Production, promotion of Pa. beers and wines gets nearly $2 million boost from PLCB grants

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) has approved grants totaling $1,78 million for 21 projects to increase the production of Pennsylvania-made malt and brewed beverages and wines, Governor Tom Wolf announced. 

The grants are aimed at enhancing Pennsylvania’s beer industry via promotion, marketing, and research-based programs and projects, as well as increasing the production of state-made wines. 

“Since 2017, we have awarded more than $12 million to projects that support Pennsylvania’s growing wine and beer industries as they explore research, improve products and raise awareness,” Wolf said. “This is an investment that helps growers meet increasingly complex challenges, provides higher-quality and better-tasting products, and connects consumers with Pennsylvania wines and craft beverages that are among the finest in the nation.” 

Ranked second in the U.S. for volume of craft beer production, Pennsylvania produced 3.2 million barrels in 2021 for a $5.5 million economic impact. Pennsylvania ranks fifth in the country for wine production and annually welcomes more than two million visitors to state wineries generating tourism revenue of more than $476.5 million. The economic impact of wine in Pennsylvania is more than $1.4 billion. 

Act 39 of 2016 created the Pennsylvania Malt and Brewed Beverages Industry Promotion Board within the department of Agriculture and authorized the PLCB to approve up to $1 million annually for the development and marketing of the Pennsylvania beer industry. The Pennsylvania Fiscal Code also allows for unallocated beer grant funds to be made available in subsequent years. 

Act 39 also expanded the Pennsylvania Wine Marketing and Research Board and authorized the PLCB to approve up to $1 million annually for wine research and promotion. 

The PLCB regulates the distribution of beverage alcohol in Pennsylvania, operates 600 wine and spirit stores statewide, and licenses 20,000 alcohol producers, retailers, and handlers. The PLCB partners with schools, community groups, and licensees to reduce and prevent dangerous and underage drinking. Taxes and store profits totaling nearly $19.5 billion since the agency’s inception are returned to the state’s General Fund to finance Pennsylvania schools, health and human services programs, law enforcement, public safety initiatives, and other key public services. 

The Pennsylvania State Police, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, and other state agencies and local municipalities across the state also receive financial support from the PLCB. 

Additional information regarding the PLCB can be found at lcb.pa.gov. 

Universities, associations, tourist information centers receive grant funding to promote state beers, wines

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) approved nearly $2 million in grants for 15 projects meant to promote, market and research Pennsylvania-made beers and wines.

The seven beer projects to receive grants in the announcement were funded by the Pennsylvania Malt and Brewed Beverages Industry Promotion Board, which is authorized by the PLCB to approve up to $1 million annually for development and marketing of the state’s beer industry.

Eight wine research and promotion projects also received funds from a $1 million grant pool through the Pennsylvania Wine Marketing and Research Board.

“Pennsylvania industries have to adopt new ways of doing business in the COVID-19 world, and these grants will provide substantial funding to help two vital parts of our agricultural community not only explore ways of improving production methods, but also boost marketing efforts that reach beyond our borders,” said Governor Tom Wolf.

Harrisburg-based boutique cinema production house, GK Visual, was awarded $498,000 in grant funding to produce 12 episodes of its award-winning web series as well as produce 1-to-2-minute promotional videos for up to 400 Pennsylvania breweries.

The Pennsylvania Winery Association, also based in Harrisburg, was awarded $531,220 to engage the public and provide valuable support to the wine industry. It plans to partner with PA Media Group and Momentum Digital on the project to attract new visitors to wineries and tasting rooms and raise the visibility and reach of Pennsylvania’s wines.

Other organizations and their beer and wine related projects include:

Visit Pennsylvania, $150,000, to support promotion of the greater Philadelphia region’s craft breweries.

Penn State University, $94,341, to explore effective ways to preserve beer quality after packaging and during storage.

Penn State University, $78,603, to study hop pelletization in a Pennsylvania hop yard.

Temple University, $45,000, to work with the PLCB to identify and implement strategies to allow the state’s beer and malt beverage industry to emerge from the pandemic.

Visit Luzerne County, $40,500, to promote Luzerne County’s ten local breweries through a beer trail guide.

PA Cider Guild, $37,750, to increase awareness of local cider and craft beverages through a PA Cider Trail guide.

Penn State University, $108,161, to study spotted lanternfly economic thresholds and impacts on cabernet franc.

Penn State University, $88,747, to apply a novel oxygenation technique that would allow wineries to improve wine color and quality as an alternative to barrel aging.

Penn State University, $79,310, to study herbicide use, drift and damage on grapevines.

Penn State University, $74,003, to better understand how winter and spring temperatures effect grape production.

Penn State University, $57,192, to determine the economic and longevity impact of grapevine leaf roll disease.

Penn State University, $42,492, to explore a novel vertical and lateral shoot positioning apparatus to improve fruit composition and decrease the bunch rot of wine grapes.

