Monday, February 9, 2009

Blue Mountain additions pleasing to the eye

Vickie Greff paused in the middle of the conversation. “Now where am I?” she asked out loud. “I was so busy talking to you I went right past my turn.”

Greff, co-owner with husband Joe of
Blue Mountain Vineyards & Cellars in New Tripoli, Pa., finally found an alternate route and doubled back to her destination – their shop at Reading Terminal Market in Philly – the other day and took care of business.

But en route we volleyed a few topics back and forth, starting with the two shops that the winery has opened in Giant Food stores
in South Hanover Township, in Hummelstown, and in the Philly suburb of Willow Grove. Both have been opened a couple of months and Greff said that she has been gratified by the feedback, the repeat business and the compliments.

“Our stores came out absolutely gorgeous,” she said. “People are just absolutely amazed at the kind of caliber of store we’ve put in. I used all Tuscan themea; I’m don’t know if you were ever in our Reading Terminal store, but it’s kind of our look. It’s kind of a terra cotta color with a lot of earth tones in it and very dark mahogany type cabinetry, and it’s all new, so the bar is absolutely beautiful. You walk in and you feel like you’re in a bar, not a wine shop. Yet the wine is all wrapped on the racks. It came out gorgeous, it really did.”

Enter any of Blue Mountain’s satellite’s shop and you’ll find many of the same color schemes; in fact, Greff said she’s planning at some point this year to do a face-lifting at the winery to capture the look of the other shops. “All of my stores have that look, that continuity,” she said.

At this point there are two regional wineries that have worked with Giant to open these shops. Carl Helrich, with
Allegro Vineyards in the Brogue, Pa., was the first one to open a shop in a Giant, putting one in the Enola store late last fall. He said business has been brisk, and that it has been distinguished by how much dry red wine he was selling, at least compared to how much leaves his winery in southern York County. Greff said the Willow Grove shop has sold a lot of dry reds but, overall, no more so than at the winery. “As far as the winery, we sell a lot of dry reds,” she said. “We stress that. We’ve developed our business on that, on dry reds. Do we sell sweet wines? Absolutely. Do we sell tons of Victoria’s Passion? Absolutely. I do think we sell a ton of dry reds in Willow Grove, but we also sell a lot of dry reds at our Reading Terminal stores and also at our winery. Definitely, we sell a lot of dry reds at our winery. But is that our most popular? No. We still sell a lot of blush, a lot of Victoria’s Passion, a lot of Sangria. We just came out with our Sangria again. Things like that, we sell tons of. Those are our biggest sellers.”

Any of their wines is fair game for something that Giant sells. Greff said she recently made a braised beef dish at one of their shops and paired it with their Chambourcin, then provided customers with the ingredients that they could purchase in the grocery store. “The store loves it,” she said. “I’m planning on doing something with the bakery for Valentine’s Day. You want to show Giant that you are promoting their business as well as your own. It’s not all one way or one-sided. That’s what they’re seeing . . . I’m trying to do things and help us both have a partnership, and that’s how I approach it, to have a partnership.”

On some other fronts:

* A timetable for those renovations at her winery? “I don’t know,” she said. “I had hoped to get it done in time for March Madness, but I don’t think it’s going to happen now.”
* Valentine’s weekend celebration at the winery? “We always get a very good turnout for our music on Valentine’s Day weekend. And we doing brownies with raspberry topping and we have a dollar off on our Victoria’s Passion for the whole month of February, and that goes with the chocolate.” Music at the winery is every Sunday afternoon, from 2 to 5 p.m.
* Greff is president of the
Lehigh Valley Wine Trail, which is made up of nine wineries. Planning to add any new ones? “We haven’t yet. There are some people who have their feelers out asking us, but we haven’t decided to do it.”

No comments: