When Joe Mirin and Joe Marx searched for brand names for their wines, they stayed close to home with their selections.
They located their MM Micro Winery Inc. in a former silk mill in Wilkes-Barre that’s also home to Marx Sheet Metal & Mechanical Inc. So, it’s easy to see why they chose the Silk Mill Hill and Tin Knocker names.
“Nobody would have thought of putting a winery in Wilkes-Barre,” Mirin said. Nobody except the longtime friends.
They’ve been open a few weeks and in production quite a bit longer in California, where the Silk Mill Hill wines are made.
Their California red and white wines are served at the Westmoreland Club in Wilkes-Barre, the Fox Hill County Club in Exeter, the Cafe: An American Bistro in Plains Township, and 279 Bar & Grill in Plains Township. The winery has a liquor license that permits them to sell to the public as well.
In their second-floor tasting room and production facility at the former mill on the corner of High and Blackman streets, they’re also making wines under the Divine Diva and Domestic Goddess brands. Twelve stainless steel tanks with capacities in excess of 400 gallons contain wines to be released early next year.
Mirin was excited about the Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon grapes in production.
“That is under our Divine Diva brand,” he noted.
It could be bottled now, but it’s not quite up to the standards he’s developed as a drinker and vintner.
“I’ve been making wine for about 12 years. I just got very, very good at it,” explained the 50-year-old Mirin, whose background is in construction management. “I just have an incredible passion for making wine.”
At 50, he’s the older M in MM and serves as president of the venture. Marx, 45, is the vice president.
Mirin said he’s spent thousands of hours reading and studying about wine making in addition to drinking wines.
He’s takes his craft seriously, but doesn’t see it as a job. “I get up. I can’t wait to get here,” Mirin said.
With Marx, he put together a game plan in 2011 that listed what they wanted to do and where they wanted to be in four years. “We’re three years down the road,” Mirin said.
They declined to disclose their investment, only saying it was substantial.
They pay for a laboratory in California to test the grapes grown for them in Napa Valley vineyards and have their wines made there. Some of the reds are aged in oak barrels for 18 months, while other wines are barrel aged for shorter periods or not at all.
Their locally made 2013 vintage wines are in the filtering stage and should be ready in March or April.
Marx is pleased with how things are going and thrilled to be part of the venture.
“I’m proud when I’m able to give someone a bottle of wine and say it’s from our winery,” he said. “It’s very rewarding.”
Their goal as a small winery matches its capability to be able to produce between 10,000 and 20,000 gallons of wine annually and make it affordable. The Silk Mill Hill wines sell for $17 a bottle, and it’s $13 a bottle for the Divine Diva and Domestic Goddess brands.
Their efforts have been well-received, they said.
“One thing everybody says about our wines is, ‘Wow! This is smooth,’” Mirin said.
Maybe it has something to do with the silk mill.