Updated: Jun 5, 2022
Have you ever heard of the place Shangri-La?
a Tibetan utopia in James Hilton's novel Lost Horizon (1933). NOUN
a place regarded as an earthly paradise, especially when involving a retreat from the pressures of modern civilization.
Shangri-La has become synonymous with any earthly paradise, particularly a mythical Himalayan utopia – an enduringly happy land, isolated from the world.
In the 1933 novel Lost Horizon by English author James Hilton the people who live at Shangri-La are almost immortal, living hundreds of years beyond the normal lifespan and only very slowly aging in appearance. (More on this part later).
In other words, your "happy place".
Well, I think I find my Shangri-La, alive and well and thriving in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Good Mansion Wines owned and operated by Dominick Cerrone since 2006 is everything Shangri-La is, except mythical.
I didn't know what to expect when my friend Paige Stoehr, (of the "Doughnuts of the World Unite" Carol of Moon blog about Polish Paczkis fame) a native to the Wheeling area told me we were going to her friends' wine shop.
She always doted on the shop's uniqueness and quality of product. I often wondered if her statements were true. I trust Paige's opinion on quality items; if she says it's better than others that she's been to, it is probably true. But how?
How could Wheeling have something better than Pittsburgh?
Well, my friends, they do.
Named for the prominent downtown Wheeling department store owner LS Good who built the three-story Victorian mansion in 1905 in which the wine shop resides, Good Mansion Wines is nothing but spectacular.
You're greeted on a red carpet, from sidewalk to porch, like a special guest of honor. The shop's 28 stained glass windows aren't visible at first glance, but the impeccably manicured yet sustainable landscape invites you right in... as do the bull dogs who guard the entrance.
It seems original features have been well preserved and rightfully so. In 1989 the National Register of Historic Places honored its preservation by including it on their list. The immortality Shangri-La exhibits shows in the building itself. Rumor has it, the partners are as old as the house. (just kidding. They surely appear energetic and physically fit. Considering the shop is open seven days a week, 9am-7pm daily, I can't imagine the fatigue that can set in. I was exhausted just by watching them move about the store)
Maybe the sweet nectar of immortality is in one of those bottles of wine. I'm guessing the Brut Blanc de Bleu, Cuvee Mousseux-- I'm buying that next time I'm at the shop. ;@P
Speaking of lists, this place has some great ones.
Let's start with the front of the shop: wine...
...from nearly every region of Italy. I was blown away with how many wines I did NOT know. In most wine stores you'll see 'Italian' and 'French' sections and within those sections, both red and white. Not at GMW.
The selections were arranged by regions. You want to make polenta or white asparagus tonight? GMW could suggest a wine from the Veneto region of Italy.
Perhaps white truffle risotto is on the menu. They have a great selection of wines from the Piedmont region.
I could go on and on with the wine/food pairings. But there's more. From the sparkling wines that greet you at the door to the Spanish wines that reside near one of several fireplaces to the olive oils and jarred sauces for pasta all'Amatriciana, it's a well-organized display of choices. German wines and other regions of the world are also represented. Dominick suggested a red from Armenia for me. (It was spectacular!)
And that's just the front of the shop.
The middle room has imported dried pastas for soups and sauces and flat breads as well as American wines.
The entire wine collection has price points for every budget. Please don't be intimidated by the varieties. Everyone working at GMW was extremely friendly and proprietor Dominick Cerrone will personally hand pick selections to fit your needs.
His knowledge is immense and his ego, tiny. So don't be afraid to ask questions, give your likes/dislikes and price points. It seems to be the "judgement free" zone and incredible customer service that keeps his patrons loyal and new customers coming back.
But wait; there's more!
We haven't even stepped foot into the charcuterie shop yet.
On my visit our cheese monger was Olivier. (Did I mention he's also the pastry chef/baker?)
My deer in the headlights look on my face must be something he sees often. I was incredibly overwhelmed (in a good way) by the number of choices in each category of cheeses--which were organized exactly how they should be.
Once I took a deep breath, I was able to focus and with a little help from his suggestions, I picked three beautifully stinky, farmy, and sharp selections.
Now did I mention their salumi selection? Iberico ham (Iberico De Bellota) that tastes like you’d died and gone to heaven. Made from acorn-fed, free range, 100% Ibérico pigs from the dehesa (wooded pasture) of Valle de los Pedroches outside of Cordoba, Spain. The pigs roam the pasture feasting on acorns from Encina Oak trees, contributing to the sweetness of the meat and high oleic acid and Omega-3 content. The melt in your mouth goodness is treated with such respect thanks to the precisely thin and impeccably packaged workmanship of Olivier. Along with the made in house terrines and sausages, they have every type of cured meat you can imagine.
Oh but wait! There's more...
The bakery/sandwich shop...the final section of the first floor.
A sweet-tooth's dream!
You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? I'm going to let photographs of Good Mansion Wine's sweets and fresh pasta speak for themselves. I cannot describe them as well as they can show you just how delicious they are.
A large bakery/cafe in the rear offers French desserts and pastries made by the resident pâtissier from Paris, as well as homemade French baguettes and breads, homemade egg and semolina pasta. Not to mention the Thierry Atlan macarons and chocolates and Italian coffee drinks.
Throughout the bake shop section, there are several different in-house breads made daily, pastries and fresh pastas. Collections of balsamic vinegars, imported olive oils and dried pastas Trofiette, from Liguria Italy. This hand-rolled, air-dried pasta made on a family farm on Italy's sun-drenched Ligurian coast from the finest durum wheat flour is traditionally served with basil or walnut pesto. This simple but elegant pasta is undeniable due to the top-notch ingredients.
We ended our lovely journey through the mansion with lots of food and wine to take home. Boxes of goodies to be exact. And once home, the charcuterie didn't last long; so, a trip to Shangri-La is in the cards again very soon. Who wants to join me?
95-14TH STREET WHEELING, WV 26003
304 233 2632
OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK
9 AM to 7 PM
Lunch served daily from 11 AM – 2 PM
Did I mention they have an on-line shop?
That's great but if you can, make the journey to Wheeling...you will be glad you did!!