Alright guys, welcome to another episode of live with a cork in the road and I'm Kelly. I'm your wine Explorer here in Atlanta, Georgia and I am chatting with people who are shaping the southeast wine industry
Hello, welcome to episode 115 of the a cork in the road Podcast. I'm Kelly, your host based in Atlanta, Georgia and today my guest is one of the very first wine connections I ever made when I moved to Atlanta in 2013. In fact, she owns one of the very first wine shops I ever shopped at here in the city. I got to sit down with Steffini Bethea, the owner of purple corkscrew, a retail wine shop and tasting room lounge located in Avondale Estates just about 10 minutes away now from my house here in Atlanta that opened in 2012. So she just celebrated 11 years of business and we reminisce about the early days of opening the shop and what the wine scene was like at the time in the city. We talk about her role as the owner, but also as the Chief Curator of wines and what that entails and how it has evolved over the years. Steffini loves traveling for wine. So you'll hear how those experiences influence her ability to share wise with our customers who truly do lie at the center of this business. She even moved locations in the early years to be closer to where her clients were living so cool. So I hope you enjoy this episode as it was a long time coming and such an honor to have her on the show. This episode is generously sponsored by Diane carpenter and Ross Knoll vineyard in Sonoma County who make it possible for me to expand the capabilities of the show like doing live audience recordings. In addition to producing my wine education events around the city. We are so excited to share the 2022 vintage of Pinot Noir which will be released early next year. This includes the Russian River blend in addition to two new 100% new oak 100% single vineyard Pinot Noir is a Green Valley Calera clone and a Russian River 100% Mount Eden clone. You can follow @acorkintheroad and @rossknollvineyard on Instagram to be the first to know when you can join the waitlist for ordering these wines. I will also post links to joining the waitlist and all other ordering details on www.acorkintheroad.com because we are already scheming about an Atlanta event to share these new wines in early 2024. So there's a lot to look forward to from this portfolio and from Diane who has always supported the show and I'm thrilled about what's to come so definitely stay tuned. Now speaking of events, there's a lot coming up and a lot to look forward to from A Cork in the Road, LLC as well. So I'm going to do my best to keep you updated or a monthly newsletter and on social media. But right now you can find tickets on acorkintheroad.com for an event I'm doing on Wednesday, October 4 In partnership with Chef Pat Pascarella of the porchetta group in the Epicurean theater we are participating in the giving kitchens dine with gratitude campaign happening this October supporting food service workers by hosting a gnocchi night out or chef Pat will be teaching you how to make gnocchi with three different sauces and I'll be doing three different wine pairings will be so fun. So make sure that you grab tickets to have fun and support a great cause. I'm also going to be hosting the Atlanta screening for the new film in the Somm documentary series called cup of salvation. And we are going kind of all out for this. So you're gonna want to save the date. I've rented out the plaza theater for the evening of November 1, and there will be welcome bubbles included in general admission tickets as well as a very limited VIP option that includes a pre screening reception. So keep an eye on @acorkintheroad on Instagram and also on acorkintheroad.com for all of those ticket updates and links. I'm also heading back to North Georgia on October 14 to host the next class in my blind tasting series at Limoges cellars and this month's lineup will be all about exploring the world of sparkling red wines. So you'll have a chance to see if you can identify which one is the new sparkling Chambourcin that was just released by Dan and Kristina hof LImoges Cellears when compared to other Lambrusco and sparkling red wines from around the world. So yes, a lot on the calendar already and a lot more to come actually this fall season. So I hope you enjoy today's episode and I appreciate any rating or review that you're able to contribute to the show wherever you listen to the podcast because it always helps more people discover the show. So cheers to Steffini and purple corkscrew for being on the show, and the next episode will be available on October 12. So please subscribe, share with your friends and get ready for some really fun episodes coming out to close out the rest of the year. Cheers and I will talk to you soon
it is so great to see you. Thanks for being on the show. You were just traveling too!
Oh yeah, I was just in Chicago for the weekend.
Last time I saw you you were helping me pick out a beautiful bottle of Burgundy and then we finally were able to match our schedules to make this recording happen.
It's been years in the making, right?
It has been! A little less burgundy for this sit down chat but you did help me pick out a bottle and I was like okay, let's lock our calendars. right now so here we are. So you just also celebrated a huge milestone you celebrated 11 years. 11. Steffini!
