Local wineries look into selling in state stores
Published: February 14, 2013
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Mike Masser, co-owner of one of five wineries in the county, says the possibility of selling more of his wine in state stores intrigues him.
"We are seriously going to consider it because we are always looking at expanding," said Masser of Benigna's Creek Vineyard and Winery, on Tuesday. He owns the winery at 1585 Ridge Road, Klingerstown, with his brother, Rick Masser.
On Jan. 10, the state Liquor Control Board and the Pennsylvania Winery Association announced the PA Preferred program. Beginning this summer, qualified wineries will be able to submit up to 10 of their wines to be sold at state Wine & Spirits Stores in the program. Of the state's 621 stores, 80 are targeted for the program. The wineries choose in which stores they would like to market their wine.
"We are currently working on the details with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board," Jennifer Eckinger, executive director of the Pennsylvania Winery Association, said Tuesday.
Exact details will be available late spring, she said.
"In order to be a PA Preferred winery, the winery must use PA grapes to the maximum extent possible, given seasonal restrictions and market availability," Samatha Krepps, press secretary for the state Department of Agriculture, said in an email Tuesday.
Stacy Kriedeman, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, said the initiative is an attempt to bring more choice to the consumer. She confirmed details were not finalized yet Wednesday.
"We have sold Pennsylvania wines for a long time. This program is more about expanding the selection of Pennsylvania wines," she said.
Almost 100 wines from the state are sold in various state store locations, she said.
Three of those wineries in the program are in Schuylkill County. They include Benigna's, Long Trout Winery, Auburn, and Galen Glen Vineyard and Winery, Andreas.
Kriedeman said no wines from the five wineries in the county are sold at state stores. The other two wineries in the county are Red Shale Ridge Vineyards, Hegins, and Stone Mountain Wine Cellars, Pine Grove.
On average, Benigna's sells 125,000 to 150,000 bottles of wine a year, Masser said, with the top selling wine being BC Red.
Benigna's features 20 different wines for purchase and has an expansive deck where customers can lounge. Long Trout Winery has more than 30 wines to choose from. Galen Glen also has a wide variety of wines to purchase. Each winery also has events during the year.
Twelve acres of land are devoted to growing grapes at Benigna's. The first two acres of grapes were planted in 1999. Vidal, Seyval and Cayuga, all white grapes, were the first ones planted. Benigna's started selling wine Sept. 1, 2001.
Masser said he didn't know if the winery would participate in the program because he did not have sufficient information about it.
Right now, the wine from Benigna's is sold in five different locations: the Schuylkill Mall, Frackville; the Lycoming Mall, Lycoming; Susquehanna Valley Mall, Selingsgrove; the Hometown Farmers Market and Gratz Farmers Market, he said.
Long Trout Winery and Galen Glen and Winery did not return calls for comment.
Gov. Tom Corbett's proposal to privatize the state liquor stores will not affect the effort, Kriedeman said.
"The plan does not change any initiative or effort of the PLCB at this time," she said.
The governor's plan to privatize the stores will be done over a period of years and provide money in the form of a grant to schools.