Shop Window: October 2014

Remodels are unveiled in Pittsburgh and Hooksett, New Hampshire, Los Angeles gets a boutique bottle shop, and launches.

Pittsburgh’s newly refurbished Fine Wine & Good Spirits store is Pennsylvania’s largest state-run unit, covering more than 17,670 square feet.
Pittsburgh’s newly refurbished Fine Wine & Good Spirits store is Pennsylvania’s largest state-run unit, covering more than 17,670 square feet.

PLCB Rebrands Pittsburgh Unit

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) unveiled a newly remodeled Pittsburgh Fine Wine & Good Spirits store in August. The 17,674-square-foot space—Pennsylvania’s largest retail wine and spirits store—features a central table with display counters that show off new products and provide information such as a wine vintage chart and food pairing guides. The store offers 1,231 spirits SKUs and 1,802 wine SKUs, with an additional 2,202 luxury wine and spirits SKUs, and boasts two wine specialists. Spirits range from $4.99 a 750-ml. bottle of Montezuma Triple Sec liqueur to $2,899.99 for Louis XIII de Rémy Martin Cognac. Wines start at $6.99 a 750-ml. bottle for multiple brands and top out at $1,616.99 for the 2010 Château Lafite Rothschild. The store has a dedicated section for organic and Chairman’s Selection wines, the latter comprising highly rated brands offered at a discount of at least 30-percent below suggested retail price. In addition, wine glasses, corkscrews, pourers, wine saver pumps and other accessories are available. The store will offer weekly wine and spirits tastings, along with additional vendor sampling events.

Boutique Bottle Shop Opens In LA

A store focusing on boutique wines, craft beer and gourmet food opened in Los Angeles at the end of July. Founded by Danielle Francois and Jennifer Moore, Vintage Wine + Market stocks a selection of 60 wine SKUs and 30 beer SKUs that constantly rotates. Wine options emphasize organic, bio-dynamic and sustainable brands and range from a red blend from South West France’s Domaine D’Augeron ($10 a 750-ml. bottle) to a Barolo from Italy’s Giacomo Fenocchio ($65), with most bottles retailing around $20. Beer offerings include North Coast Brewing Co.’s Le Merle Saison ($10 a 750-ml. bottle), Brewery Ommegang’s Dubbel Abbey ale ($13 a four-pack of bottles) and Icelandic Einstöck White ale ($14 a six-pack of bottles). Customers can mix and match four- and six-packs, priced at $3 to $6 a bottle. The store also stocks high-end packaged foods, such as cheese, cured meat and jam, and shares weekly recipes and wine pairings, with customers receiving a 10-percent discount on the combined purchase of the suggested wine and ingredients. The store offers samples of products nightly and will launch a wine club this fall.

Online Retailer Offers Custom Picks, a new online retailer offering a selection of premium wines and spirits, went live in August. Founded by former Gilt Groupe wine consultant Jeffrey Meisel, the store’s 24 spirits SKUs range from Koval organic white rye whiskey ($45 a 750-ml. bottle) to the 2013 Samaroli Evolution pure malt Scotch whisky ($375). Wines other than Champagne are mostly available in groups of multiple 750-ml. bottles and include a two-bottle Scribe Winery collection ($75) and a set of three bottles of Giacomo Borgogno & Figli Barolo DOCG ($1,000). Champagnes range from the Gaston Chiquet Premier Cru Brut Rosé ($60 a 750-ml. bottle) to the 2000 Krug Brut ($236). The website also offers stemware, bar equipment and ready-to-mix cocktail kits. A special feature allows users to pre-purchase gifts with the recipient choosing from among several options.


New Hampshire Expands I-93 Stores

The New Hampshire Liquor Commission (NHLC) opened an expanded New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlet at the northbound Welcome Center on Interstate 93 in Hooksett in September, and at press time, a similar store on the southbound side was slated to open on October 3rd. Part of an overall renovation project for the Hooksett Welcome Centers, each new store more than doubles its previous size at 20,000 square feet. Spirits and wine selection has increased by 50 percent, with more than 1,270 spirits SKUs starting at $4.99 a 750-ml. bottle of DeKuyper Triple Sec liqueur and rising up to $4,999.99 for The Macallan M. Each store carries over 2,440 wine SKUs, ranging from $4.99 a 750-ml. bottle of Concannon Glen Ellen Chardonnay to $1,159.99 for the 2009 Château La Mission Haut-Brion Pessac-Léognan. The NHLC projects a combined sales increase of up to $6 million for the two locations, whose sales reached $34.6 million in the commission’s 2014 fiscal year, ended June 30th. Improvements include climate-controlled storage systems for fine wines, as well as a “trophy case” of ultra-premium spirits and a kiosk equipped with iPads to provide product information, scores and ideas for food pairing. The NHLC operates 77 stores across the state, and gross sales in fiscal 2014 hit a record $626 million. Traditionally, the NHLC has thrived on out-of-state customers. Sales in New Hampshire have continued to grow despite Massachusetts’ legalization of Sunday sales a decade ago and its elimination of alcohol sales tax in 2011.