As a boutique, premium winemaker, what do you drink to celebrate your own milestone or success? To find out, we checked in with Kevin Danna, owner of Binah Winery, who’s celebrating his first anniversary inside the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center.

Winemakers select their vino with careful distinction, so it’s only fitting that Kevin Danna plans to open a bottle of exceptional Napa Valley Pinot Noir to mark his first full year of operations inside AEDC’s business incubator. And what a year it has been…

Three hundred and sixty-five days ago, Danna was busy moving into a new 3,100 square foot manufacturing space to scale up his kosher wine business. The suite was an empty shell prior to move-in, which required only minimal setup before the entrepreneur could begin carefully hauling in his stainless-steel tanks. As he operated the in-house forklift to transport 300-gallon tanks, he knew there’d be many other “firsts” ahead of him. But like the rest of the world, he had no idea the challenges he would soon face as a new business owner operating amidst a global pandemic.

Throughout a year described as “trial by fire”, Danna’s proudest accomplishment has been merely staying in business. Although the official opening date was June of 2020, Binah Winery began selling bottles of wine within weeks of the on-set of COVID-19. Danna reflects,

“It’s been a real fight for every bottle sold. Our ability to “get out there” as a new brand has been greatly hampered. In-person interaction has been severely curtailed, and the hospitality industry as a whole has been crippled. It’s had a massive impact on the beverage industry.”

Resilience Pays Off

While he has faced plenty of hurdles that were not in the original business plan, much of his innovation on the fly has paid off. Danna has been unable to conduct tastings in person but that hasn’t stopped him from entering contests and racking up awards. His varietals won four different medals at the 2020 Finger Lakes International Wine & Spirits Competition. (We recommend trying Binah’s “Stella”, a dry white, award-winning favorite!)

Danna has also been successfully shipping wine to over 40 states and conducting virtual tastings, like the well-attended event with the Pennsylvania Wine Society in early December. Over 30 attendants from various states joined Zoom on a Sunday afternoon to taste and chat about the winery’s “artisanal wines crafted in an urban setting”.

Danna credits the success that he has had to the high quality of his product. “The reception in the marketplace has been great. We already have a number of award-winning wines. If not for that, I’m not sure surviving this first surreal year would have been possible. Yet, things are looking good, and we are well-positioned to thrive in the post-pandemic market.”

AEDC’s Program Manager, David Dunn, shares a similar projection.

“Binah is evolving from a small niche business limited by its production capacity to a large-scale wine producer. Despite COVID-19, the business is growing as planned. Kevin is achieving his business plan, and we project he will need to hire an additional employee(s) in the not-too-distant future.”

Moving into the Bridgeworks facility, Kevin Danna was both a client of AEDC’s incubation program and a recipient of funding through the organization’s Urban Made program. Danna utilized $165,000 in loans for manufacturing equipment, materials, and minor suite renovations to get his venture launched. As a client of AEDC’s incubation program, the business owner also received assistance in the form of mentoring and advisory services. Over the past year, Danna has worked hand in hand with Program Manager, David Dunn, to evaluate financial decisions and identify sales and marketing opportunities.

Looking Ahead

Once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, Danna plans to hit the ground running. He’ll begin pouring and conducting tastings. He’s looking forward to getting the chance to engage in person and present the “divine experience” that his brand name “Binah” symbolizes. “You can expect our reputation for excellence to really begin solidifying in the marketplace,” explains Danna.

And when the demand goes up, Danna is prepared to deliver. There are currently 6,200 gallons of the 2020 Vintage in Binah tanks. The winery has increased its annual case production by 150%, going from 1,000 to 2,500 cases, and Danna expects to have a coveted spot on a few major retailer shelves in 2021.

In the more immediate future, wine enthusiasts can look forward to a new portfolio of reds along with the unveiling of Binah’s 2020 Rosé, the first release from its 2020 Vintage selection. Additional 2020 Vintage wines include Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, Blanc de Blancs, and a heavier Bordeaux-style red.

Binah Winery in the News

Binah Winery is one of four beverage manufacturers inside the Bridgeworks Enterprise Center, joined by Colony Meadery, HiJinx Brewing, and County Seat Spirits.

Get to know Binah Winery, starting from his move into Bridgeworks Enterprise Center a year ago.

Kevin Danna is no stranger to challenges as an entrepreneur. Check out his advice on entrepreneurism.

Lauren Matthews