Jim Sattler remembers the moment he fell in love with wine.
Seated at a dinner table with friends and family members in the Italian countryside, he took a sip of Collefrisio Confront0 Vino Rosso. Immediately, the beer drinker had a new favorite beverage.
Sattler and his wife Robin recently opened SPiLL Retail Wine and Tasting Room in Bloomfield, giving locals easy access to wines that are hard to find. The 1,350-square-foot Liberty Avenue storefront, a former We Buy Gold check cashing site, is now an elegant, sun-dappled space with intimate tables, a cozy bar and a retail area.
Thanks to special Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board licenses, it is one of the first businesses of its kind in Pittsburgh. There are plans for additional locations throughout the region.
SPiLL has 42 different varietals of wine sold by the glass, bottle or case. The featured products are from small-scale operations in Italy and Australia that generate fewer than 200,000 gallons a year, including Collefrisio, Danimi, Aramis and Conte D’Attimis-Maniago — a winery that’s been in business since 1585.
Sattler’s father made wine from the grapes, cherries and strawberries he grew on their Monroeville property, so he appreciates the fact that winemakers are farmers first. He’s happy to use his expertise in logistics — for 30 years he’s launched startup companies and franchises nationwide — to help small wineries make a big impact stateside.
Visitors can head to the bar — decorated with old and new photographs of Bloomfield businesses — to sample reds, whites and rosés. Customers can try a few samples, then peruse a rotating list of eight or nine wines available by the glass. Prices range from $6 to $10.
The atmosphere is friendly and laid-back. Though there’s no kitchen at SPiLL, customers can nibble on free pistachios at the bar, bring their own food or order in from area restaurants.
The Forest Hills couple hopes to educate people about wine without the stereotypical smugness sometimes associated with the culture. Diehard Cabernet imbibers are encouraged to take a chance on a white and, after a few samples, might just leave the store with a new favorite in tow.
“There are only two types of wine: the kind you like and the kind you don’t like,” Sattler says with a smile.