Lehighton getting a different kind of tasting room

Wine & More on 1st offers samples and sales of local wine, beer and spirits. PHOTO/SUBMITTED

Lehighton is getting a tasting room, but will be a bit different than what you’re used to.

Most tasting rooms are opened by winemakers, distillers or brewers to promote and sell their own product. This will offer samples and sales of products made by other local producers.  But, Wine & More on 1st owner, Tina Henniger, said it’s an idea that has worked.

Henninger, said when she opened her first tasting room in Palmerton she didn’t even think she had an unusual idea. “I thought it was a niche that needed to be filled,” she said.

She had been working at a winery’s tasting room. She enjoyed her job and saw that people really enjoyed coming to tasting rooms. So when the winery decided to close the tasting room, she decided she’d open one of her own.

She didn’t make wine herself, so she spoke to a number of wineries in the region to find out if they would be interested in a deal where she would operate a tasting room for them. She quickly found out that her idea was not the way it was generally done, but that didn’t mean the wineries weren’t receptive to the idea.

She ended up opening a tasting room in a small back room of another business. Even though it was small it did well. She routinely sold $2,000 to $3,000 worth of product a month.

She had to close the shop during the pandemic, but now that it’s receding, she’s opening a new shop in Lehighton she says will be bigger and better.

Wine & More on 1st plans a May 20 grand opening in a building Henninger and her husband bought on First Street in the borough. It will feature the wine of Stone Mountain Wine Cellars of Pine Grove. Henninger will also carry beer made by Cave Brewing of Bethlehem and spirits from Insurrection Distillery of Lehighton.

Because wine and cheese go well together, she will also sell cheeses from Jubilee Heritage Farms of Middleburg.

She’s also putting a spin on another concept. While many small eateries are BYOB – bring your own booze, her tasting room will be BYOF – bring your own food. She hopes customers will support some of the eateries nearby, bring in lunch or dinner and enjoy a flight of wine or beer or some spirits.

Her business model is simple. The makers of the products she offers front her the stock and then she gets a percentage of the sales.

She isn’t limiting Wine & More to her primary brands. She also plans to have special events where wineries, brewers or distillers can hire her to have one or two day “expos” featuring their products.

Mostly, she said she wants to create a fun comfortable place that her neighbors in Lehighton will enjoy.

“I think the locals will be my bread and butter,” she said. “There will be tables, chairs and sofas. People can buy drinks by the flight or buy a bottle to go.”

She notes that the products she carried are all priced to the Leighton market and aren’t overly expensive.

She plans on having events, like a trivia night and sip-and paint-parties to make the tasting room a fun place to hang out and enjoy a beverage. She also hopes to offer activities like.

But the draw of the tourist trade is not lost on her. Tourists going to events in Jim Thorpe will drive right by her building and she thinks that will make her business an ideal stop for those coming to or from events like the borough’s autumn festivals. She will likely expand her operation to meet any growing business she might get from the tourist trade.

One thing she thinks will help draw in visitors coming to the region for outdoor activity is that her tasting room is pet friendly. People can take their dog for a walk among the fall leaves and then come in and enjoy a drink.

A Conversation With: Mandy Tolino of Tolino Vineyards in Bangor

Mandy Tolino –


Tolino Vineyards is an artisanal winery owned by the Tolino family in Bangor. Their wines are hand crafted from grapes grown in their onsite vineyard. Business is in the family’s blood, starting with Tolino’s Fuel Service in 1955.  Mandy Tolino is general manager of the vineyards and a third generation of the family business.

LVB: Tolino Vineyards has been around for more than 13 years now. What has it been like working with your family for all this time?

Tolino: My three siblings and I started working together at the winery when we were in our twenties, which has allowed us to grow together professionally as the business grew.  Reflecting back on where we started (working in the vineyard), to where we are today it is pretty amazing.  Each of us has unique talents, educational backgrounds, and personality strengths that we used to find our niche in the business.

LVB: Was working for a family business always ‘in your blood?’

Tolino: Yes. Our grandfather started Tolino’s Fuel Service in 1955 and our dad, Carl Tolino, continues to own and operate the business.  I worked at the fuel service as well, learning the ropes in preparation for the third generation to manage the business. Growing up we lived a few houses up the street from the business and would all spend a lot of time there playing in the office and riding around on the tractors and trucks. When the winery opened, we had a lot of family business resources to turn to for advice. Each of us took our own path to land back at the business, some right out of college, while others worked in other jobs before returning to the business.

LVB: How do you share the workload, responsibilities and decision making?

Tolino: Decision making is the most challenging part of four siblings working together. There is a lot of collaboration and heated discussions about some decisions, while other things come easily now that roles and responsibilities are more clearly defined.  Carl is the winemaker, Liz is the tasting room/retail manager, Mark manages our Easton location and I am the general manager. We sometimes still argue about who is going to take out the recycling just like when we were kids, but when it comes down to the important decisions and tasks we work together to get them done.

LVB: When are you at your busiest? How do you work together to get everything done?

