Fall is just around the corner, which means that winter won’t be too far behind! And for most of us, that brings palpable excitement, anticipation and all-around good vibes. The two businesses featured in this month’s “Around The Block” - one established and one fairly new - provide two different niches for Ellicottville’s unique market, and both are preparing for the changing of the seasons. As Betsy’s prepares to swap out its summer inventory with fall and winter apparel, the Winery is already thinking up their newest flavor for winter. Read up on what they’re about, then go check them out yourself!
WINERY OF ELLICOTTVILLE
A Premiere Hot Spot for All Ellicottville Visitors
14 Monroe Street, Ellicottville, NY 14731
A form of art unto itself, wine making requires a distinct discipline, an intricate skill-set and an encompassing knowledge of the entire process. For those of you that have attempted to make your own wine, you can relate to the frustrations it presents. Although our European friends have pretty much perfected the process, there are thousands of wineries Stateside that can give them a run for their money.
The Winery of Ellicottville, owned by the Spicola family, is one of the latter. With an unbelievably wide range of wines to choose from, the Winery has transformed itself into a premiere spot for anyone coming to Ellicottville.
Dominic Spicola, learning the process from his father, Francesco (who immigrated from Italy in the late ‘60s), said that the inspiration for opening a winery came from his son-in-law, Sam.
“He got interested in wine making when he started dating my daughter,” Spicola said. “He really liked the wine I was making, and got more and more interested in it. At the end of January (2010) we closed on the building. After extensive remodeling, we brought in all new equipment and started making the wine here. We opened our doors July 29, 2010.”
Although the grapes are crushed and pressed at a separate facility, the Winery makes all of its wine in-house. When the juice arrives at the Winery, that’s when the actual process starts. Spicola laid it out in layman’s terms.
“The main thing is starting out with good grapes,” he explained. “We have to make sure the grapes have the right sugar content when they're picked. After that, we crush, press and let it ferment, which leads to getting it cleaned up and ready to bottle. Whites and sweet reds take 3 to 4 months. Dry reds sit in a wooden barrel for a whole year.”
The competition for making wine in New York is fierce, especially with the established powerhouses in the Finger Lakes region. But the time-honored process the Spicolas bring to the table makes them a consistent contender. Winning over two dozen awards from various competitions across the country, the Winery continues to build its impressive resume.
“We just recently won another two awards,” Spicola said. “Double Golds on the EVL White and Francesco Reserve. We don’t send our dry reds out for competition, because some require you to have so much on-hand. Because we’re still a fairly small winery, we don’t have enough to enter. But the dry reds we have sent out, we’ve won awards for.”
The Winery sells all of its product in its store, which is located in the heart of downtown Ellicottville. To complement its presence in over 18 liquor stores from Wellsville to Amherst, the Spicolas also take their wine to farmer’s markets in Olean and Hamburg.
When asked about the upcoming winter/ski season in Ellicottville, Spicola described some new things the Winery is thinking about doing.
“We’re talking about coming up with a dessert-style blueberry wine,” he said. “Our Raspberry has gone over so well, we want to continue along that line with a blueberry.”
The Winery offers wine tastings as well as wine by the glass or bottle. They encourage customers to buy a bottle and have some right in the Winery. One can even bring some food in to complement the wine they just purchased.
On top of all of this, the Winery also has an excellent wine club that anyone can join. You can sign up right at the Winery or give the Spicolas a call. The various packages allow you to experience a multitude of the Winery’s award-winning wines.
“We ask that people come in and try our wine, because we’re sure we can find something that will please anybody's palate,” Spicola said.
An Aspen Experience, A Namestay in Ellicottville
34 W. Washington Street, Ellicottville, NY 14731
When she lived in Aspen, Betsy Peyser learned the unique business of consignment. Working at a shop called Susie’s, she saw how the recycling aspect could be beneficial for all the parties involved. Instead of keeping clothes you don’t wear anymore packed away in a bin in the basement, consigning them keeps the process flowing.
Opening her own store, Betsy’s, over 15 years ago, she has built a reputable and successful business that fills an important niche in Ellicottville’s unique market. Armed with years of experience from her days in Aspen and the work ethic to make it happen, Betsy’s has become a namestay.
“I wanted to move back home,” she said when asked about the initial idea of opening her own store. “My mom was still healthy and skiing, and Colorado is pretty far away. My family was here on the East, and I missed Ellicottville. I loved the business and wanted to open my own.”
“I love the whole recycling aspect of it,” she continued. “When I first moved back, I was in a different location. There weren’t a ton of spots to rent. I knew I wanted a commercial place that had parking, and once this opened up (34 W. Washington) I jumped on it.”
Betsy starts taking in winter items every Oct. 1, but said that the best time to look for winter wear is Christmas week - which is when most of the stuff she’s selling comes in. Because of how quickly the turnaround is, she always has new items to search through.
“It’s unbelievable where people come from,” she said. “A lot of my regular customers are from Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Rochester. Since I get a lot of brand name clothing in, it’s a good spot for people to look.”
In recent years, consignment shopping has become quite popular. With society moving more towards the reduce-reuse-recycle attitude, finding a happy medium is key. Betsy’s provides that.
“I carry a little bit of everything,” she said. “Stuff for babies, grandmothers, men, kids. In the summer I have golf and tennis stuff. It’s perfect for people who come from out of town and have forgotten something. Just a couple weeks ago, I had a young lady come in frantically searching for shoes for a wedding. She found a pair that fit and matched her dress. I encourage people to stop by here first before driving to Buffalo or Olean, because you never know what you might find.”
Some brand names regularly found in Betsy’s include Brooks Brothers, Anne Klein and Ann Taylor - amongst many others. The store has some shoes, a little houseware and even some leather for our friends coming in on motorcycles. People come from all over to consign their items, so you’ll find a vast array of clothing to choose from.
“At the end of the season, whatever I don’t sell I donate to charity. Consigners can come and pick up their stuff whenever they’d like, or give it to a charity of their choice,” she said.
Betsy encourages people to stop in if they haven’t before, especially if you get to town and you’re lacking something important to your wardrobe.
“For anybody that hasn't checked out the store, they should poke their head in,” she said. “I get people from all over, and the people that do come in are pleasantly surprised. There’s lots of good stuff in here, and I’m always looking for nice things to add.”
Betsy’s is open Monday through Saturday from 10am-5pm and on Sundays from noon-5pm.