In the world of business, change is unavoidable. It could be said the resistance to change or the acceptance of it is one of the most important factors in determining which businesses succeed and which ones flame out. Just outside of St Marys in the small community of Weedville, is a local winery with an owner who has embraced every bump in the road and came back stronger.
Elk Mountain Winery was opened officially in November of 2019. Although things got off to a great start through most of that winter, the busy season that was really going to kick things off was the upcoming spring/summer of 2020. However, in March the world was ravaged by COVID-19. This was a devastating blow to many businesses, but the worst effects were suffered by new businesses who did not have years of experience and capital to rely on. Instead of shuttering up or halting operations until everything got back to normal, Amy Auman, the owner/operator of the winery, decided to focus on what she could perfect while other things slowed down. Amy focused on building a great website and social media presence, beefing up her retail space, and most importantly perfecting her wine making processes.
Amy makes all the alcohol on-location in the basement of the winery. I say “alcohol” instead “wine” because she recently has expanded into making a wine-makers brandy and an alcoholic slushy. I got a first-hand look at how her open mind towards her business has benefitted her when I walked in the front door of the business and waited behind a couple who was in the middle of buying some retail items. The couple stated they used to drive by the winery all the time on their motorcycle but never bothered stopping because they didn’t like wine. However, this time they noticed the sign advertising their “slushies”. Had Elk Mountain stuck to making wine, these customers would’ve walked out empty handed. Instead, they gulped down a couple watermelon slushies and continued their way back to Pittsburgh with some local styles.
While I was waiting in line to check out with my home-made Bloody Mary mix, I couldn’t help but notice that almost every item in the store’s large retail space was locally made. It made me proud to be part of a community with so many talented artisans and small manufacturers. The etched wine glasses, perfumes, cheeses, wood carvings and countless other items all seemed to be themed towards Elk County and its beautiful natural surroundings and unique, blue-collar populace.
Aside from the two staples that are wine and retail, Amy is most excited to focus on event hosting and the plans to expand the outdoor space. One would be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful view than the one that exists right outside the back door of the winery. The mountains in the distance and beautiful surrounding greenery make for such a relaxing place to enjoy a bottle of wine. Amy often has live acoustic entertainment, wine tastings and other types of events, but it’s easy to see the potential this location holds as one of the area’s places to be.
There’s a lot of cool things coming down the line for this innovative and exciting new business, a lot of which Amy made me promise to keep hush-hush. However, I can say that anyone who likes gathering with friends and family, enjoying a taste of locally made alcohol, and supporting the local community has a lot to look forward to!