Fiffik Law Group understands the issues associated with forming, operating, and growing small businesses because we have years of experience in representing thousands of them. We make an effort to support local and small businesses in as many ways as we can, and one of the ways we do this is by spotlighting one of our clients’ exciting new businesses every month. This month, we are shining the spotlight on Naked Grape Wine Services & Importing, Inc. owned by Ryta J. Mirisciotti.
Growing up Italian, wine was always a part of Ryta’s life. Even though she started learning about wine at a young age, she never thought it would become her career. Before realizing her true passion, she worked in the field of higher education at Slippery Rock University for 18 years.
“Higher education drove me to drink wine,” Ryta joked.
Ryta’s passion for wine became clear toward the end of her career in higher education when she started volunteering at the Wilhelm Winery to learn the winemaking process. She quickly advanced to work their tasting counter, and she even became their business-to-business sales representative. With all the expert experience under her belt, she felt it was time to branch out on her own.
“Wine should not be snobbish. It should be something that is approachable and fun to enjoy with people you care about,” Ryta said.
Ryta’s initial vision was to own and operate a tasting room, but Pennsylvania liquor laws made it difficult to obtain a license to sell wine without also selling food. Therefore, she decided to open a restaurant instead – The Naked Grape.
Ryta and her husband, David, found a beautiful space in Sewickley for their restaurant. While they loved running the restaurant together for several years, they soon realized that their heavy day-to-day involvement – due to their passion for their craft – resulted in an unsustainable amount of work. So, they had to make a change once again.
Their next endeavor was opening an Enoteca, which is the Italian word for “wine room.” While this was much closer to Ryta’s dream of owning a wine tasting room, they still faced legal obstacles. Although guests could come in to sample wine and cheese, they had to wait 48 hours before they could pick up any bottles of wine they wanted to order. This cumbersome process turned out to be too inconvenient for everyone involved, so Ryta and David pivoted once again.
Now, Ryta and David run Naked Grape Services & Importing, Inc, a wine concierge service where people can order wine from a list of recommendations curated based on personal preferences. Ryta is licensed to import wine from all over the world. The concierge service became especially popular during the pandemic when many people preferred to order things online rather than go into stores. Ryta also hosts virtual wine tastings, and she hopes to begin hosting in-person events as the world continues to reopen.
Quoting her favorite country western song “Buy Dirt,” Ryta encourages everyone to, “find something you love and call it work.”
Ryta is grateful to Fiffik Law Group for the invaluable insight and advice on the various legal matters and licensing issues that have come up throughout her career in wine.
“Pennsylvania liquor law is quite voluminous and complex. You would not want to assume you know how to interpret it if you aren’t a trained attorney,” Ryta said.
To join the email list for the concierge service, email Ryta at firstname.lastname@example.org