DeMarsico's Wine Cellar Opens Tasting Room in the Norad Mill
The "cellar" is now situated on the second floor of the Norad Mill, giving the winery plenty of space for production, retail and wine tastings.
"And we have windows," laughed Cheryl DeMarsico.
Cheryl and her husband, Glen, started making wine as a hobby but as demand for their product grew — and they scored some awards — they opened for business in the basement at 28 Marshall St., in a room below Grazie Italian Ristorante, about a year and a half ago.
The cellar was just enough room for production, and had no windows. They held tastings at other venues around the area and sold to local distributers. But there was a limit on their ability to reach the public. Moving into the Norad Mill was a chance to grow their retail business, to meet customers and have a place of their own.
"This was our five-year plan and it happened in a year," said Glen. "We kicked it around for like two days and we were like, why are we hesitating, this is the perfect opporunity."
The couple now have more than triple the amount of production space, with plenty of room for kettles, shelfing and storage, and a spot for bottling, labeling, foiling and boxing.
"It's like a little production line," said Glen. "We could double production if we pushed, we could easily do 800 gallons more."
Just as important is the light-filled tasting room filled with an assortment of seating, unique tables and bric-a-brac the couple scouted out. It's a little bit industrial, a nod to the historic mill it calls home, but also very obviously a place to enjoy a glass of wine.
The views look south toward Brayton and the mountains. Tunnel City Roasters had already taken the end of the building and when the DeMarsico's were asked which side they wanted, Cheryl was quick to pick the south facing windows.
"It's the atmosphere and the light," she said. "And the view is just beautiful."
The DeMarsicos said they're glad they moved quickly because they might not have gotten the space. The mill is nearly 80 percent committed, owner David Moresi recently said. The winery has a number of neighbors, including the coffee roasters, a psychotherapist, and a carpenter, among others.
The room can hold about 25 so Cheryl said it could also be used for receptions or showers. They're also hoping to schedule some paint & sip events. They will also have two programs, a members club with discounts and special tastings and a tasting club that will offer a deal after buying so many bottles.
They've also been able to branch out more with their fruit and grape wines. They've added a peach wine, a strawberry mead, a sauvignon blanc, sangrias and, soon, a pinot noir. The sauvignon blanc features an image of the Norad Mill in its heyday. Another product was inspired by a friend's wine mixing.
The strawberry and blueberry blend was created sitting around a fire at their house so, of course, it's called Fireside Wine, with a label featuring a campfire, Adirondack chairs and and a birch-tree background.
"We hope it's going to be a good seller, we made a lot of it," Glen said. They said they listen to their customers and have adjusted some of their wines based on feedback.
Their friend, Gordon Tower, also made the bar and storage area that fills one corner of the room. Glen said he had an idea of what he wanted and Tower was able to put it together in a few days — and in pieces that could be fit together to get it up the freight elevator to the second floor.
The DeMarsicos spent some time visiting other wineries last summer to see how they operated and to get a feel of what they could accomplish.
"We spoke to three or four different estate owners," Glen said. "These are big, they've got 3,000-4,000 acres all in the Northern Virginia area. We talked to them about marketing, just everything in general — how to do a tasting room, what sells, what doesn't sell. ...
"We're using what we think will work for this area."
The tasting room is holding a soft opening beginning this weekend and from noon to 6 each weekend through the spring. A grand opening is planned in April with events and the couple will be adjusting hours for the summer to stay open later on Fridays and Saturdays.
Directions: The Norad Mill is located at 60 Roberts Drive; park in the back and enter through the dock door on the west side, go straight up the stairs, take a right and then a left. Look for the balloons and signs.
Tags: norad mill, tastings, winery,
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