When Bo DiBuono slides a shot-glass-size sample of his Manor Sangria across the table at the farm markets of Morning Glory, Muscoot, Pleasantville, and TaSH, he gets a natural high watching the fast smiles and nodding heads of his customers. It’s a vicarious way to enjoy his crisp, crimson creation because, as he admits: “I’ve never tasted it… I’m allergic to apples and peaches” — fruits that are quintessential to authentic sangria.
The son of a luncheonette and concession-stand owner, DiBuono has an abiding trust in his ability to blend ingredients together. “I’m from a big, Italian family, and food has always been at the center of my life.” As a kid in Larchmont, he was “pulled out of bed” on Saturday mornings to go work with his dad. And although he studied finance at Iona, his father’s footsteps loomed large; at one point, DiBuono was running the concessions at every club along the Sound in Larchmont and Mamaroneck.
It was there, on a sultry summer evening, that along with requests for cold beer or a splash of rosé, DiBuono was asked if he had any sangria. “I had never made sangria; I never drank sangria,” he says. But, he loves a challenge.
DiBuono went to work, studying this foreign brew, enlisting friends as taste testers and eventually crafting an original recipe he started serving at club events. “The feedback was overwhelming,” he says. It was just as positive in a dusty school gym, when he sold 500 jars at a holiday fundraiser — without sand and surf to enhance the urge.
Word of mouth spread through Lower Westchester, and before long, social media was abuzz every time “Sangria Man” came to town with a new batch of Mason jars brimming with this fresh, intoxicatingly delicious beverage.
An entirely one-man operation from start to sip, the foundation of DiBuono’s drink is a Pinot Noir from New York, with no added sugar or liqueurs (triple sec and brandy being the usual syrupy suspects). “It’s a really clean, elegant sangria,” he says. Fruit is hand-selected from local farms, cut into tiny, laser-perfect cubes, then infused for 30 days. “I let the wine and fruit work together, to get that robust yet balanced flavor.” The magic happens at his home, a fully licensed winery.
In tune with the seasons, Manor Sangria is offered in a Classic Blend, with crisp apples, oranges, and lemons, and a Holiday Blend, which includes cranberries and the infusion of cinnamon stick. Ripe peaches make an appearance come springtime.
True to his moniker, DiBuono remains the sole sentinel of his successful, crowd-pleasing process. It’s a secret, even to his foodie father and his big, Italian family.