Natural wine shop Aldaskeller Wine Co. is cleared to open in South Wedge 

click to enlarge Aldaskeller had planned to open this spring on Gregory Street.


Aldaskeller had planned to open this spring on Gregory Street.

Months after its planned launch was thrust into limbo when the state denied it a liquor license, Aldaskeller Wine Company on Gregory Street has been given the green light to open.

Aldaskeller first appeared in front of the New York State Liquor Authority in February, which rejected its application for a license on the grounds that it was too close to nearby Time for Wine & Spirits.

The authority had also speculated that the shop's business model that was not economically viable. Aldaskeller plans to offer a boutique selection of handpicked low-intervention wines, commonly called “natural wines.”

“Here’s what happens, regularly, when people come in here and say they’re only going to serve natural and organic wines: they figure out pretty quickly it’s not economically feasible, and then they come back and want to be a full-blown liquor store,” SLA Chairman Vincent Bradley said at the February hearing. “And at that point, I got to shut them down.”

But the SLA board reconsidered its stance on Wednesday and reversed its opinion, allowing Aldaskeller to move forward. If all goes smoothly, owner Brandon Opalich plans to open its doors in the first week of June.

“Man, I’m kind of just at a loss for words,” Opalich said in a phone interview after the decision.

At the hearing, Opalich was granted the license to open Aldaskeller, with a caveat. The shop would be limited to only selling natural wines, and would not be allowed to pivot into selling liquor in the future. Opalich agreed to those terms, stating that was his intention all along.

“I’m going to hold you to it, that’s what you’re asking for, and that’s the only reason I’m voting yes,” SLA board member Greeley Ford said.

In February, CITY published a feature story on the emergence of Aldaskeller and the growing popularity of natural wines. The wines are akin to wild ales in that they are fermented with little human intervention, using the natural yeast in the air and skins of the fruit.

After Opalich was denied his license, a petition for Aldaskeller’s reconsideration garnered 3,597 signatures. Opalich also was given support by Sen. Jeremy Cooney and President of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce Bob Duffy.

“It was just really flattering, from then to even right now, how supportive people were of us,” Opalich said. “I was at Fuego (Coffee Roasters) the other day and a guy held the door for me, and as I was walking away he yelled out at me, ‘Can’t wait for the shop to open.’ That was really cool to me, Rochester can be such a great community.”

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or [email protected].
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