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March 13, 2018
#WomensWork Feature: Elaine Pivinski
Written by Kate Racculia
When Elaine Pivinski, fresh off of Woodstock, first saw the Bangor realtor’s listing for “35 acres, a house, a barn, an outbuilding and a one mile-long lane,” she didn’t see the future. She and her children’s father bought the property and “began the adventure” anyway, planting grapes without knowing how they would be harvested, or if they would even grow. “My thought at the time,” she says, “was at the very worst, I’d lose my home. If I succeeded…well, here I am.”
Pivinski is the owner of Franklin Hill Vineyards, an environmentally and socially conscious grower, producer, and marketer of wine of the highest quality and value. The first winery to open its doors in the Lehigh Valley in 1982, today you can find Franklin Hill’s wines and hard ciders state-wide at Wegmans, Giant, and Weis Markets. And they’re still growing. “We love change and like to have our foot in the future,” says Pivinski. “We’re always looking to improve. We’re very lucky to do what we do.”
That spirit, a mix of gratitude and persistence, guided Pivinski through the challenges. “I followed my dream,” she says, “by never losing focus of how I wanted my life to be.” As a single mother, she worked diligently to ensure she never missed paying a bill, and her family was a key support. “It’s important to have reasonable expectations and to set weekly goals that are attainable,” she advises. “If a loan is necessary, borrow within your means. Have an exit plan.” And trust yourself: her business plan, she says, was her intuition.
In the early years, having her business in the Lehigh Valley enabled her to support her two children. Now, it enables her to support 35 employees, and the local economy. “Our goal is to promote the growth and development of the Pennsylvania wine industry,” she says, “while remaining accessible and approachable, as we offer consumers the opportunity to enjoy the best fermented beverage on earth.”
Supporting women in business is also of great importance to her. “Through their skills, passions and desire, women can make a difference,” she says, not only to the Lehigh Valley’s economy and culture, but to each other as mentors. She hopes, through her life and her work, that she has set an example for other women, “to lead their best lives; to become the best version of themselves.” Believing in the future, after all, is what helps you create it.