The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

December 1, 2012

No wine till it’s time: Local partners wait patiently for vintages to mature

Dave Sutor

JOHNSTOWN — Chip Brill and Rich Lamm are patiently waiting for all the reds, whites and blushes fermenting in the back room of their business at 900 Broad St. in Johns­town to let them know when it is finally time to open the doors to B&L Wine Cellars.

The co-owners started making the 2,200 gallons of wine earlier this year, while, at the same time, converting a former mechanics shop into a little corner store.

Now, the wines are almost done and ready to be bottled. But they still need to wait ... just a little bit longer.

“We would like to be open before Christmas, but the wine’s not going to be ready,” said Lamm. “It clears on its own schedule. We only got one chance at making a first impression, so we’re going to make sure it’s right. We’re hoping January, but that could slip, too.

“It might be a soft opening. I don’t think we’ll have the reds ready. I think we could have the Fredonia, the Steuben and Elvira. We could have a sweeter red done.”

The two Johnstown residents decided to open the cellar after becoming award-winning home winemakers.

“Our hobbies got out of control, so we decided to try this,” Lamm said.

Brill and Lamm plan to sell seven varieties of wine, ranging from aromatic whites fermented in stainless steel to deep reds matured in oak barrels, mostly all made from Pennsylvania produce.

Some bottles are expected to cost less than $20.

They also want to offer cheeses and wine-drinking accessories.

“Our main focus is to make wine that people want to drink,” Brill said.

Once opened, B&L Wine Cellars will keep business hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The owners hope to quickly become integrated into the Cambria City community, possibly even working out some promotions with nearby businesses.

“I think Cambria City is a diamond in the rough,” Brill said. “There are good restaurants here. The churches now have places where they can have events. I think that being on a state road like this, being in Cambria City, is a win-win situation for everybody.”

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