Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to say our goodbyes. It has come time to lay the traditional wine retail model to rest. According to winemakers and retailers around the world, and Stephen Finch of Vagabond Wines in particular, the “traditional” model of wine retail is dying.
What would be considered ‘traditional’? Shelves upon shelves of wine bottles collecting dust while hoping to attract a passing customer. Wine tap rooms with more varieties and a more engaging atmosphere are edging them out.
More and more wine shops that offer on-site eating and drinking, bottle refills and creative tastings, giving customers a reason to not only come in, but to hang out for a while. Borough Wines of London, for example, is opening a new hybrid shop selling wine, beer and books this summer.
Borough Wines and other more creative, and perhaps more youthful wine merchants are beginning to rewrite what ‘popping into the wine shop’ means. Just as the craft beer craze has breathed new life into the ubiquitous, tired old liquor store, wine enthusiasts are creating their own enlivened spaces where conversation and discovery is encouraged.
Whether you pay the small corking fee to pop open a new bottle, or try different varieties from their stainless steel wine barrels and taps, these new or revitalized wine businesses invite you to pull up a chair, take in their atmosphere, chat with their resident sommeliers and discover the new world of wine retail.
So, while we stand at the grave of the traditional ‘wine shop,’ I think we can all raise a glass of rich, grapey goodness and toast “good riddance.”