Video Credit: Olivia Shipman: Director, Videographer, Editor
A note from Natalie: Nicole is one of the people that you can't help but instantly love. The very minute you meet her. She has an infectious laugh, a sparkle in her eyes, and the warmest hug you could ever imagine. We met Nicole at a Bridal Show in 2012 - she had just gotten engaged to her (handsome, and all-around-awesome) boyfriend Bobby McLean. They decided to hire us for their engagement photos, and to say we all hit it off would be an understatement. Deviating from their original plan of working with a Sonoma wedding photographer, they decided they wanted to keep working with us, and flew us to Sonoma to capture their wedding at Sebastiani Vineyard and Winery in 2013 (a winery Nicole worked with frequently at her wine shop in Pittsford). The Casciani and McLean families have welcomed us into their homes, lives and hearts. We could not be more excited for this new venture they're starting, and are eternally grateful for their presence in our business and our lives.
And now, our interview with Nicole from intern Hannah McCarthy:
I walked out of the sizzling summer sun and was greeted by the perfectly chilled air inside Via Girasole Wine Bar. What used to be a gourmet goodies shop has transformed into Pittsford's premier evening indulgence space. Next to Pittsford Wine & Spirits in Schoen Place, the bar features vases of fresh flowers, exposed wood accents, matte black tables, and an impressive stock of wine – of course. We sat down with Nicole Casciani McLean, the mastermind behind the new venture, to discuss all things wine, Pittsford, and small business.
Nicole and her parents took over Pittsford Wine & Spirits in 2009 and have been loving every second of it. As quick and simple as the decision seemed to be at the time, Nicole’s passion for wine grew with age: “Growing up, wine was part of the ceremony of the meal. I've always appreciated wine but it wasn’t until I became more educated about wine that I realized I had a passion for it,” Nicole said. Nicole has already passed her first test towards becoming a sommelier and is studying for the second. In addition to the wealth of wine knowledge that herself Nicole brings to the table, she is proud to have both Susan Matuck and Maureen Bayer on her team as well. All three women are highly educated in the ways of wine, and Maureen is their on-premise sommelier.
This passion for education has led Nicole all over the world, from New Zealand to California. "New Zealand wine makers are so cool. They won't take no for an answer. They are trying so many different varietals and really exploring. It was amazing to drink wines right where they were grown and to be able to ask the maker his philosophy." said Nicole.
Ask Nicole about a wine on the Via Girasole list and you will get a story. Anyone in the wine business could recite best pairings and good years for a particular grape. Nicole will tell you about the family who grew the grapes, the hills where the vines prospered and the history of the vineyard. "Every bottle of wine has a story. I want our clients to connect with not only the taste of the wine but with the history and legacy of the vineyard."
We’re thrilled Nicole followed her passion and took it to monumental heights - a wine bar was one of the few culinary components missing from Schoen Place. “There are a lot of restaurants in the village, but there are few places you can just go to have a drink without feeling like you have to sit and have a whole meal. People often feel bad if they take a table at a busy restaurant to just drink wine - here, that’s the point.”
Via Girasole Wine Bar opens this Friday, 31st! Visit their website for more information, and come visit us at their Grand Opening!
This interview was conducted by our Marketing/Communications intern, Hannah McCarthy, a rising sophomore at Elon University in North Carolina.
Video was created by our Videography/Media intern, Olivia Shipman, a rising junior at Park Point college in Pittsburg, PA.