It's exciting. I can't believe it. It seems like yesterday we were over in Emory village, but and here we are. 11 years later, still going strong.
I was thinking about this before we hopped on this call. I actually met you. When I first dropped in to that previous location over by Emory.
Yeah, why not run?
Yes, we were out there doing some exercise and then stopping in to go wine shopping. Because that's what do
you guys would run then you'd come in and drink?
Sounds about right. Yes, and we'd have snacks with you. But we were staying in our sneakers and running gear. And then we would come and have wine, but that was over by Emory. And that seems like ages ago.
That was about eight years ago.
Oh my goodness. Okay, so now you are in this new space. But how did you land on Avondale Estates as the second home for Purple corkscrew?
Well, what I learned being at Emory is that what everyone says is correct location, location, location. And so that particular spot was just not, you know, didn't have good parking. It just wasn't. But also at the same time, I was trying to feel my way out. I didn't really know what I didn't know he didn't know. So I was just looking for a neighborhood that did not already have a wine shop. And I wanted that neighborhood to kind of match the demographic of the Emory neighborhood. So I looked at I was able to find out where all of my customers came from that didn't live right around Emory. And this was one of the main places where they came. And it just so happened that there was a wine shop down the street, and it just closed a few months before and maybe six months prior. And all of my customers that lived in Avondale were like you need to come to Avondale this shop, the other little shop closed and you got to come to Avondale. So I came over here and I actually looked at the same space that the other wine shop was at. And it was nice. But I saw this space was available and it had parking and it's a freestanding building. And I just thought that was the best fit for the purple corkscrew.
Kind of a jackpot situation. You say parking was the first thing of magic, which is so true when you're pulling up to a wine shop. And yeah, oh, shopping parking is kind of key.
Unless you're in a running group. And you don't need to park when you go for your wine. But I totally get that and you actually were using data of where your customers were and you followed their footsteps. That is so awesome. Do you still have customers from that first shop that show up with you now?
Oh, yeah. Yeah, a lot of them. I measured it to and it's like 4.1 miles from door to door from the old place to the new place. So that's not too bad. Like one street. You know, just come on down North Decatur.
If you had the wine, they were gonna follow you or wherever you ended up next. Okay, well then, given that you opened and I'm doing quick math 2012. Yes, I do that right. Okay. So make sure my math is correct. Here. Give me some Atlanta wine history. What was the wine scene like at that time? In 2012? When you were in Emery village, where were people buying their wine? Where were you buying your wine?
Well, before 2012 I used to get my wine from when I was splurging. I was getting it from Whole Foods. And I was going to the grocery store getting wine. And then I found this wine bar restaurant in Dunwoody actually started working there part time. And I learned a lot more about wine just working there. And so I worked there for a few months. And then I said, You know what, I can do this, I could do this myself. And it looked easy. But I realized very quickly that it's not as easy as it looks.
So that's how you found it. You were just kind of part time. But there wasn't this local small wine shop scene that we now have in Atlanta. You didn't see that back then.
Not really, I did what I call field trips. And I would go to like every wine bar, you know, just kind of in metro Atlanta, so I visited all of them. And there weren't as many as there are now. I mean, there were liquor stores, but there weren't just you know, wine bars or wine shops. So I went and visited a number of them. And the one thing that I noticed is that nobody had the concept that I had, at that time. I just viewed what everybody else had. I knew I wanted to do something different. I didn't want to do it. exactly what you know the other wine shops were doing. So I looked at what they were doing created my own concept. And here we are. But yeah, it was there weren't that many wine shops, and there was only one black owned wine shop. And that was in Marietta. And I think she closed shortly after I opened.
So you thought, hey, this is a space, and I have the skills. And I can do that.
Right? It was something that no other black person was doing. So I was, that was exciting to me, too, which is so cool
So cool to hear you say that? Because you didn't see it. So you thought you still could I feel like, you know, if I think I can't do it, and I'm not thinking about to do it. I might just give up on it. But you were like, no one's doing it. So that means I can, yeah, it takes, it takes a vision. And I know that you had a vision when you set out to create this space of your own. So what were some of the original goals? You mentioned, the concept that you didn't see. So for your own shop, what were some of those initial goals.
