Mastropietro Invests $700,000, 25 Years at Winery

BERLIN CENTER, Ohio – After walking through the production room of the Mastropietro Winery, Ellsworth Township Trustee Bob Toman had only a few words for owner Daniel Mastropietro.

“I’m glad I didn’t get into the wine business,” he said with a hearty laugh as he looked across to the winemaker. “I couldn’t have imagined that it would all cost this much to make wine.”

Over the past 10 years, Mastropietro said, he’s spent some $700,000 on winemaking equipment, most of it imported from Italy. That’s a far cry from when the owner began making wine as a hobby 25 years ago. Over time, friends offered to buy bottles and he entered his creations in competitions.

And eventually, he and his wife got into the business full time.

“We jumped in not knowing much about the winery business – or business at all – and here we are 10 years later with all of this,” Mastropietro said.

In addition to the equipment in the winemaking building, Mastropietro has a gazebo, a picturesque pond and a tasting room where he offers food and gifts as well as wine samples.

“Everyone’s happy to come and have a good time. If you come to Mastropietro Winery and don’t have a good time, it’s on you,” Mastropietro said. “There’s so much to do and so much relaxation in such a nice atmosphere.”

On Friday, the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber hosted its Good Afternoon, Berlin Center and Ellsworth in the tasting room. Those who came were invited to tour the winemaking room after the lunch.

“It’s very impressive. I’ve never been in the back before but I knew the front part was very nice,” Toman said. “It’s amazing that we have this little operation hidden in the back. More people should know about it so they can realize how much work goes into making wine.”

The process always begins with quality grapes, Mastropietro said, which come from the 52 acres of his vineyard or imported from other states, “depending on what we’re making and what’s available.”

About 15% of the wine made at Mastropietro uses grapes grown on the 52 acres.

Once the grapes arrive, they are stemmed and crushed before being put into fermentation tanks, yeast added to turn the juice to alcohol. The wine is then racked – transferred to another tank and filtered three times – before being left alone to age one to three years.

“You do have to taste it as it goes and add some stuff to the wine to preserve it or keep it healthy,” Mastropietro said.

When that is done, the winemaker turns to his bottling machine, which bottles, caps and labels bottles at a rate of 1,000 every hour.

“That’s a nice clip for a small winery like us,” the owner says. “We usually do 300 to 400 gallons at a time, which takes us about three or four hours, including cleanup and everything. We can produce anywhere from about 7,000 gallons [per year], which is where we are now, up to about 11,000 or 12,000 gallons.”

Before the machine arrived, he made sure everyone understood, everything was done by hand using a gravity filter, a hand corker, a heat shrink for the caps and a label roller.

“It beats up on your body. If you do a thousand or two of those in a day, you’ll know you did some real work,” Mastropietro said with a smile.

And now, after a decade in the business, having done so much of the work done by hand, maybe it’s time to step aside and let someone else take care of the winery, Mastropietro said.

“I’m ready for someone to come along and buy the facility,” the winemaker announced. “I’m getting old and beat up and I’m ready to retire. I’d like to sit on the other side of the bar for a bit and relax.”

He has high expectations of whoever purchases the winery and tasting room. The most likely next step, regardless of owner, would be adding a full restaurant – the tasting room offers only appetizers – or a banquet center.

But with 25 years in the wine business, Mastropietro said he wouldn’t change anything.

“I’ve had a great time. I’ve made some good friends along the way that I wouldn’t have met otherwise,” he said. “We’ve become a nice destination and made a lot of people happy.”

And those in Berlin and Ellsworth can vouch for the success of Mastropietro and his winery.

“It’s a tremendous tourist attraction for our area,” Toman said. “People come from all over to visit and we’ve heard nothing but good about it.”

Pictured:  Daniel Mastropietro.

Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.