An award-winning Bucks County winery seeks to expand its audience by debuting a Philadelphia-based store.
Main Street Wine Cellar opened its doors during the Manayunk Arts Festival. A month later the small, wine-first shop is finding its niche by exclusively offering wine from its owner—Crossing Vineyards, a Washington Crossing-based winery.
"We've always thought, 'Sure, Philadelphia, we need a place there.' But I think no where works as well with us as does Manayunk," said Tom Carroll, Sr., co-owner of Crossing Vineyards with his son, Tom, Jr., and wife, Christine.
With their son as vintner, the Carrolls founded the winery on their property in 2000. The winery itself grew, sold items commercially and hosted vineyard tours. Crossing Vineyards then began opening shops in New Hope, Wilkes-Barre and East Falls over the next decade. However, the latter location closed when the Market Place in East Falls shut its doors.
That's when Manayunk natives Larry and Debbi Milillo stepped in. The couple toured Crossing Vineyards and began to express interest in Carroll's expansion idea. After a stint selling wine at the Chestnut Hill Farmers' Market, Crossing Vineyards was ready to open on Main Street.
Located at 4386 Main St., the Wine Cellar opened with a small but elegant storefront. The shop services wine by the bottle or glass and gourmet cheese.
"It's a small store, but we wanted to see how we fit here. So far, it's been a success," Carroll, Sr. said.
The Milillos, with their daughter, Lindsay, staff the shop seven days a week—despite working other jobs. Larry, a printer, and Debbi, a nurse, hope they can one day work at the Main Street Wine Cellar full time.
Carroll, Sr. said the Milillos have helped Crossing Vineyards figure out the best way for it to serve Main Street.
"Our structure is having people know the area so we give the neighborhood what it wants. We're thrilled—it's been a great pairing so far," he said.
Debbi and Larry, who live in Lafayette Hill now, can recall a Manayunk in darker days.
"Main Street used to be all boarded up stores, and wine-os in the street. But we're so happy to be a part of it thriving. It's so active here," Debbi said.
The atmosphere is elegant but casual. Carroll, Sr. said Crossing Vineyards loves wine education, but seeks to "de-snoberize" wine and make it accessible.
"It's all about the experience. You are your own wine expert. If you feel the experience with us and the wine is enjoyable, that's fun. If not, then it's not enjoyable, not fun," he said.
Larry encourages people to grab food somewhere else and pop in—a BYOF shop. Additionally, Main Street Wine Cellar hopes people eating at BYOBs will stop by the shop first and grab a bottle, or two.
He recommends the Chocolate Cherry Truffle, which won gold at Keystone Wine Competition and bronze at the PA Farm Show Governor's Cup Competition. With 28 different wines, he says, "It's great to just come by, hang out and grab a taste."
The shop participates in First Friday events, monthly displays local art and plans on holding an official grand opening soon. Visit the Main Street Wine Cellar page on Manayunk.com for more information.