Luminary Distilling opens Saturday near Erie

When Luminary Distilling opens Saturday, March 11, just outside Erie, it will be the first distillery in Erie County in nearly a century. Or at least, the first legal one.

But it’s to be followed next weekend by another one about 20 miles away in Edinboro.

And so the craft distilling boom arrives in Northwest Pennsylvania.

Luminary is in the new Fuhrman’s Plaza on U.S. Route 19 in Summit Township, just south of the city.

The distiller is a 33-year-old high school math teacher, Joel Normand, who has been brewing beer since he was old enough to drink that and dabbling in making spirits as well. He’ll run the production facility and tasting room with his wife, Maria DiSanza, who’ll also will keep her day job as an assistant physical therapist at UPMC Hamot.

Since he only started producing about a month ago, Mr. Normand is starting with a limited inventory of vodka, which he gave Erie’s nickname of “Gem City,” as well as an apple-pie flavored moonshine and a limoncello or lemon liqueur.

He hopes to expand into an array of spirits including brandies made with apple cider from his neighbor, Furhman’s Cider Mill.

Luminary will sell its products by the bottle as well as in mixed drinks. The couple will be selling Pennsylvania wine and beer, too, but won’t be serving food, though customers can bring food in. The space, which has seating for about 35 people who can look in through a window at the distilling operation, has two TVs and a shuffleboard table.

Mr. Normand, who teaches at Sharpsville High School, plans to eventually barrel-age some of his spirits, too, including the brandy and wheat whiskeys. “I want to stay away from corn,” he says. “I’m tired of the corn thing. I think it’s overdone.”

Winter hours 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday, 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 4 to 10 p.m. Friday. Learn more at

A similar distillery and tasting room is coming together on state Route 99 north of Edinboro called Cart/Horse Distilling. Jessica Lemmon (an Erie architect, 38) and her husband, John Fetzner (40, works in hydraulic/pneumatic equipment sales), just announced that they plan to open March 18 (from 1 to 10 p.m.), selling and serving white — unaged — spirits to start but also gradually adding brown ones such as whiskey.

For the opening, they expect to have ready Cart/Horse White, a “sugar wash shine with a hint of molasses.” That’s a base for the first two infusions — a traditional and a cinnamon mamajuana made with Domincan herbs and spices. They’ll also sell some small-batch shrubs and bitters, plus some local beer. In addition to Saturdays, they plan to be open from 6 to 11 p.m. Fridays and gradually expand their hours as they have more spirits to sell. 

Ms. Lemmon has some pedigree: Her great-grandfather made on his farm applejack that was well-loved, if not legal. Learn more at

Bob Batz Jr.:, 412-263-1930 and on Twitter @bobbatzjr.


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