What does a hair salon, furniture store, and dog boutique have in common? Surprisingly, the one element they all have in common is this: wine! For a variety of reasons, wine is being served in venues that are distinctly different from the usual bars, restaurants, and banquet halls. In California, a glass of wine is replacing the complimentary cup of coffee at hair salons, thanks to a new law allowing beauty salons and barbershops to serve beer and wine without a liquor license.
At Bark Fifth Avenue, a luxury boutique for dogs in Atlanta, Georgia, customers are served a glass of Chandon “on the house” while busily shopping for luxurious carriers, water dishes, beds, and other doggie essentials. According to Bark Fifth Avenue’s owner, Ashley Carestia, wine positively enhances the shopping experience, encouraging shoppers to linger and browse for extended periods of time.
In Sanford, Florida, one of the area’s most unique wine venues, The Imperial, is located at Washburn Imports, a furniture store. At The Imperial, located in the rear section of the store, there is furniture to sit upon or buy, fine food to eat, and 45 different wines to choose from.The unusual bar started out as a crazy idea that unexpectedly took off. According to The Imperial’s manager, Mike Smith, “Wine just goes well with imported furniture, for some reason!”
Paint and Sip
Wine has commonly been served at art gallery and museum functions so why not enjoy a sip or two of fine wine while decorating a festive wine glass? Based in New Hampshire, the mobile “paint and sip” company, Drinkable Arts LLC, hosts Home Paint Parties in private homes and Venue Paint Parties in country clubs, golf courses, craft stores, and other commercial venues across the nation. Cheryl Snyder, the owner of Drinkable Arts LLC, said that country clubs and golf clubs are a natural fit for “paint and sip” parties because not everyone who visits a golf or country club spends time on the golf course.
“While the husbands are out golfing, the ladies are in the lounges drinking wine and wanting something to do.”
Drinkable Arts is not licensed to sell or provide wine but enrollees often serve or order wine during painting parties, in keeping with Drinkable Art’s mission to “uncork your creative side” while learning to paint your own glassware.
Snyder said that vineyards are also an excellent fit for her company’s wine glass painting parties because they are licensed to sell wine and attract the type of clients who are more likely to enroll in a painting party.
“Duck Walk Vineyards on Long Island does events with us. We pretty much sell out every time. Everyone comes and they have a fun time. They sip and paint and do wine tastings.”
Snyder notices considerable differences in wine selections based upon the type of venue. She said that red wines are always popular at “Ladies Night Out” painting parties while fresh and crisp white wines are typically the wine of choice during fundraising events. Lately, she’s noticed a general trend towards rosé, across all venues.
Off the Beaten Path
In cities and towns across the country, wine is popping up in unexpected places, like the rustic barn located at Hazelfern Cellars in Newberg, Oregon. While there aren’t any horses or bales of hay in the barn, there is plenty of wine to drink. When the vineyard’s owners, Bryan and Laura Laing, renovated the barn, they merged two former horse stalls together to create an enchanting space where guests could enjoy a unique wine tasting experience.
During Tuesday night farm dinners in the main barn, guests gather around a rustic farm table sipping glasses of Pinot Noir while a curated Spotify playlist sets the mood for the night.
Far from Oregon, in a setting more urban than rustic—Detroit, Michigan—a population of 5 million residents earns the city a high ranking as one of the larger wine marketplaces in the United States. According to Shane Pliska, president of Detroit’s Planterra botanical conservatory, “Detroit doesn’t produce wine, but we consume it. Our conservatory is located in an upscale community north of Detroit where a large percentage of restaurant and liquor retail store owners live.”
The lush botanical conservatory operates as a retail plant store which doubles as an exotic venue for special events. A bougainvillea flowering vine stretching 14 feet tall greets visitors at the entrance and the vestibule is adorned with a festive profusion of blooming fuchsia flowers. Guests are served wine at a bar situated in front of the largest living wall of epiphytic plants, spanning 30 feet wide and 20 feet high. During wine events, Planterra sets up multiple bars for tastings and typically offers strolling appetizers, cheeses, and charcuterie selections.
“We are a unique venue. We offer an atmosphere that is relaxed, and frankly, a great place to drink wine. We’ve hosted events for many wine producers over the last several years.”
National branding executives from Penfolds, Wild Horse Winery, and smaller wine labels and local distributors have all held events in the lush, green space filled with 60-year old sago palms, jasmine, Australian tree ferns, ficus, and numerous other specimen plants that Planterra’s founder, Larry Pliska, has collected over the years.
“Wine distributors and vineyards have learned that they are more likely to attend a tasting event close to home, rather than at a traditional hotel venue in a business district.”
The Tasting Room Experience in a Can
Serving wine in unique settings is fairly routine for Julie Belardinelli, wine ambassador for the Boisset Collection’s limited production premium wines. Based in New Jersey, Belardinelli is tasked with transporting the tasting room experience to private homes and special events. On any given day, she could be pouring a glass of Pinot Noir at a country estate, charity fundraiser, or even at a warehouse.
In April of this year, the RealSource Association of REALTORS® held a Resourceful Night Out event at Ridgewood Moving Services in Mahwah, New Jersey. The unique event featured a wine and cheese tasting held within one of the moving service’s storage vaults. The event was advertised on the RealSource website and via affiliates sponsoring the event. To appeal to the varied tastes of the attendees, Belardinelli served four Boisett Collection wines: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and a red blend.
Belardinelli also hosted a Wine Down Wednesday wine tasting at the iCAN (Instant Containers As Needed) warehouse in Congers, New York. The “fine wine in a can” event featured wine served inside a storage container so realtors could understand how iCAN’s delivery system functions. Belardinelli selected three Boisset Collection wines for the event: a chardonnay, rosé, and a red blend.
The Future of Wine
During the past five years, wine’s growing presence has transformed it into a staple beverage in new and interesting settings. Even Taco Bell jumped onto the wine wagon when its Milwaukee Avenue, Wicker Park location in Chicago offered $4 cups of wine, starting in 2015.
A quick Internet search revealed a surprising variety of venues serving wine to patrons—from a movie theatre in California that started selling wine to adult patrons in 2017—to the Houston, Texas, Library Coffee and Wine House’s hybrid mix of books, wine, and coffee.
During an era in which corporations like Twitter serve wine on tap as a coveted employee perk, it’s vital for wine producers to keep up with the latest alcohol consumption trends and the increasing number of settings in which wine is being served. Wine’s expansion into new or unique settings is great news for the wine industry. Marketers seeking to expand and creatively market wine to a select audience can effectively utilize fresh and original venues to rise above the fray.
One company that is breaking new ground is the Union Wine Company, based in Oregon. Union Wine will be handing out wine samples at music festivals, store openings, and outdoor events this summer. What’s most unusual is the method that Union Wine is using to sample its wine. A specially appointed “Cabassador” will navigate a customized 1972 Citroën van on the ultimate “wine in a can” road trip. Along the lengthy coast-to-coast journey, the “Canbassador” will give away Union’s Underwood canned wine from the van’s mobile bar. That’s one pretty cool promotion!