Anyone who’s enjoyed a lazy afternoon at Penns Woods Winery — sipping viognier, nibbling cheese, enjoying the view — has Carley Razzi Mack to thank.
Razzi Mack’s father, Gino Razzi, acquired this picturesque patch of Delaware County in 1999. It was already home to a small vineyard, but the Abruzzo native and wine importer planted more. He began making his own wine from its grapes in 2004.
When Razzi Mack graduated from Colorado State University in 2009, Gino lobbied her to come home and work for him.
“He really wanted me to go into his wine import company,” she says, “but it didn’t interest me. It’s more corporate … Business meetings and suits just wasn’t my style.”
Instead, she took interest in the Chadds Ford vineyard, the tasting room for which “was just a little room with a bar, and no tables, no chairs, nothing on the wall,” Razzi Mack remembers. Her dad’s mentality was, “'People can come in, buy my wine, and leave.'”
That might work for visitors in France and California, she told him, “but this is a very new area [for wine], so you really have to entertain them and talk to them about the wine and teach them and make them excited and passionate about it.”
Razzi Mack was the sole worker at the tasting room. She hired the now-general manager Andrea Creato in 2010, and the two rotated weekend shifts, giving tastings, crafting events, promoting the winery.
Ten years later, the staff has grown to 15. The vineyard’s sloping grounds are dotted with guests daily — even during the pandemic, which hasn’t slowed Razzi Mack and team. They’ve devised various systems to keep the 310-seat grounds clean, distanced, and safe.
In March, they also managed to salvage their most popular annual event, a wine and cupcake pairing with West Chester’s Dia Dock bakery. They invested in 2-ounce bottles, filling and labeling them by hand, then packaging them up to be picked up or shipped out along with miniature cupcakes. The success of the event spurred a new branch of business — virtual tastings — that Razzi Mack says will stick around for good.
The pandemic “kind of gave us a blank slate to spark creativity,” she says. “It’s been an adventure, a lot of fun.”