Wine and Cheese store. - Printable Version

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- amatrice - 12-20-2002 12:32 AM

We have recently sold our previous business and would like to start up vino and cheese shop (sell by the bottle, the glass with tasting).

Unfortunately, we do not have an education in either one of the two topics (just amateurs).

For example: Do I need a sommelier full time or can I consult with one of them to develop a 'wine list' and periodically update it?

I am signing up for sommelier classes but I know experience requires time.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!


- winoweenie - 12-20-2002 07:43 AM

Hi amatrice and welcome to the board. I admire your courage. Jumping into a business you know zilch about requires solid brass thingies. Also, IMHO, you're picking one of the top failure rate business' in the universe, and thar's with people who've been in it all their lives. I've never been in a wine bar with a sommelier. The odds of succes, again IMHO, are Zero,kaput, nada, in other words you have three chances....Slim, None, and the Chinamans. Sorry to be a party-pooper. Maybe someone else on the board can be more positive. WW

- amatrice - 12-20-2002 09:19 AM

Thanks for the response.

I guess it can only get positive from here!
Just kidding!

I agree about our ignorance in the matter, but I'm always thinking that expertise can be carefully 'purchased'. At least until you develop your own.

I live in Texas and around a 30 miles radius (about 350,000 people demo) there is not such a store anywhere. The only thing avail. are the usual Goody Goody and Centennials.

No charm, no personal touch, you know what I'm talking about.

Anybody has a success story?


- Innkeeper - 12-20-2002 10:16 AM

Don't want to completely rain on your party, but some advice would be handy. Sounds like you live in a good market. That's a plus. Limit your offerings and check the licensing requirements (understand Texas is a bear). A simple retail wine and cheese store with occassional tastings would be easier than a wine by the glass cafe.

You still need to learn a LOT about both wine and cheese before you give it any more consideration. Also check out in addition to the above, anything unique about distribution and wholesaling in the area.

In our state the distributors have territories divided up horizontally. Commerce and population runs along vertical lines (based on rivers and interstates). A fellow opened up a wine and picnic basket business on the Belfast waterfront a few years ago. His plan was to make his wares available to visiting yachtsmen. He lasted six months. His first mistake was to check a wineshop in Camden (20 miles south) for available wines, and then printed up his menu. You guessed it; different distributor. His next mistake was to fail to notice that Belfast, at least at the time, was the least favorite port of call on the entire Maine coast among yachtmen.

All this is just to point out to you, the kinds of challenges that can come out of left field.

- amatrice - 12-20-2002 02:35 PM

Great stuff. Thanks for the reply.

I agree with you, a LOT of research is going on down here. I am actually intrigued by the industry.

Texas is not a bear, it is THE bear when it comes to alcohol. I am originally from Italy and find these regulations and restriction insane....oh well.

Things like a 3-tier system? What is that? I have a lot to learn. I know my demographics pattern pretty well, however the how to server alcohol to them is another story.

I also agree that a wine/cheese store with occasional tasting is a lot easier than a by the glass cafe`. I'm checking the laws to see how the 'tasting' is regulated.

Thanks again. I'm sure I'll post of lot more questions.


- Auburnwine - 12-20-2002 05:48 PM

I think that the added value that comes from a small wine/cheese shop is reliable advice. The lads who have opened such a shop in our town know absolutely nothing and can offer no accurate insights. Their wines are several dollars more expensive than what I can get in the big city.

I pick up a couple of bottles every now and then just to support them, but generally end up telling them about the wines they have in stock.

I would think that it would be an awful business to enter, and that a lot of competition would come down on the side of price in this iffy economy.

- amatrice - 12-20-2002 07:01 PM


Auburnwine you make a very good point about the reliable advices.

I'm just amazed about the consistent negativity about this topic. I am sure all your opinions are well founded, but, my god, there must be someone reading this board that is succesfully running a similar biz.

Don't get me wrong, I'll take any advice I can get [img][/img] so thank you for all your replies.

Anyone from TX that has 'been there, done/doing that'?

Thanks again.


- hotwine - 12-20-2002 07:26 PM

I'm not in the business, but watched two of 'em go broke in this area over the last year. Both were situated in very upscale areas and seemed to be doing fine, then poof!

- casnco - 11-30-2003 05:42 PM

Well, a good deal of time has past and I wonder if you finally jumped in the terbulant waters. If so how is it going? I would love to hear a story of success.