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Refucilo Winery Brings a Taste of Argentina to the North Side

Dr. Juan Antonio Lora's passion project is linked to youthful memories.

photo by jeff Miller

The North Side’s Refucilo Winery, which opened in mid-December, offers wine enthusiasts a taste of Argentina. The Western Avenue space comes from Dr. Juan Antonio Lora and his wife, winery manager Cecilia Lora.

For the Loras, Refucilo is a passion project and is linked to Dr. Loras early life in his native Dominican Republic. His love of wine began on long afternoon sailing trips with his beloved uncle, aboard his boat, Refucilo, a Spanish word that translates to “lighting.” After sailing, his uncle would open bottles of wine and cook dinners on the beach.  

Dr. Lora, a longtime home wine maker, decided he wanted to own a vineyard, so in 2016 the couple traveled to Mendoza, Argentina, to visit the Uco Valley, a noted winemaking region. They purchased a 5-acre share of Casa de Uco Vineyards & Wine Resort, a 600-acre managed vineyard in a desert ringed by the Andes mountains.

The Uco Valley is located in central western Argentina and is recognized as one of its key wine-making regions. Casa de Uco sits at high elevation and its desert climate of severe high and low temperatures, as well as its soil quality, make it a sought-after place for vintners who want to purchase grapes for wines that mirror the terrior of the region. Refucilo wines are made at Casa de Uco, according to Dr. Lora’s specifications, and then shipped to Pittsburgh.

Refucilo holds both a Pennsylvania limited winery license and an importers license. Although the Refucilo Winery holdings are exclusively Malbec grapes, all the owners in Casa de Uco can purchase grapes from one another, making it easy to produce a variety of wines. Refucilo currently offers a 2014 Malbec, 2015 Grand Reserve Blend and 2017 Pinot Noir, Chardonnay Reserve, Sauvignon Blanc and Torrontes. Spring promises a Malbec Rosé for warm weather drinking.

The winery is tucked in a row house on Western Avenue. It has a quaint, warm feel with 30 seats and a small bar for wine tasting. Photos on a screen in the tasting area show views of the Andes mountains, life on the vineyard and the Loras happily picking grapes. The tiny kitchen makes tapas such as crab cakes and flatbreads, all suggested with wine pairings. Once the weather warms, the Loras will open a small back patio and intend to have live music for their guests.

907 Western Ave., North Side; 412/251-0231, refucilo.wine

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