If you’ve ever thought about hiding in a cave with a bottle of wine, Ray Saber and Mark Benvenuto have the perfect place for you.
In May, the friends opened Hartwood Wine Cave in Allison Park, where you can sip and snack in a subterranean setting. It’s open from 2 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, from noon to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
“We wanted to offer a cool place where people could enjoy wine in a unique atmosphere,” says Saber, who also owns Blue Fox Surfaces, a company that uses concrete to transform ordinary rooms into extraordinary surroundings. “Everybody who walks in is blown away by the décor.”
The 1,500-square-foot grotto is located at 3141 Harts Run Road, on the bottom floor of a building that also houses Hartwood Corners antique store. The cavernous bar boasts tables made from downed birch trees, intricate water features, stalactites, cave paintings, fossils and a ceiling equipped with fiber optic lights, creating the illusion of a starry night sky.
There’s seating for about 50 patrons in the main cave as well as in the adjoining banquet room, which hosts monthly events and can be rented for private parties. Every Friday and Saturday evening, musicians perform outside on a picturesque patio, which is filled with rare and interesting plants.
Gravel trails snake through the wooded area, which has two fire pits (and a third on the way) that make you feel like you’re camping. Hartwood Wine Cave even sells s’more kits to make the wilderness experience even more on point. A small building near the large parking lot will eventually serve as a cozy event space.
Customers can choose from an array of red, white and rosé wines from Bella Terra Vineyards based in Hunker, as well wine slushies and signature cocktails and beer, cider and spirits from around Pennsylvania.
Sample up to five wines or order your vino by the glass, can or bottle. Toss the cork in the large, decorative bin on the wall. Once it’s full, Hartwood Wine Cave will donate $1,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. If you don’t finish the bottle, you can re-cork it and take it home or buy a case to restock your private cellar.
Currently, Hartwood Wine Cave offers small bites such as cheese and charcuterie plates, hummus and bread and oil. In the next few months, chef Eric Capozzi will unveil a menu with more filling fare, including salads, pasta, flatbreads, pizza, pork chops and stuffed banana peppers. Simply walk up to the bar to place your order, and a buzzer will alert you to when your food is ready.
Kids are welcome at the wine cave. Manager Nicki Lasch says little ones love trying to spot the fossils hidden throughout the room but she warns parents not to let them go spelunking without supervision.