As wine shops are becoming as ubiquitous as coffee bars, it’s the few innovators who attract a crowd.
In this issue, we salute three wine retailers who have made changes in perception to buying, collecting and enjoying the exchange of green for a taste of red and white.
(ART DIRECTION: ABOVE IS OPENER FOR PAGE 32)
Folio: At Retail
Napa in the Valley is a Treat and Retreat for Wine Lovers
Nelson and Elva Tucker enjoyed traveling to California’s wine country for years and upon their return would ruminate, “Too bad there’s nothing like this at home (in Southern California).”
The Tuckers enjoyed traveling the world, impressed by the aesthetics of bucolic vineyard sites and the access to buying and tasting on site. They shared these experiences by offering tastings in people’s homes. Playing host to a global array of wines, they named their business Napa in the Valley, taking their knowledge and spreading the word of palatable pleasure throughout the San Fernando Valley.
Nelson Tucker began designing a retail concept on his computer, borrowing ideas such as Roman arches, stone caves and vistas of vineyards as background setting for his store.
“It turned out almost exactly as we planned,” Nelson pointed out.
With wines from most of the major growing regions, Napa in the Valley, which just celebrated its first Anniversary in late November, on the corner of Corbin and Nordhoff in Northridge, still focuses its 1600-sku selection on California wines.
You can say that the Tuckers are still hosting an on-going party. Napa in the Valley is licensed for retail sales, but also for tasting. Its vast, L-shaped wine bar allows a themed tasting (by varietal or region) of five wines daily.
Customers clamor for the cozy lounges in mid-store and in back, set up living room style. A Vintner’s dining room caters private meals and the store’s innovative bridal registry is a boon to newlywed’s wine cellars.
“We wouldn’t have merely opened a four-wall floor-to-ceiling wine shop,” Nelson insisted. “Elva and I wanted to create an atmosphere that we would enjoy if this was someone else’s place of business. Napa in the Valley has become a place to meet and make friends, and share some great bottles of wine at the same time.”
Photo A: Nelson and Elva Tucker at the tasting bar. The mural behind them illustrates the name of the store: Napa in the Valley.
Photo B: “Therese Keating of Southern Wine & Spirits (pictured herewith Nelson Tucker) has made a huge impact here,” stated Nelson Tucker. “She informs us of upcoming wine trends and labels and volunteers her time to educate our customers.”