Initially, I always just wanted to provide a place that seemed like it was an extension of my home, I enjoy entertaining, I didn't want it to be stuffy. I just wanted it to be comfortable. And I wanted people to want to be here, whether they were buying retail wine, or whether they were sitting down and enjoying a flight. I wanted them to be comfortable. I initially thought I was going to sell like a bunch of tchotchkes and stuff like that wine books, you know, wine, whatever. And I did, I got a little bit of that. But then I realized, okay, I don't want to keep inventory like that. And I decided, Okay, I'm gonna keep the main thing, the main thing, which is just wine. That's just all we do. And in Sarchu eatery, but yeah, I just like we're gonna keep the main thing, the main thing, and not try to be a gift shop wine shop, you know, place.
But you mentioned that it's this gathering space and having events and having tastings and that kind of thing. And I'm, I'm thinking about all the events that I have gone to, at your space, and it's much more of that concept of people hanging out for a while. So looking back. Now, is there something that you know, about working in this business that you wish you would have known in those early days,
um, I guess I wish that I could have come into it with the relationships that I've established over the years, because the relationships you've built in this business is really, really key. I mean, apart from expanding and developing, and constantly working on your palate, it's really the relationships that make the business part of this so much easier. So I wish that I could have come in already with those relationships before I got started, because it took a while it took a long time.
Oh, I can imagine that's very wise to hear you now 11 years in, and you have built these relationships now. And you're recognizing that that's a huge part of owning the retail wine space. And you didn't have that when you started.
No, I didn't. And it was difficult, I guess, initially, for people to even take me seriously. Because, you know, they hadn't been a black woman doing this, or it was they knew that it was a rarity. And so it just took a long time to, you know, just for me to, again, get them to take me seriously and create my own relationships with you know, with certain people. And that's the most important thing.
That's interesting. You read my mind, I was actually going to ask you what were some of the biggest initial hurdles that you had to overcome. When you open the business. And you mentioned a key one of people just not knowing who you are and what you were about. Were there any other hurdles?
Well, like I said, the location that I was in initially wasn't great. So I had to learn how to bring people in without a big marketing budget or anything like that. And so once I got that down, that is how we started doing more events, I realized, okay, I can do these events, and then that'll get more people coming in. So that was a hurdle. Again, just getting people to know that we're there and then not knowing anybody. So I couldn't ask somebody, you know, I didn't have any mentors. There wasn't anyone that I knew that I could ask any questions. So it was really just OJT. For me just on the job training.
What were some of the things that you did to then start building those relationships?
I took a lot of notes. I did a lot of listening. I immersed myself into everything if I was, you know, wanting to cultivate a relationship with a specific representative, a sales representative, I made sure I asked them a lot of questions. I wanted them to understand that. What I don't know. I'm not afraid to admit that And that I look to them as an expert to help me. And so the more I know, the better selections I can make, and then that's better for the sales rep as well. So once I just started doing going about it that way and meeting more reps and just immersing myself in everything line that kind of helped out a lot.
Knowing your interest and showing that you aren't afraid to ask questions, talk about a golden skill from a business owner to so you're growing together, I'm like, I need you to help me so I can help you.
So speaking of the representatives, that now you do have 11 years of relationships with these distributors here in Georgia, as the type of wine that you sourced, changed over the 11 years? And if it has, in what ways would you say from the early days to now what types of wine are you bringing into the shop?
I think that the wine that I have in the shop has grown with my palate. And I think that my customers, palates have grown with me as well. And so I mean, because we have a lot of repeat business. That's a good thing. Because I'm able to, you know, as I find out something new, or I try something new, then I'm able to get my customers to try that as well.
What was your early palate versus now, like 11 years, you said that it grew with you. Like what were you buying before?
I know, I was buying more jeez, a lot of California, a lot of big over extracted reds, and a lot of wine that was under 20 bucks. Yeah, so just the more I grew and my palette group, and then I started getting into more of old world lines. And then I started at the base level with that, and just kind of worked my way up to just where we are now we have a little bit of everything. And and I haven't obviously you never know everything in wine, but I'm still searching for that next great burgundy.
We all are all chasing the next amazing wine moment. I definitely feel that. But speaking of that, because I know that you not only are a full time business owner, but at some point, you also were sparked to pursue your own wine education. Was it simultaneous to opening the shop that you started doing the formal education? Or was that something that you did prior to the business or what moved you into these formal education like was that simultaneous or before the business?