Tolino: We are busiest July through October.  The tasting room is busy with events such as Family Fridays, Sangria Sunday and fall harvest events. In September we start harvesting grapes and processing wine and everyone pitches in. During September we are all working 7 days a week and as life starts to slow down we schedule our lives so we each get some down time.

LVB: What’s the most rewarding part of running a vineyard with your family?

Tolino: Looking back and seeing that we built the business together as a team from the ground up.  We started with tiny little grapes vines and now we have a picturesque winery and a reputation for making really great wines and providing our customers with a fun and educational experience. It is also rewarding that at the end of a long day of harvest or a busy Saturday that all of our kids — 10 cousins so far — are able to spend so much time together and grow up in the family business together much like we did.

Kosher winery opens in Allentown Bridgeworks

Kevin Danna, owner of Binah Winery, bottles his kosher wine at the Allentown Bridgeworks Enterprise Center. PHOTO/SUBMITTED –


The newest tenant at Allentown’s Bridgeworks Enterprise Center is the Lehigh Valley’s first kosher winery. It’s also the only kosher winery in Pennsylvania and one of only a few in the Northeast.

But Kevin Danna, owner of Binah Winery, said he’s part of a growing trend in the industry to change the image of kosher wine, which he said has unfortunately been associated for too long with sweet, lower quality wines, like Manischewitz.

“We’re here to break that stigma,” Danna said.

Such wines are generally used for sacramental purposes and just aren’t meant to be premium wines, but there is nothing in the process of kosher wine that would make it taste any different than traditional wines.

“You can’t tell the difference when you’re drinking kosher wine from other wines,” he said. “It’s more about the ritual, religious part.”

Making a wine kosher means selecting ingredients, such as yeast, that are made in accordance with Jewish dietary laws. The wine can also only be made by those who keep a kosher lifestyle.

Apart from that, he got his winemaking skills the traditional way. He began experimenting in wine making in his basement with his friends back in 2014.

“It was bad,” he admitted.

He enrolled in winemaking school and had an apprenticeship at Pinnacle Ridge Winery near Kutztown before leasing his own vineyard outside Easton last year to grow and bottle the grapes. Space for bottling at that location was limited however, and he knew he couldn’t grow his business without more space.

He was unable to find anything that fit his upstart winery budget until he was introduced to the Bridgeworks, which had everything he needed, including a meadery, microbrewery and micro distiller.

“Since I’m a winery, I kind of complete the circle,” he said.

The new winery also received financial support in the form of $165,000 in low-interest loans from the Allentown Enterprise Zone and the Allentown Revolving Loan Fund, programs that are part of AEDC’s Urban Made initiative.

The move changed his business model slightly; instead of growing his own grapes, which was labor intensive, he operates as an urban winery, purchasing his grapes from other growers in the region. He ultimately wants to use all local grapes to give his wine distinction, but he said the grape supply is very low now, impacted by the spotted lanternfly and other issues and most vineyards locally don’t have enough grapes to supply him.

His sales structure remains the same, he sells mostly direct-to-consumer in 40 states with what he said is about a 50/50 split between kosher Jewish customers and regular wine enthusiasts, which is his goal.

“I don’t want to be known for making just excellent kosher wine, but for making excellent wine,” he said.

The local Jewish population has been very supportive, but he doesn’t plan on opening a local tasting room. He noted most tastings occur on Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath, and he needs to remain closed to be observant. He is hoping to get into Pennsylvania liquor stores and area grocery stores and is building his inventory to tap that market.

In his first year he made around 1,000 cases of red, white and sparkling wine. He’s up about 50 % over last year and hopes to have his inventory doubled by next year.

“Sales have exceeded expectations so far,” he said. So he hopes the growth will continue and he’ll help grow the reputation of kosher wine as fine wine in the Lehigh Valley.

PLCB opens Fine Wine store in Berks

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board opened its newest Fine Wine & Good Spirits Premium Collection store in Muhlenberg Township. (Submitted) –

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board opened its newest Fine Wine & Good Spirits Premium Collection store in Muhlenberg Township, Berks County.

With nearly 6,000 square feet of retail space, the store at 4110 N. Fifth St. Highway, offers more than 4,200 wines and spirits, including luxury products and Premium Collection spirits, according to a news release.

The store also carries Chairman’s Selection products that are hand-selected, highly rated wines available at discounts from nationally quoted prices. In addition, the store has a wine specialist to help customers.

The store also has a “Made in Pennsylvania” section to highlight wines and spirits produced in the Commonwealth. In addition, the store sells Pennsylvania lottery tickets.

The majority of store is lit with LED, or light-emitting diodes, or energy-efficient compact-fluorescent lighting, using a fraction of the energy of traditional lighting.

This store replaces a smaller standard store at Penn Plaza, 3045 N. Fifth Street Highway, Muhlenberg Township.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Berks County has a total of 14 Fine Wine stores in the county, according to the PLCB.