Pittsburgh is awash with fine places to drink all sorts of alcoholic drinks, but the best spots to savor local libations might be right where they’re made, in one of our growing collection of wineries, breweries, distilleries, cideries and meaderies. In that spirit, here are five stand-out sipping sites.
Wine: Narcisi Winery
There are more wineries in Western Pennsylvania than you might think, but this big one is the most reminiscent of an estate in Tuscany or California, and it’s only 10 miles from Downtown in West Deer. One villa-esque building houses the full-service Italian the La Vite Ristorante, where you can eat in or out on the patio. Or you can purchase wine in the store and drink it in the outdoor pavilion or on the lawn, where you can bring your own picnic food (but no outside alcoholic beverages) and enjoy it with live music on weekends spring through fall. Coming soon: A new outdoor bar and pizza oven. At the tasting bar, you can always get a free tasting of three of many available wines, which the Narcisi family makes mostly with red and white grapes from the Lake Erie region but also with some (Frontenac, Vidal Blanc) grown on site. The place, normally closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, is open daily in December.
4578 Gibsonia Road, West Deer; narcisiwinery.com; 724-444-4744.
Beer: Southern Tier brewpub
For the past couple of years, Pittsburgh has been undergoing a brewery boom, and now there are more than 50 in the region, with at least a dozen more on the way. Set to open this fall on the North Shore between Heinz Field and PNC Park is an unusual one: A Pittsburgh outlet of Western New York’s Southern Tier Brewery, the beers of which have long been popular here. The brewpub’s German-made brewhouse will supply 30 taps with brews, including some unique to this location, and you also can drink and enjoy a full food menu in a 10,000-square-foot beer garden. Even before the space opened, Southern Tier starting hosting parking lot parties on football game days, starting with the University of Pittsburgh’s gave vs. Penn State and the Steelers home opener vs. the Cincinnati Bengals.
316 North Shore Drive, North Shore; www.stbcbeer.com.
Hard Cider: Arsenal Cider House & Wine
Arsenal Cider House & Wine Cellar is still headquartered in the red brick Lawrenceville rowhouse where Bill and Michelle Larkin started it in 2010, and it’s still a great spot to go back in time with their Civil War-themed ciders (semi-sweet, off dry and bone dry), cider-style fruit and grapes wines and, new, mead or honey wine. You can try them in the cider garden the couple added in 2014. Arsenal also has a satellite cider house at Soergel Orchards in Franklin Park, where the Larkins plan to make some cider, and they are opening a site to serve some of their wares at Trax Farms in Finleyville. But most production is moving to a new facility in Penn Hills, where they’re raising bees to make their mead.
300 39th St., Lawrenceville; www.arsenalciderhouse.com; 412-682-7699.
Spirits: Wigle Whiskey
The distillery’s main hub in the Strip District is open for tastings, cocktails and bottle purchases daily and tours on Saturdays (weekday tours can be arranged for groups). (Its North Side Barrelhouse and Whiskey Garden is open spring to fall and can be toured on weekends.) The name trades on the region’s Whiskey Rebellion heritage (Philip Wigle was a 1790s distiller), but now Wigle makes a wide range of spirits, including gin (ginever), rum, vodka and a buckwheat honey one it calls Landlocked. This summer it started serving local beers, too. The family who runs the distillery are planning to open, also in the North Side’s Spring Garden neighborhood, a cidery called Threadbare Cider. And earlier this year, Wigle launched a crowdfunding effort to open the Whiskey of America Museum & Beverage Emporium, or WAM, next year.
2401 Smallman St., Strip District; 412-224-2827.
Apis Mead & Winery
This producer of honey wines is located in a cozy storefront on the main drag of Carnegie, but owner Dave Cerminara plans to relocate to a bigger space in a nearby church so he can expand production, add food service, as well as banquet space and outdoor seating. In the meantime, Apis offers a range of flavors of this old-fashioned drink, ranging from classics to seasonals such as Jalapeno Pineapple to bourbon-barrel-aged versions such as Pumpkin Spice.
212 East Main St., Carnegie; apismead.com; 412-478-9172.