It was after I had been in the business for a few years. And I think once I moved here to Avondale so about three years and I decided that it was time to start getting you know, some certifications because that too would help to better legitimize myself. And so I just started taking the W set exams. And then two years ago, I started actually a Viticulture and Enology program in Washington State. I've finished my whole entire viticulture part, and I was supposed to go to Washington State to do the analogy part for nine months. But unfortunately my dad came to live with me he got sick and came to live with me. So now I have to put off the analogy part until all of this is resolved. But I really enjoyed the viticulture part of it and you learn I mean, it makes all the W set stuff make sense. So when I complete that program, then I'll have an associate's degree in viticulture and analogy.
So excited. I actually didn't know this. I knew that you had a background in biology and you had a degree in biology. Is there any relationship between what you knew from your undergraduate days? Is there any kind of synergistic learning process to both of those worlds?
Absolutely. I mean, biology and viticulture. You know, viticulture is just an subset of biology. You know, the main thing we study a lot of about organic matter. So you have to know that I knew that from biology, so that helped a lot. I've had a lot of chemistry. So there's a lot of chemistry involved in viticulture, which I had no idea and that there was so much chemistry involved in it, and formulas and math. And so that definitely already having that behind me definitely helped. I don't think I would have been able to just jump into it had I not studied it before in in undergrad.
Oh, you had a baseline you had an advantage. Stephanie coming into this program. So that program is to be continued because if you have an interest in that It's elevating, I love that you say it makes what you were learning in the courses come to life and make a little bit more of that foundational sense. Right? I know, I know that you go to places to see wine and action to you travel a lot, but then you also even worked a harvest why working harvest? Stephanie, what made you do that?
Well, again, I was in Walla Walla, Washington, just I just wanted to learn everything that I could about this, I think it's interesting that the wine that we have in the bottle came off of this vine that's planted in this dirt. Oftentimes, in some country, that's, you know, 1000s of miles away. And now here it is, you know, on my shelf or in my glass, and I wanted to see just exactly how that happens. I think it makes the wine taste better. Actually. When you explain you experience, work and harvest, then you can better appreciate every glass of wine that you have, because you know what it took to get it to your glass. I just loved it. It was a lot of work, though. It's not easy. You know, I felt like a farmer.
Well, you were I mean, technically, yeah.
winemakers are farmers and chemists put together but yeah, it was, it was fun. It's a lot of hard work. A lot of times, people think everything wine is sexy. And that is just nothing could be further from the truth. They're long days now that you know, the benefit is when you're done, you eat well and drink well. But it's hard work,
Well and you left with an appreciation for those wines and the work involved. So now, in your shop, I'm sure you bring this up when people are questioning a wine versus another wine or even you can speak to price points about why this wine might cost more and what's entailed. So I feel like that knowledge you're just gonna carry throughout the retail world immensely now.
Oh, yeah. Anything I can pick up outside of the shop. I mean, you know, everything's not in here and everything's not in a book, either. You know, you have to feel soil, you have to see a vine, you've got to, you know, get in a soil pit. These, you know, put grapes in the D stem or all these things make a difference and helped me to better sell wine to my customers.
Yeah, you're speaking that language. And you're speaking from a personal experience for that. And I know not only not only for working that you've gone to wine regions, I know that you enjoy traveling, we share this we like to go travel for wine regions and see them in person. So I feel like I have to ask because you've been you've kind of been around the world for this. Was there a region that you knew you wanted to go to but it was better than you ever could have imagined in person,
I would say the Rhone Valley, I was able to do a tour, an eight day wine trade show and the Rome Valley. So we started up in Ampuis and went all the way down to actually went down to Provence. And so we were in Hermitage, so I got to see a lot of Cote Rotie which I loved. We got to taste a ton of Marsanne, Roussanne, Viogner, Syrah, and I just couldn't believe it in and we were the Cote Rotie was from I just never imagined that the way that the vines were set up. I mean, they're practically straight up and down. So they still use mules to get the grapes off the vines to pick the grapes. I just thought that was amazing. And it was beautiful, too. But I just thought that was amazing. Like, I would have never thought that it worked like that.
You can hear oh, wow, it's a really steep valley. But until you see how dangerous it would be to be up there picking grapes, you don't know it without seeing it. That makes sense.
I think that is the main area that really really surprised me.
You said a lot of my favorite grapes just now you said all my Rhone whites and my Syrah like you were just speaking my love language. So I know that you have a title at the shop. Yes, you own the place. But I also love that you are the chief curator of the wines. I love this title so much. So what to you, does that entail?
