The tasting room is the second location for Swedish Hill, a family-owned Finger Lakes winery that also runs a sample station in Lake Placid. The Peterson family established Swedish Hill in 1986, and later launched two additional ventures, Goose Watch and Penguin Bay wineries, also in the Finger Lakes region.
Guests are invited to stop by and sample any of the 20 original Swedish Hill wines, five of them sparkling, which the Petersons have hand selected for Spa City taste buds. They offer a deal that includes six tastes for just $5, including a souvenir glass. The motto is "try before you buy," which you can do by the bottle or case and at very reasonable price points.
Store manager and Saratoga Springs native John Phillips has handled sales and marketing for Swedish Hill for nearly six years, and is thrilled to now have the opportunity to share the brand with his home community.
The tasting room brings something unique to Broadway, and it's clear that locals and pedestrians are catching on: "Business has been great," Phillips said.
As a New York State business, the Swedish Hill family and staff is focused on supporting other local companies. Also available in the Swedish Hill tasting room is an assortment of locally made cheeses, maple syrups and candies, among a number of other products, and winery CEO Dave Peterson said the plan is to bring in more.
"There is a lot more interest in supporting local products," he said. "It makes sense in today's economy and today's world; it's greener because there is less transport involved, and it's good for the community."
The brand may not have fermented in Saratoga County - rather in Romulus, the Cayuga lake town where Peterson's family began making wines 25 years ago, but it's still a New York product and that's something Swedish Hill takes great pride in.
The winery is proud to be a significant player in the rapidly evolving Finger Lakes wine region.
"We have really found our place in the wine world and have become more nationally and internationally recognized for the quality of [our wines], and we're excited both for the local community to discover us as well as the cross-section of tourists that come to Saratoga throughout the year. It's a thriving community." Peterson said For Peterson, opening the Saratoga Springs tasting room was a logical next step in the growth of Swedish Hill.
"We started as a very small winery back in the 1980s, and from the beginning we [have] built our market by getting people to taste our wines," Peterson said. "This was an opportunity to link up with a new group of consumers that may not have tried our wines yet, or may not be familiar with Finger Lakes wines in general; it was a natural extension for us."
Peterson explained that Finger Lakes wines are distinctive because they are produced in a cool climate.
"We are different from anywhere else in the world, and our Rieslings in particular, are what we are becoming known for internationally," he said, adding that Finger Lakes sparkling wines also shine in the world market. "We are arguably one of the best places in the world to produce sparkling wines."
In particular, Swedish Hill has earned a reputation for their high-quality Optimus, which is a Bordeaux-style blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and merlot. The winery was the first in the Finger Lakes to produce a Meritage, which, according to Peterson, has become a standard for red wine quality.
"It has been extremely popular [in Saratoga] since we opened. It's a top seller," he said. Both Phillips and Peterson expressed their enthusiasm about joining the growing downtown business community.
The tasting room is the perfect pairing for an adjacent business development that is slated for the space behind 375 Broadway. Ballston-Spa based Martell Brothers Brewing Company purchased the four-story building that now houses the tasting room in 2010, and is working with the city to approve their plans for a brew pub that will be accessed through an alleyway between Swedish Hill and the neighboring Saratoga Shoe Depot space.
Although the brew pub project is at least six-months off, Swedish Hill's recent grand opening is a sweet taste of what's to come.
For more information about Swedish Hill, visit www.swedishhill.com or call (518) 450- 1200.