When Curt Friehs and Cynthia Craig visited Dalton Winery in Israel, they were pleasantly surprised that the wine didn’t taste like the traditional super sweet, grape syrup-style beverage they were accustomed to drinking.
“It was phenomenal,” he said.
“It was an ‘I can’t believe that it’s Kosher wine’ kind of thing,” she added.
The partners, from Robinwood Drive, have long dreamed of opening their own business to be “captains of their own destiny,” as she put it. They were spurred on by their trips to Israel to open their own Kosher wine establishment in the South Hills. That dream came true in April, when they opened Chosen Wine at 1517 Potomac Avenue in Dormont.
“Our goal is to create a destination for specialty, spiritual products—things that you can’t get everywhere,” said Friehs, who is Jewish. You can either stop in and purchase a bottle—or multiple—from the shop, or have a seat at one of their tables and enjoy your bottle with friends or family.
For the pair, it was a “long twisty road” that led them here, she said. Friehs was born in Kansas and grew up in eastern Pennsylvania. When he attended the University of Pittsburgh, he fell in love with the city. Craig was raised in eastern Ohio and always adored her trips to the ‘burgh. After meeting on the job at Wichita State University, their careers as collegiate-level subject specialist librarians took him to New York and her to Florida.
During the pandemic, however, they began to work remotely and decided to fulfill their longtime dream of moving to Pittsburgh. For them, this is home. “There’s just so much going for Pittsburgh. It’s a very unique place. There’s a lot of culture here,” she said.
The partners were drawn to the South Hills because of its ideal location, with access to the Parkway, shopping areas and the T, they said. Within a year of moving here, they took the dive and opened Chosen Wine.
Working with distributors, they offer as many as 50 wines of all varieties made around the world—from Israel to France. Many of the wines are either not available or are difficult to get at the state-run alcohol stores, Friehs said. One of the most popular products at Chosen Wine, thus far, has been Rosé in a can. If you’re looking for that traditional concord grape Kosher wine, they have that too.
So, what makes their wine special? “Our wine answers to a higher authority,” Friehs put it simply. “It’s under strict rabbinical supervision.” The spiritual wine is pure, ethically-sourced and 100 percent natural. Many of their wines are vegan. But, isn’t all wine? Not necessarily. Many wines contain animal-derived products to help in the clarification process.
Because it’s a small shop, the owners have formed relationships with their customers, who come from all across the region. They even keep a bag of dog treats in the shop so they can greet four-pawed passersby with a surprise and get to know the fur parents.
“We try to make it a personal experience,” Craig said.
For details on Chosen Wine and to find out its current hours, visit their website at www.mychosenwine.com.