Well, we taste myself and my manager Raquel, we taste about 50 to 75 wines a week. So we meet with distributors on Wednesdays and Thursdays we taste through wines. We have an idea of what we're looking for. But most times you don't know what you what you need until you taste that you got to have that one. And so we taste and then we just pick from that what it is that you know we're going to order and because we do wines by the flight as well as retail One of the benefits that we have is that we can put those wines people might not have otherwise tried on our tasting menu, in hopes that they will enjoy it and then buy it retail. I mean, you don't know that you need a Falanghina until you taste a Falanghina . And if you've never had it, you're not gonna go to the restaurant necessarily, you know, most people will not go to the restaurant and drop 15 or $16 on a glass of Falanghina without having the slightest idea of what it you know, what it is, where it's from, and what it tastes like. So again, we have the benefit here of allowing people to kind of try before they buy certain wine
you do and that makes it fun for you as well. Because you know, that there are things that you want to highlight that people might not automatically pick off the shelf until they taste it. But you can offer both of those experiences. Do you have any guiding principles that are overarching for how you're filling your shelves, because you have limited space? You are not a whole foods, like you said, you were shopping back in 2012. In Atlanta, you don't have that much space. So by guiding principles for what you're what you're picking out.
I think for the most part, sometimes it's seasonal, obviously, we get more whites and Roses and bubbles in the spring in the summer and then when it gets kind of before when like now we're getting a lot of light reds, Gamays, your Beaujolais, your pinots, so because the weather still nice out, it's actually warm. You know, what we're just trying to get ease people into the big bold red winter wines. As far as guiding principles, there are certain like varietals that are not my favorite, but I can still tell if it's good, whether it's my varietals or not. And so the main guiding principle is that I have to think it's good. And for what it is. So I have to think it's good. And then if Raquel seconds it, then there we go. And I don't know if my palate has turned into hers, if it's hers turned into mine, or we've just merged together, and we just like the same things. But that's pretty much usually how it goes real like okay, what do you think? And what do you think? Okay, yeah, we can use this. And we try to think of customers too. I always think of like, who would drink this? Who can I sell this to? And if I can, you know, come up with a person that's going to drink? You know what it is that we're tasting? Then that helps me determine to Okay, would that you know, would someone spend this much on that wine? Normally we taste on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but I had a rep come by today, and he had a Blaufränkisch from Austria, but the price that it would have had to be, you know, retail, you know, would have been a difficult sale. So while I thought that particular Blaufränkisch was good, I had to I had to pass on it. Because I'm thinking, Okay, who would drink this? Who would buy it? Well, a lot of people would drink it because it was good. But who would buy this? And especially since it's just such an obscure type great, I'd be hard pressed for somebody to spend close to $30 for the bottle. So yeah, I had to pass on that one.
I am not surprised that you have your customers in mind the way that you just described because you moved locations based on where your customers were living. And so I know that you like to have them at the forefront and even sharing to me that you have wines that you like, but there are other ones that you might not pick, but you know that your customers will find a place for them. Yeah, keeping them at the forefront. Is this price point appropriate who will buy this? That's a really great mindset to be in when you're filling your shelves.
Exactly. And then customer were request we had I think it was last winter, people were coming in asking for sav blanc all the time. And we were like, where are these people coming from? So we started bringing in more sauv Blanc. I mean, we had it but that was really our thing. You know, in the wintertime, maybe apart from Sancerre. But it people were wanting sauv Blanc, at least my customers were and so that forced us to you know, okay, we can't just do what we think we, you know, sell what we want to sell. We have to sell what the customers want to want us to sell to.
And I was just thinking telling me what people are asking for. I wasn't gonna guess that in the winter. They're asking for Sauv Blanc, but like right now, what are people coming in curious about?
Well we are getting a lot of Chenin I think as far as whites, that's probably the most most popular new requests that we're getting. We're getting a lot of requests for Beaujolais so that's myself and Raquel's one of our favorite. We try to keep something from every Cru as far as Beaujolais, we're a little you You know, crazy with it. But people are asking for it. But again, I don't know if they're asking for it because that's what we sell. Or if that's what they want, and that's what they're they're asking for, but we try to pull our customers, you know, with us, whatever we're into, we try to get our customers into it. And that's probably how most wine shops were. But we try to get our customers into it. And sometimes every now and then they get us into something, you know, they turn us on to something that we haven't tried before
They're coming in saying, why don't you have XYZ on the shelf?
