When Joe and Nancy Mezza opened their winery in the middle of an industrial area in Sterling Heights last year they had no idea how busy they would be. Now, one year in, the couple behind Buon Amici can barely keep up with demands from home winemakers and customers at their tasting room.
Joe Mezza has been making wine for 15 years, and the pair started their retail business Macomb Vintner Supply in 2007, supplying home winemakers with equipment and ingredients from California, Italy and South America. It wasn’t long before they wanted to branch out.
“I had long wanted to open a winery because I think my husband's wine is delicious,” says Nancy Mezza.
In 2017 the Sterling Heights husband-and-wife team decided to open Buon Amici (Italian for “good friends”) on Phoenix Drive, with Joe Mezza managing the wine-making supplies and Nancy Mezza running the tasting room. After initially struggling to find premises that would suit both businesses, with a warehouse large enough to produce wines and space for a tasting room, the solution was found in an industrial area.
“While it's a bit off the beaten path, that's rather typical for wineries around the country and people are having no problem finding us thanks to word-of-mouth and the internet,” says Nancy Mezza.
They admit in a city that usually deals with large-scale industries like Ford Motor Company and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles, it was sometimes hard to progress a small business. “It was also a bit of a learning curve when it came to navigating the government requirements to open the winery,” says Nancy Mezza.
One of the core values the Mezza’s subscribe to is making wine approachable for everyone and while most of their customers hail from the tri-county area some travel from Traverse City to taste their wares.
“We pride ourselves on taking the time to give customers the opportunity to experience and learn about wine in a comfortable and down-to-earth way,” says Nancy Mezza. When a customer asks “what makes a good wine?” they respond with “The best wine is the one you like”.
This fall the couple have added Michigan varieties to their sources, and are about to go into grape-crushing season. For the moment, they are busy establishing the business but say there’s room to grow.
“One couple, who are in the military, told us they were being stationed in Alaska and wanted to know if we would ship them our wine,” says Nancy Mezza. “Unfortunately, we don't ship out-of-state at this time, but who knows what the future holds?”