The Importance of the Small Wine Shop

wineshopsign-773225.gifOne of the things I like the most about wine is the small shops that sell it. Yes there are big distributors and outlets, but it is amazing how important and interesting the network of small shops can be. While they may not have the selection of the larger stores, the small shops are communities that prove invaluable when it comes to learning about, talking about, or finding wine. If you are looking to learn more about wine, visiting your local merchant is a great way to do it and maybe make some friends in the process.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons that wine has been so slow in coming to the online table, is that it has always had the feel of a small and networked community in the real world. Much like the social communities now found on the web, this wine shop network is one of the few places in business today where they will make every effort to go out of their way to help you. As someone who is relatively new to the depths of wine, I’ve found it incredibly important to pick the collective brains of the owners of a small network of shops around where I live. Sure, some shops are better than others and you do have to experience a lot (visiting a lot of wine shops might not be the most terrible thing in the world), but by frequenting the shops near me I have been able to pick up on the knowledge of the staff and this has helped me accelerate my learning curve a great deal. I’ve also been pleasantly surprised by the recommendations of wine store staff.

Typically I’m skeptical when a store employee recommends a product to me. Perhaps it is the entrepreneur in me that wonders why they are telling me to buy this specific product and what’s in it for them. I can honestly say, though, that most of the people I’ve met who work in or own a wine shop do it out of love or passion, they genuinely love to share their experiences and their new finds; much like members of today’s online communities. Sure, some shops may get special benefits from pushing a certain wine (that’s good business) but on the whole I’m rarely disappointed by wines that the shops recommend to me.

When it comes to the wine shop I think it is important that a wine newbie find one they’re comfortable with. The shop can become a knowledge resource for you as you learn and the experienced staff there can become friends and mentors on your journey into wine. While you might pay a little more at your local shop than you would at a big box outlet, the knowledge you can gain and the people you can meet more than makes up for the money you would save by shopping elsewhere. The next step of course is to successfully transition this wonderful real world community to the world of web 2.0. Thankfully advances are being made with the advent of sites like Corkd, Calwineries, and Tastevine, which approach different segments of the younger market.

Now if someone were to ask me for my opinion on how the small wine shop could do a better job of staying in business, I’d take them back to my previous post. The details I’ve previously outlined apply as directly to the wine shop and the entire wine community as they do to the producers themselves. If any members of the wine community are still a bit unsure of how to make the leap or are interested in making the leap, feel free to contact us.

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Posted in Marketing, Passion, Wine | 9 Comments »

  • http://www.pinotage.org Peter May

    Perhaps this is one of the reasons that wine has been so slow in coming to the online table

    This may be true in the US but not in the UK. There are many small specialist wine merchants that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the web. They can import artisan wines in quantities too small for the main wine merchants and market them at low cost via the web.

    Obviously your main area of interest is the US but don’t go inventing the wheel again

  • http://www.pinotage.org Peter May

    Perhaps this is one of the reasons that wine has been so slow in coming to the online table

    This may be true in the US but not in the UK. There are many small specialist wine merchants that wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the web. They can import artisan wines in quantities too small for the main wine merchants and market them at low cost via the web.

    Obviously your main area of interest is the US but don’t go inventing the wheel again

  • http://pinstripes.wordpress.com Brad

    Very Interesting to hear that. Its always interesting to see how the US lags behind in certain areas of the wine world. It may have something to do with the relative sizes of the countries as well. Being that the US is larger it would seem much more difficult to develop the cohesive wine network of the UK. Who Knows?

  • http://pinstripes.wordpress.com Brad

    Very Interesting to hear that. Its always interesting to see how the US lags behind in certain areas of the wine world. It may have something to do with the relative sizes of the countries as well. Being that the US is larger it would seem much more difficult to develop the cohesive wine network of the UK. Who Knows?

  • http://www.winelifetoday.com Joel

    I wrote on a related topic on my blog talking about how wine buying has a “value chain” of sorts and that the “corner wine shop” is one of the few areas that actually completes the value chain and therefore represents the best way to get wine.

    Best wine recommendations?

    Whats the saying about great minds?

    Cheers!
    JOEL

  • http://www.winelifetoday.com Joel

    I wrote on a related topic on my blog talking about how wine buying has a “value chain” of sorts and that the “corner wine shop” is one of the few areas that actually completes the value chain and therefore represents the best way to get wine.

    Best wine recommendations?

    Whats the saying about great minds?

    Cheers!
    JOEL

  • http://domaine547.com Jill

    I agree that smaller wine shops are the way to go for newer drinkers. We’re making an effort to try to bridge that gap on the internet, by providing information along with a cool vibe, a comfortable setting for younger enthusiasts, and of course a place to buy wine. Please check us out if you haven’t already. We hope you like what you see at domaine547.com, and appreciate any and all feedback.

  • http://domaine547.com Jill

    I agree that smaller wine shops are the way to go for newer drinkers. We’re making an effort to try to bridge that gap on the internet, by providing information along with a cool vibe, a comfortable setting for younger enthusiasts, and of course a place to buy wine. Please check us out if you haven’t already. We hope you like what you see at domaine547.com, and appreciate any and all feedback.

  • http://barcelona.senorstag.com/indexb/999/barcelona_stag_weekends.htm barcelona stag nights

    I do think it is important for small wineries especially to spend the resources on having a tasting room, even if it is only open on weekends and can only fit 5 people.

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