Local Wine Coming to Local Liquor Stores

KELLY TOWNSHIP — Coming soon to a state store near you: wine made right here in Pennsylvania and perhaps not far from where you live.

Last year, Fero Vineyards and Winery near Lewisburg joined the growing number of wineries across the state.

Until now, most grape growers in PA have only been able to sell their red wines, white wines and everything in between at their wineries.

Now, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control board which runs state liquor stores has announced it will allow certain wineries to put their varietals in certain local state stores starting this summer.

“We’ve always hoped to someday be able to provide local wines to local people,” said Chuck Zaleski, owner of Fero Vineyards & Winery.

In order to be on the shelves in local state stores, wineries have to meet certain criteria.

Wine experts said the move could help enhance exposure for locally grown, locally made vino.

“Putting wines out on the shelves in retail outlets helps get consumers to see those labels and know there’s a winery right in their back yard,” said Denise Gardner, an enologist (wine expert) with the Penn State Cooperative Extension.

If Pennsylvania wineries want to put their wines in local liquor stores, it comes with a catch.

The PLCB takes about a 30% markup. And an 18% liquor tax which leaves the wine bottle, when it comes to profits, about half full.

Or half empty, depending on how much wine a winery can put on the shelves at state liquor stores.

“Without being able to produce large quantities or large volumes it would be difficult to be economically feasible for a lot of the smaller wineries,” said Bill Zimmerman of Shade Mountain Winery.

Still, winery owners agree, it’s always good to have another outlet where their wine is available to wine drinkers.