2nd Place Prize: $40,000 cash

Mural City Cellars
Mural City Cellars (MCC) is Philadelphia's first female and Latinx owned urban winery, founded by myself, Francesca Galarus, and my partner Nicholas Ducos. We make minimal intervention wines with grapes sourced from within a 300-mile radius of Philadelphia. Our wines focus on lesser-known hybrid varietals that showcase the wonderful grapes the East Coast has to offer.Nicholas and I made our first wines in the Fall of 2019 in my mom’s garage. With our first vintage bottled, we signed a lease on a small production space meant to be ready mid 2020. When the pandemic hit, construction stopped, and we both lost our jobs. With the extra time on our hands and wine already in production, we committed to working full-time on getting MCC off the ground. We opened our doors for retail in January 2021 to an incredible reception and a line around the block.In a city like Philadelphia that is packed with breweries, bars, and other great places to enjoy locally made beverages, MCC has had to go above and beyond to attract guests and create an inviting place to enjoy our wine. A great example of accomplishing this is the seasonal Wine Garden that MCC ran for the last two summers. In 2022, while still a small and growing business, we were given the opportunity to work with a local non-profit and activate an empty lot two blocks away from our production facility. The lot was bare bones with no infrastructure. Through lots of sweat equity–long days in the garden with our small team cleaning the place, landscaping, and working with our partners to restore a 1940’s trolley car into a functioning bar–we were able to transform the garden into a bustling, family-friendly oasis for neighbors to gather and enjoy our wine and other PA-made beverages.Operating for two seasons, we successfully partnered with local musicians, food vendors, arts and craft markets to elevate our guest’s experience at our wine garden as well as give visibility to other small businesses in our neighborhood. We also worked with non-profit partners to bring community events to the space such as family movie nights, kid's crafts, and sing-a-longs. Finally, a portion of wine sales from the garden were donated straight back into neighborhood initiatives. To date we’ve given over $15,000 to the East Kensington Neighbors Association, Fishtown Neighbors Association, New Kensington Community Development Corporation, and The Mural Arts Project.MCC’s summer wine gardens have been a huge success and allowed us to reach new customers and increase revenues. We created ten new seasonal jobs in the neighborhood that started at $20 per hour pay, as well as sustained three full-time salaries. Our perseverance to run these pop-ups has paved the way for MCC to expand and open a new permanent location in our neighborhood. We could not be more excited to draw on our experiences and connections with other local small businesses to ensure our new space continues to be welcoming and inviting to our neighbors.