within the community.”
Community has been important since the beginning. “From the early stages of planning the opening of Dylan’s Wine Cellar, with my roots being in Peekskill, we knew we wanted to be a community business and support it in any way we could,” said Steven who graduated from PHS in 1998. Over the past ten years, Dylan’s has donated more than $15,000 to local organizations, mostly through the Spring Wine Tasting and Grand Tasting events the shop hosts each year.
Steven is quick to share credit for this generosity. “We are only able to give back because of our customers,” he said. “We owe our success to them and feel the only way to show our appreciation is to give back and be involved.”
When Steven and his family are not working at the store, or making deliveries, they take advantage of all that Peekskill has to offer. They go mountain biking and hiking in Blue Mountain. They visit the city’s parks and walk around downtown. They eat at local restaurants.
“One of my personal favorite things to do is to enjoy the peacefulness of the waterfront super early or late in the day, walking our dog when no one else is around,” Steven said.
Peekskill has grown a lot since Dylan’s first opened nearly ten years ago. “My family and I are proud of the organic progress Peekskill has made, especially within the past few years,” Steven said. “Peekskill has found its spot on the map. We have attracted an influx of great people and families that now call Peekskill their home.”
Dylan’s will celebrate its ten-year anniversary in April. During normal times, the shop would celebrate by hosting its annual spring wine tasting. This year will be different due to COVID. “We plan on something on a much smaller scale that will focus on customer appreciation,” Steven said. “Stay tuned!”
When asked to give a shoutout to the city where he lives and works, Steven said, “Peekskill rocks.” There are many who would say it rocks in large part due to people like him.