Some other maybe another shop or a restaurant? And I always tell them, Well, I'll definitely check into it. So I almost always if I haven't had it, and I know that it's a good quality wine potentially, then I almost always will try it if it's available in Georgia.
Now I know that your guiding principle is led by quality and therefore when I come into the shop, I know that you have tasted and that you have approved what's on the shelf in terms of quality.
The only one on the shelf that I have not tasted is the William Selyem Pinot,
that seems like an obvious okay.
I understand. It's amazing.
I'm like, I'm gonna go with the fact that you're probably okay on that one.
Yeah, I mean, what do you do? They're like, Yeah, we don't sample this. And, but it's okay. I didn't need to
speaking of your customers, and the space allows for events, it allows for tastings. It allows for exploration, and lounging all of that people come and hang out. So I have actually met several winemakers at your shop, how does it feel to have winemakers coming through Atlanta and stopping at your shop, Steffini, they're coming to see you, how does that feel?
It helps me to better sell their wine, when I get to meet them face to face, I get to hear their stories, everyone likes a good wine story. And I'm able to again, share those stories with my customers, oftentimes, I'm able to share that experience with my customers because I invite the customers in when the winemakers come. So it's a really good feeling just to know that they you know, I'm just happy that they took the time out to come to the little purple corkscrew. But I'm also happy that they came to help me sell their wine to my customers. So it's like a win win win
little in size, but big in so many other ways. I don't want to hear you calling it the little purple corkscrew, only little in size. Well, another event that I really enjoy that you do quite often are these wine and vinyl Fridays, which makes sense the lounge space. But where did this idea come from this wine and music combination?
we just wanted to do something different that at the time no one was doing, I think about you know, growing up watching our parent, my parents, you know, listening to vinyl and with a glass of wine or cocktail in their hand relaxing, just chillin. And I wanted to recreate that. And people like that the customers enjoy that we tell them they can either listen to our vinyl or bring their own. And people bring all kinds of albums in here. And the crowd is always so diverse. You never know what you're going to hear. But everyone ends up enjoying everyone else's music because like why there's a story to it. People always want to say, Oh, I like this album because or I remember back when this was out. And it's the same thing with the wine. The same conversations.
Oh, I didn't know that I could bring my own vinyl. And I had no idea that was part of the role. But that also lets people share wine and music. Those conversations must be super interesting.
Oh yeah. We had a winemaker here a few weeks ago. And the other thing we did was, we asked him to pair his lines with certain songs that we had, you know, out of our vinyl collection. So that was really, really fun. He paired his I want to say the cab. He paired with Marvin Gaye, let's get it on. I don't remember the story, but it was very interesting. Like why he chose that. And then there Oh, and then his sparkling wine paired with a Bruno Mars party song. And that was perfect because it was bubbles.
I would always want to know the why if someone's gonna pull out music and wine for me, I'm going to be asking them why? Because you know the story is going to be good,
right? It's funny because every winemaker that comes to the shop before they leave, that's what we asked when you are drinking your wine. What song do you think that's always interesting because you get more again, you get to know that winemaker a little bit better. And that always helps you sell the wine.
That's like seeing through to someone's soul when they tell you a music and wine pairing. And the story behind it that's going right to someone's heart.
Yeah, exactly, exactly.
Oh so good. Well, you create those kinds of moments for your customers, who we know are at the forefront of so much that you do. And you have also a wonderful team. You mentioned Racquel. You don't do this business anymore alone. And I love when I see you and your team at trade tastings, always I got purple corkscrew crews here like I love it so much. Do people come to you? Or are you recruiting people? How do you find your people?
Well, they found me but I haven't had to look for anybody for a long time. So I can't really remember how we find people. We just hired one of our former guys, the only guy that he was gone for a little while. And now he's back. His name's Robert, you've seen him around before. Say Hi, Robert.
Hey you're like cameo on the podcast. Good to see you.
So I mean Raquel 10 years, Ty nine. And Tiffany has been here since we opened this shop. And then Robert started with us here too. And now he's back. So yeah, I'm not, you know, unfortunate. I haven't had to look for people for a bit while
Have you had any of your distributors that you now work with? Anybody? That was one of your first reps? That is still on board all these years later?
