After a long, cold winter, a wet and rainy spring, and months and months of social distancing and isolation, what better time to get outside and enjoy a tour of local wineries?
The Wooden Door Winery has two locations; a main, year-round winery in Vandergrift and a seasonal location in Allegheny Township. Former middle school physical education teacher Jeff Pollick opened the doors to the main location in 2010, the satellite location in 2017.
“All of my stars aligned, and I decided to go for it,” he said.
The main winery is housed in a former church that was built in 1896. It was renovated to house the winery, keeping many of the features of the church, including its stained glass windows. The centerpiece of the venue is a chandelier that Pollick created that holds up to 860 bottles. “It’s a real showstopper,” Pollick said.
The Allegheny Township site offers both indoor and outdoor seating and is situated on 10 acres, creating the feel of a California wine estate, according to Pollick. It is his goal to create wines that can’t be found in local state stores. Using Pennsylvania fruits, he creates more than 30 wines and ciders.
“We are pretty unique as we have a lot of blends,” he said of both his wines and ciders. “I really enjoy playing around and producing different offerings. There is always something different.”
He adds that there are numerous events at both locations (seasonal at Allegheny Township location) including tastings, music, and spa days. Private events can also be hosted at each location.
Pollick has never looked back on his career change. “We have a lot of weekly regulars that I’m happy to see, but we also love seeing new customers. I’m really grateful,” he said.
Both locations serve full menus, and families are welcome. Pollick encourages guest to check out their Facebook page and website for events, wine offerings and food menu at https://woodendoorwinery.com.
Refucilo Winery started like many wineries do—from a home winemaker who decided to expand. Juan Lora and his wife, Cecilia, originally moved to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic so he could finish his medical studies.
“He entered an amateur wine contest once and won a medal, and that’s when he got it in his head that he would really like to own a vineyard,” Cecilia Lora explained.
On a 25th wedding anniversary trip to Argentina, the couple discovered the concept of managed vineyards. In summer 2016, the couple visited two managed vineyards and decided to purchase five acres at Casa de Uco Vineyard, in the Uco Valley in Mendoza, Argentina.
“We chose them because we agreed with their philosophy in wine making, which is to have our wines be a true reflection of the terroir, and that’s when the adventure began,” she said.
The couple opened their winery at 907 Western Avenue in the North Side in December 2018. Several Argentinian wines are offered at their small shop. “We are in constant communication with our team in Casa de Uco. Our wine is made there and shipped to us,” Lora said.
In addition to their wines, Refucilo serves tapas and small bites to complement the wine tastings and offers live music twice a month. In warmer months, guests can enjoy outdoor seating.
“We encourage reservations because we’re a small place. We always strive to provide the best service to our customers,” said Lora. To learn more, visit www.refucilo.wine.
A magazine article was the impetus behind the Michael Stephen Kavic Winery. As Patricia and Michael Kavic were enroute from a work trip to Italy in late 2005, Patricia picked up a magazine on the airplane and read about urban wineries. An urban winery is one that is not situated on a vineyard.
“I woke Michael up and said, ‘This is what we need to do,’” she explained.
Like Dr. Lora, the Kavics were amateur winemakers, a hobby that they enjoyed. They also owned a building that Patricia’s father had built for Michael’s medical practice that was at the time unused.
“I told him that I found a use for the building,” Patricia said.
Back home, the couple began their research and soon put their plan for an urban winery into motion. They received their winery license in 2007 and opened the winery located in Carnegie in 2009.
Since that time, they have expanded to a five-acre vineyard which they operate with Patricia’s brother, Patrick Fleck, Jr. and his wife, Amy, where they have begun to grow their own grapes for winemaking. Deep Valley Vineyard pays homage to Patricia and Patrick’s parents, who owned the property and called it Deep Valley.
The team planted grapes in 2016 and currently are aging their first production from the vineyard, “Marquette,” which they will soon serve. With an offering of 14 wines, the Kavics welcome guests to the winery for tastings.
“We are a small family winery and make small batches,” Michael said. All of the juices used in their wines are local to Pennsylvania.
Private parties and wine education classes are also offered by reservations. To learn more, visit www.kavicwinery.net.
More Flights of Fancy
Founded in 2001, Narcissi Winery, is located in West Deer Township. Narcissi offers tastings and tours, events, and a full-service restaurant. The tours feature a visit to their vineyards, the wine production area where guests can see how they crush, press, ferment, filter, and bottle their wines, and a tasting of several Narcissi wines. Visit https://www.narcisiwinery.com/tours.
Mazzotta Winery is located in Richland Township, at the crossroads of Rt. 8 and Gibsonia Roads. Winemaker Frank Mazzotta opened in 2015 and specializes in small batch wines. There are over 20 varieties of wines offered for tastings and purchase. Visit http://www.mazzottawinery.com.
John Richuito opened Winfield Winery in Cabot in 2006. Winfield features over 30 wines. Richuito is particularly proud of their raspberry wines, including the yellow raspberry wine made at their Butler County location. For information about all of their wines, tastings, and events, visit https://www.winfieldwinery.com.
Deer Creek Winery is located in Shippenville, but they have a location in McCandless Crossing. Guests can sample six free tastings and Deer Creek Wines at this location. Visit https://www.deercreekwine.com.