Along with the Brood X cicadas, a Hamilton-area winery has reemerged this summer and its owners know a thing or two about insects.
Firefly Cellars makes its debut during the Memorial Day weekend after months of renovations guided by Patty Pierleonardi and her daughter Andrea Zaidi.
It’s an extension of the family’s mutigenerational entrepreneurship that built one of the region’s largest pest control companies, PMSI, over the past three decades.
The family purchased the former Hunters Run Wine Barn last fall as the previous owners, who ran a part-time Irish-themed winery, planned their move south.
“This was kind of on a whim, honestly,” Pierleonardi said. “We came out to this property when it was for sale and looked around, and the moment that we saw it we said, “’OK, we have to get this.’”
“We had this whole vision instantly, both of us,” Zaidi said.
The weeks that followed involved a reconstruction of the tasting room, building a new deck and the conversion of a garage into a unique wine cellar for VIP events.
We’ve always talked about doing something like this. It’s a dream you think you’ll never get to do,” Pierleonardi said.
“A passion project,” Zaidi added.
And it is a new business to be handed down to the new generation, just as the pest control company has been since it was founded by Pierleonardi’s father-in-law.
There’s a lot happening at the property’s 3.6 acres. In addition to a small but expanding vineyard and tasting rooms, the family runs an events center in the main residence and an AirBnB that has been booked for months in advance.
And they bring an extensive list of contacts, with a pest company customer list that includes the some of the region’s largest companies and close ties to the area’s professional sports teams—including the Washington Football Team, the Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. During an invite-only preview event in June, Gary Clark and Ravin Caldwell from the WFT’s two Super Bowl championship teams were among the guests.
They also inherited Hunter Run’s relationship with winemaker Randy Phillips of Cave Ridge Vineyard. They purchase 11 varieties of grapes from his Mt. Jackson vineyard.
“The wine is amazing. We’re very lucky,” Pierleonardi said.
While they enjoyed the move to a new industry and building a wine business from scratch, Pierleonardi and Zaidi still have those “are we really doing this” moments.
“Holy cow, we’re actually going to have a winery with our wine and our label,” Pierleonardi said. “It’s a little bit overwhelming, because I love every piece of this property.”
“The support from all of our partners and the people we know, it’s crazy. Everyone’s excited about it, which makes me even more excited about it,” Zaidi said.
They also are employing other lessons learned from the pest control business—including standing out from among your industry peers.
“I don’t want to do what everybody else does. I love the wine business. I love going to other wineries, but I don’t want to be like them. I want to be like us,” Pierleonardi said. “We’re about the intimate experiences here. We’re never going to be a large winery like Stone Tower, it’s not even in the cards. We’re going to do what we do best and make sure the people who come here love it and want to come back.”
Firefly Cellars is located at 40325 Charles Town Pike near Hamilton and will be open Thursday through Sunday and offer a schedule of live music and food trucks.
Learn more at fireflycellars.com.