TIM KELLY PHOTO
What’s in there? Working security, Wayne Sailor (left) checks the contents of coolers carried by visitors to Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue Saturday afternoon.
He’s not big and beefy, he’s not possessed of a menacing mien and he doesn’t stand stone-faced behind mirrored shades in a one-sided stare-down contest. If you perchance happened to meet Wayne Sailor at a local winery, it would be easy to assume he’s just another staffer. But he doesn’t pour Sauvignon blanc, nor will he recommend a Riesling.
Ah, but try to sneak in a cooler full of Heineken as a live band plays out by the vines and you’ll soon learn exactly what he does.
Mr. Sailor is the owner of Platinum Executive Security, and these days you’ll find him or a member of his team stationed at the entrance to any of six wineries. They’re not bouncers, but they do ensure that vineyard visitors, particularly those arriving by bus or limo, follow state liquor laws that prohibit bringing in any outside alcohol, even wine from a neighboring vineyard.
“I’m the first person they see when they come to the winery,” said Mr. Sailor, a Mattituck resident in the employ of the Peconic Bay, Corey Creek, Pindar, Martha Clara, Bedell and Macari wineries. Other wineries sometimes seek his services during special events.
“It’s very subtle,” he said. “They want it to be very low key, soft security. They don’t want it to be like when the president comes to town.”
Last week some area wineries came under fire from a few local restaurateurs, who claimed some of the vineyards are blatantly violating both state alcohol law and town code limits by providing meals, not just snacks, and by turning a blind eye to customers bringing in alcoholic beverages. Mr. Sailor said he and his staff check every cooler carried in and turn aside all containing anything but water and soft drinks.
“People are creative,” he said. “A lot of people say they don’t drink wine. They’re always looking for ways to bring outside alcohol in, mainly beer.”
Someone drinking from a red plastic cup “is a huge red flag,” Mr. Sailor added.
Many apparently aren’t trying to pull a fast one, they just aren’t aware of the rules. When a limo pulls up, a security staffer will check the reservations with the driver and examine any coolers. Intoxicated people are turned away, and anyone who becomes intoxicated is asked to leave. So far, there’s been no need to call the police.
“That would be the last resort,” said Mr. Sailor.
A driver bringing in what is euphemistically called “overly served” visitors is reported to the limo company.
“We’re very diligent about that,” he said. “We definitely don’t want that atmosphere. We follow it to the letter to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We want people to come and relax. We don’t have room for rowdy groups.”
On a typical Saturday, Platinum will post two security people at each winery. “It’s very subtle,” said Mr. Sailor. “We generally try to look like we’re part of the staff.” For example, while working at Peconic Bay Winery this past weekend, Mr. Sailor and an assistant both wore the same Peconic Bay-blue polo shirts as the pouring staff.
“We don’t have people standing there with their arms crossed in ‘Security’ shirts,” he said. “We’re not bouncers. We’re looking to keep everything friendly.”
Some of his employees have law enforcement experience, some are schoolteachers, all are state-certified security guards. No one carries a weapon. Before opening his own company, Mr. Sailor was an executive bodyguard in East Hampton for Ron Perlman, the majority stockholder of Revlon cosmetics. He’s also worked as a seasonal police officer in Southampton Town.
“I’m very happy to be involved in this operation,” he said of his winery work. “You want to send out a positive vibe. We want everybody who comes here to tell their friends that they had a good time.”