By Maureen Hart
Sam and Marlene Sebastianelli may reside in the Mid Valley, but their lives have become intrinsically woven into the fabric of Dunmore.
Sam, a 2001 graduate of Wilkes University with a pharmacy degree, is in his 15th year as owner and pharmacist at Dunmore Pharmacy, located at 702 N. Blakely Street.
Marlene, who holds a degree in speech pathology as well as an MBA from Marywood University, is owner of Case Quattro Winery, which just opened a branch store right next door to her husband’s pharmacy.
“It’s a long story,” Marlene, who also has a certificate in nursing home administration, explains, when asked how the two ended up in such contrasting businesses in Dunmore.
For Sam, son of Sam and Helen Sebastianelli of Jessup, it began after he graduated from Scranton Prep and Wilkes and took a position at a Tunkhannock pharmacy.
“I traveled back and forth for about 18 months, and it was a long drive, especially in the winter,” Sam recalls. “So I decided to look for something closer to home, which led to my opening a Medigap Pharmacy, which then became Dunmore Pharmacy.”
For Marlene, daughter of John Stranieri and Patricia Heffley, the path which evantually led her to winemaking grew out of a serious encounter with breast cancer.
“I was working in nursing home administration, which is a stressful 24-7 kind of job,” she explains. “When I got breast cancer, I was ill for a long time, with chemo and radiation, and a grueling series of 13 surgeries.”
At the worst point, Marlene suffered an infection during reconstruction surgery, and for awhile, it was thought she might not survive.
“I mean, it was at the point where my kids said their goodbyes,” she says. “But I got to the ICU in time, and I feel very lucky to be here now.”
Wanting to keep herself occupied after the long bout of illness, Marlene decided she and Sam should take a wine course together. She discovered that she had a knack for the wine making process, and instead of opening another pharmacy in a building on their property on Main Street in Peckville, Marlene opted to open Case Quattro three and a half years ago.
She is mostly self-taught, and says the most important thing to know is the age of the grapes when they are picked. She orders most of her grapes and juice from California and Italy.
When her new business began to take off, Marlene made a choice to leave her stressful nursing home career to work full-time in her winery, where she serves as main winemaker and marketing director.
At the Peckville site, Marlene has hosted graduation parties, reunions, showers, comedy nights, craft events, and wine tastings, and has sponsored wine bus tours to local wineries (the next one is scheduled for Sept. 8–call 570-382-3855 for details).
When the location next to Dunmore Pharmacy became available — it was previously the home of a gift store and a tobacco shop–Marlene decided to take another plunge this summer and open a second wine shop in Dunmore.
“It just seemed like a good opportunity,” she explains. Her husband, who is usually very busy at the pharmacy, is supportive of his wife’s enterprise, and both enjoy the opportunity to pop over to see each other when there is any lull during the day.
Marlene is using her experience at the original location to fashion ideas for the new place, starting with Happy Hour Fridays each week from 5 to 7 p.m. She also hosts open mike nights, and encourages visitors to order or bring food to the store to enjoy with their wine selections during special events.
She stocks a wide variety of more than 36 wines, from dry whites (including Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Riesling); dry reds (her personal favorites are Oak Merlot and Pinot Noir), as well as sweet reds and whites; blush (White Zinfandel, Pink Moscato, Sangria), and Sweet Fruits including strawberry, peach, apple, pear, pomegranate, blackberry, raspberry and more.
The name for Case Quattro, which means “four houses” in Italian, was inspired by Sam’s family history. He has visited northwest Italy, where there are four Sebastianelli family houses on Isola Fossara. Marlene chose that as the name of the winery, and secured an artist to draw a mural of the four houses on the wall of the new establishment.
Sam is active in the Dunmore Lions Club, and his wife also likes to help the community. She recently raised $9,000 holding a benefit for a Dunmorean friend who has Stage 4 lupus, and she likes to use the winery to raise monies for local sports teams.
With the help of a few part-time employees, Marlene keeps the Dunmore location open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fridays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturdays from 1 p.m.. to 9 p.m. She is open on Sundays by appointment and four events.
The Sebastianellis have been married for seven years, and Marlene has two teenage daughters, Danielle and Jessica, who attend Scranton Prep. In addition to her busy career, Marlene has also been finding time to take her oldest daughter, who is interested in political science, to visit prospective colleges, including Temple, St. Joseph’s and Holy Cross.
“Danielle, who will be 18 in October, is very excited to be able to vote for the first time,” Marlene reveals.