Mountain Top Distillery owners to community: ‘We’re still here’
Big changes are happening on the mountain, and Mountain Top Distillery owner’s Frank and Sarah Kudlack want their customers to know the changes are positive.
The Kudlacks, who purchased the location formerly known as Bastress Mountain Winery & Mountain Top Distillery almost two years ago, recently encountered licensing issues beyond their control.
Once they were able to get some clarity from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, they made the decision to sell off their remaining bottles and no longer produce new wines.
There were also other factors that led them to believe this was the best decision for the future of their business. When the Kudlacks purchased the property in March of 2018, they essentially purchased two businesses.
“We came in and have high standards, so we adjusted to meet those high standards,” said Sarah Kudlack. They soon realized that while trying to focus on two separate businesses, neither one was getting the attention it deserved.
The Kudlacks realized they had a greater interest in the distilling side of the business and the creative outlet it afforded.
They also note that in wine making, the entire process is dependent on the success of the grape harvest. In 2017, the grapes used to make their best selling wine were damaged by hail and they could not produce that wine in 2018. “Our hearts were waning in the winery. We were itching to get creative with the spirits,” said Sarah Kudlack.
The Kudlacks say that now that their focus is in one lane, they will be able to concentrate on their appreciation for liquor, exploring their creativity and expanding their reach. “At the heart of it, we are business owners and while this pivot was unplanned and unmitigated, it turned out for the better. We want the business to succeed for the community so it can benefit the community and put dollars in Williamsport,” they said. “Change is growth,” added Frank Kudlack. “If your community doesn’t grow, it dies.”
The Kudlacks want to assure customers that, in addition to their popular spirits and cocktails, they will be serving wine from local wineries and continue to serve New Trail beer. Supporting other local businesses is something that is very important to the Kudlacks. Their maple whiskey is made from maple syrup from a farm in Tioga County where they buy it in 55-gallon drums. Their bottles and botanicals are sourced locally and they use a regional provider for food products.
The distillery will continue to host popular events like Bingo and Sunday Funday, an event held one Sunday a month May through October with live music, food and family fun. Customers can also book private events such as birthday parties and baby showers.
The Kudlacks hope their plan for growth and new products has a positive impact on their community and helps attract families to the area. “If money is not coming in, how does a community survive?” asked Sarah Kudlack. “We need people to come to Williamsport for more than just a week in August,” added Frank Kudlack.
Frank and Sarah Kudlack’s message to the people of their community is one of positivity. “We are still here. We will continue to be here, doing well and making people happy and being a positive part of the community that gives back as much as it gets.”
Mountain Top Distillery is located at 5451 Route 654, Williamsport and can be reached at 570-745-2332 or via their Facebook page.