Heather Schubert

Harry Funk / The Almanac

Staff member Heather Schubert with some of the selections at Apericena

The past several years have been a bonanza for beer enthusiasts in the South Hills, with an increasing number of venues offering a substantial variety of brews.

For wine connoisseurs, there’s Apericena.

The Upper St. Clair establishment opened in November with an offering of more than 100 brands, “any varietal you can think of,” according to co-owner Brad Witucki.

He and partners Hal Kestler and Brian Dziki want to give customers the opportunity to try wines that aren’t available elsewhere locally and, in the process, expand their vinic palates.

“Maybe they like the California cab,” Witucki said, referencing the popular, full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. “Well, we have something from Italy you might like or something from France that you might like.”

Those represent the three main geographical origins of Apericena’s initial selection of wines, and plans are to rotate the inventory to offer varieties from other regions and on a seasonal basis.

Other types of beverages also are available, and in keeping with its name, the bar has a limited food menu, featuring Charcuterie boards and other appetizers.

“‘Apericena’ means, essentially, to grab a glass of wine and snack before dinner,” Witucki explained.

By profession, he is manager for KGA Partners, the Mt. Lebanon-based developer of the Siena at St. Clair retail complex, where Apericena is located. Kestler owns KGA and is majority owner of Apericena.

Dziki, a South Fayette Township resident, has a 20-year career in restaurants and bars, and he was an accountant in the U.S. Navy’s food service division.

“Hal originally came up with the idea and said, ‘You know, I think the South Hills needs a wine bar,’” Dziki recalled. “We started talking, and it was go from there.”

He’ll admit that he generally is more of a beer guy, but in preparation for the bar’s opening, he and his partners delved deeply into the world of wine.

“This was a two-year buildup, so we were able to do a lot of tasting,” he said, repeating that with an emphasis of the first word: “Lot of tasting.”

Plenty of learning was involved, as well, with assistance from Palate Partners School of Wine and Spirits in Lawrenceville and its association with Dreadnought Wines

“We took a couple of classes there, just for some basic knowledge,” Witucki explained. “It was very eye-opening, and fun. We actually had a lot of fun doing it.”

And he said they’re making sure staff members are prepared to impart such knowledge:

“We want people to come here and not only have a glass of wine, but maybe learn a little bit, too, about what they’re drinking.”

For more information, visit www.apericenawine.com.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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