Sessionable is an up-close look at libations destinations throughout the Pittsburgh region. Discover where to go and what to expect as you explore our city’s incredible adult beverage scene.
I was all of 24 years old and relatively new to Pittsburgh when I got an invitation to attend an event at the Lexus Club inside PNC Park just prior to the opening of another season of Buccos baseball. Upon arrival, I was informed there were several wine stations set up throughout the venue. Having been a pretty avid beer drinker and maintaining said badge of honor to this day, wine was unchartered territory for me…and I quickly discovered why. After three glasses, I couldn’t talk. I didn’t really feel drunk, per say. I was just horribly and awkwardly slurring about 98% of what I said.
So imagine my disdain when I found myself on a tour of the stadium and, as I attempted to engage our guide in conversation, produced complete audible mush. My takeaway was that I had blown a potentially great networking opportunity and, despite the fact that I felt the wine was pretty tasty, I should probably avoid it lest I be sitting at home by myself sans the need to act like a real human who needs to use his words.
As I’ve gotten older, my appreciation for wine has grown. I suppose we all reach a point where getting drunk isn’t really what it’s about anymore. Rather, it’s the enjoyment of quality adult beverages accompanied by moments with friends, colleagues, and loved ones. My upgrade in age has also reformed my reaction to wine as I no longer have to swallow my tongue while imbibing. Lord be praised.
That said, I still have a lot to learn when it comes to wine. Fortunately, I’ve never encountered a beverage I didn’t want to delve into deeper. Except La Croix water. That shit is nasty. So let’s delve, shall we?
Whether you’re just starting to gain appreciation for wine or sport an experienced resume, one place you need to put on your list of must-visit destinations is Pittsburgh Winery. Located in the cellar of a building that once housed a bank on Penn Avenue in the Strip District, Tim and Syma Hajian have brought the vibe of a quaint, California-style tasting room to the Steel City and combined it with a spacious live music venue adjacent to their on-site production area. Tim is a musician who has been making wine for over 20 years and Syma’s first job was in a wine store at the age of 18, so it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about the business.
Opened in 2012, Pittsburgh Winery focuses specifically on dry wines, meaning there is no sugar left in the finished product after primary and secondary fermentation. They’re best known for their robust red wines, but that doesn’t mean you won’t find an array of white wines in the portfolio as well. When I sat down with Tim and Syma, my favorite wines were a toss-up between the Sauvignon Blanc and Chilean Malbec. Each wine was on opposite ends of the taste spectrum, but I was particularly proud of myself for being able to spot notes of coffee and cocoa in the Malbec all by myself. I figured this accomplishment is comparable to what Sidney Crosby must feel like when he scores the overtime winner…..
Pittsburgh Winery’s products can be purchased online and found in over 25 restaurants across the city, but a trip to the tasting room is truly where it’s at. What you won’t find inside these four walls is pretentiousness and snobbery. What you will find is a unique and personal experience with passionate winemakers and servers, all eager to talk with you as much or as little as you’d like about the liquid in your glass. Wine, just like any adult beverage, is as subjective as it is refreshing. With that in mind, you can sample different wines in flights and discover one that truly hits you in the feels. As Tim declared, “There is no right or wrong. Everyone has a different palate. If it tastes good to you, then it’s good wine.”
Tim and Syma put emphasis on education and offering a comfortable atmosphere for their customers. They also utilize their event space with precision and, in addition to live music throughout the week, host several fun events over the course of the year. One of the most popular is their annual grape stomping, a gathering that lets wine enthusiasts crush grapes with their feet just like our forefathers intended. This isn’t practiced much these days, but those with grape stomping on their bucket list should be on the lookout for this event.
Personally, my wine adventure is just taking off and I was happy to learn the Pittsburgh region is ripe with wineries. Across Pennsylvania, over 300 wineries of various sizes can be found. I’m no expert, but it’s going to take me a while to comb through each of those. For now, I’m going to pull up a seat and a snifter at Pittsburgh Winery and take my palate to new heights.
I’ll see you there.