Waterford couple opens wine boutique
By Deborah A. Brehun
Published: Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, 8:56 p.m.
The Royal Welsh Winery opened its 125 W. Main St., doors during Fort Ligonier Days last week, capping the efforts of Renee Downing and her fiance Lucas Boyd to produce and sell their own locally-made wine.
“We have been working all year to get the boutique open to offer our first batch to our customers,” said Downing. “It was great opening during Fort Days. It was something fun for the people to do.”
Downing said Boyd acquired his wine-making knowledge while living in Seattle.
“When he moved to Seattle, he started volunteering at wineries there as a hobby,” she said.
When Boyd moved back to the area in 2008, Downing said he started to make wine for his family and friends, 20 bottles at a time.
The couple worked and lived in Pittsburgh until last year when they decided to move back to Waterford to pursue the idea of starting their own business.
Downing said they purchase 2,000 gallons of grapes from a wine orchard in Erie last year during the crush season. The first production will yield 10,000 bottles of 12 percent alcohol wine, said Downing. They offer five varieties of wine including Riesling, Niagara, Catawba, Cabernet Savignon and Concord in 750 ml bottles.
“We are a limited winery. In Pennsylvania, if you produce it, you can sell it,” Downing said. “However you can only produce so much at time. Because we produce it, we can offer wine tasting and sell the wine at our boutique.”
Downing said they decided to name the winery Royal Welsh because they both have Celtic backgrounds.
“I am Welsh and Luke is Scotch-Irish,” said Downing. “The Celtic culture is part of our heritage.”
The logo, depicting a jester atop a wine barrel, was designed by graphic designer Eric Poole a former Ligonier resident and Ligonier Valley High School alumni.
Downing said during the festival many of the fort's re-enactors came by to purchase the wine.
“The re-enactors loved the name and the logo and the fact that it is bottled right here in Ligonier,” she said.“The Royal Welsh were one of five foot soldier groups who fought at Fort Ligonier.”
Downing said they are adjusting the hours of operation to attract people who are coming to dine in Ligonier.
“Because there are a lot of BYOB (bring-your-own-bottle) restaurants in Ligonier, we are staying open until 7 p.m.,” she said. “We think we can get a lot of business from those customers.”
The boutique also offers wine accessories as well as kitchen and home decor at reasonable prices she said. They also plan to offer gift baskets during the holiday season.
“Wine is a good gift. It never goes to waste,” she said. “And, it makes a good idea for a souvenir of Ligonier.”
The couple is planning a grand opening party 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 3. They will be serving a light lunch from 2 to 4 p.m.
The boutique is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
“We hope to have the store for three or four years and see how it goes,” she said.
“One day, we might possibly have our own vineyard and open a winery there. But for now, we have the boutique.”
Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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