Monday, August 20, 2012

What Makes A Good Wine Shop Great?

A distributor prices and places bottles on the shelves.
The place was hopping at 10a.m..
This week I was out in Port Townsend as part of my day job, acting as the Director of Evergreen School of Professional Photography. As I’ve mentioned before, one of the things I love most about traveling out of town is the idea of going to new wineries and wine shops where ever I’m visiting. While in Port Townsend I found what I consider to be a “great” wine shop named the Wine Seller.

In talking with the shop’s owner, Joe Euro, I was totally enthralled with his story. Joe, a highly acclaimed guitarist was traveling the world, playing in resorts, and waiting tables. He was brought back to Port Townsend out of a “homesickness” that he just couldn’t shake. So, in 1982 he opened the shop on a shoestring.

Being out on the edge of nowhere, Euro had to make weekly trips into Seattle to actually pick up wines for his shop. It was tough. Selling wines back in the 1980s wasn’t an easy or kitchy thing to do like it is now. There were few wines from the northwest region, and people in general weren’t really into it like they are now.

Jumping thirty years ahead, you would never know that Joe had ever struggled. His shop is a virtual adult candy store with thousands of bottles of wines stacked carefully in every nook of the store. There is a full cooler in the back with awesome craft beers from the region, and a great selection of cheeses and meats in another cooler. I was there at 10 a.m., and the store was bustling with customers and distributors.

Joe Euro talks on the phone with a customer looking
for a hard to find wine.
What makes this store so great isn’t really a secret. It is the result of a dream and a lot of hard work. It is the result of a willingness to invest in success.

So many times I walk into a wine shop where there are one or two bottles of some wine, and a minimal selection. Wines from only the Northwest, or wines that are cheap and can be purchased in any grocery store for about half the price. Those store owners are running on a scarcity mentality, and a fear of failure.

What struck me was the enormous selection of wine. Everything from cases stacked high of Crane Lake at $2.99 a bottle in the front, to wines in locked cabinets ranging in the hundreds of dollars per bottle. The shop doesn’t just have a bottle or two of Leonetti. There are entire flights of the stuff, and cases of different vintages. Bottles of three, five, and seven liter magnums were available.

One of the ways you know you’ve entered a “great” wine shop is what you see when you walk in the front door. A “great” wine shop has a feeling of walking into a market place, with boxes stacked around on the floor in front of the shelves. Signs telling you what the wines are, and the great price you’re going to get on those bottles. The store feels almost overwhelming and exciting. You can’t wait to purchase a few bottles and come back tomorrow for more.

If you want to visit the store while in the area you’ll find it just off the ferry dock on Water Street downtown. You can also find out more, and actually buy wines on their website at


1 comment:

  1. I love the blog. Great post. It is very true, people must learn how to learn before they can learn. lol i know it sounds funny but its very true. . . Bryan


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