Oh, my gosh, yes. Almost all of them. Really, even if they switch companies, they go somewhere where we don't have a rep, you know that we're not using them? We've used them. I have one rep. That was my rep for Empire, Avant Partir, and Winebow. So we try to stick with our reps to we like to have the same reps all the time.
Even if they change portfolios, even if they change companies. It's the people.
Yeah, one of my reps. Well, we've got a couple of but that have been with me since the beginning. And they know our customers, they know our palates. I mean, they're the ones that, you know, raised us. Literally, they raised us, so you got to stick with those people.
And maybe in the way that your palate changed. And you mentioned how what you're looking for is changed. They now know that too. Are they coming to you with wines that they're like, Oh, this is a purple corkscrew wine?
Yeah, there's some reps that I have that will call and say, Hey, I've got this, I'm sure you would want it. I can't get by there today. But can I send you some? And you know, certain reps? I'll just say, okay, you know, you know exactly what we like, you know exactly what we need go on and send it. I mean, and again, that goes back to relationships, I'm able to trust their choice because of the relationship that we've built
over 11 years. You're almost graduated from high school at that point. You're graduating class together, which is so beautiful to hear that in Atlanta, especially because we know that the wine scene has changed immensely since you started. So thinking back thinking back now we're sitting in 2023? How has Atlanta wine the industry side changed since you opened the shop? How would you describe that to someone who wasn't here? Maybe they're new to Atlanta in their role in the wine industry? How has it changed since you first started?
I think when I first started most of the wine shops that I visited, you know, just not welcoming to someone off the street. So I think that it's changed in that there are more wine shops that have this same concept. You know, they want people to come in, sit down and be comfortable. So there's you and I both know, it can rattle off a probably a dozen names. And that's a good thing. Because the more comfortable you make people feel, then the more you know, confident they're going to feel about coming, getting wine, drinking wine, and even asking questions because they will realize, you know, they're not going to be intimidated. So I'm happy to see that there's so many good wine shops, wine shops that have great quality wine, but still in a casual atmosphere.
That's a good point that makes people just excited about the category of wine. Yeah. So how often does it happen to you now that people come in for the very first time? Does that happen? Like every day,
pretty much every day
That's really, really exciting. That means that people are out there wanting to find new experiences. That's a big deal to hear you say that
We can track that too. So we get a significant amount of new customers, at least one a day
for Atlanta wine. It's just It's beautiful for you and what you've created as a space that people can walk into. But it's beautiful to hear that people want to learn more about wine.
Yeah, and that's the thing with every every customer, every bottle of wine that we sell is really it's a hand sale. because we don't sell wines that are mainstream or really recognizable. So when people come in and they're looking for that Pinot, you know, we have to drill it down. Okay, where do you like your Pinots from? Where do you want it from? What's your budget for this particular bottle? And then we can just hone in right on that perfect model for them. And I think people like that to at least they tell us that they do.
It's a consult. It's a conversation, it's dialogue. It's having intriguing conversations about wine. geek, I love to hear that that's happening in your space. I would think, you know, maybe if you're not, so when it's still interesting to have conversations about places, people flavors, all of that.
Yes. And people want they like that information. So but we have to read people too. Because you know, sometimes people are like, I don't know, all that. I just need this bottle.
You can do that, too. That's the best part.
Yeah, I can pivot with them. I can pivot with them easily.
So thinking about the growing community of wine, not only from the industry, but you mentioned a new customer every day. So where is Atlanta heading, when it comes to wine industry, wine community, the wine scene do like the direction that we're going?
Yeah, I mean, we're growing. It's just, it's growing by leaps and bounds. And it's exciting, because I mean, the more people try wine, obviously, the better it is for me, but people have more options now, too. So if they go to, you know, a nice wine shop on one side of town, then when they're on this side of town, they'll come here, I mean, everyone knows they have options, we actually even send people to other shops, when we know that we don't have it, but this other shop could accommodate our customer better. And that just makes sense to me, you know, I don't want to sell you something that you don't want. I wish you were purchasing a bottle for me, but I might as well send you to where I know you can get it and other shops do the same thing. So I think that the small independent wine shop circle has grown in Atlanta. And I think we would all well, I shouldn't speak for everyone, but I feel like you know, we're all in this this relationship, you know, we would help each other. And we do I mean, people call and ask me questions, I call people and ask questions. I just call it a one line shop owner. And I was like, Hey, I'm trying to get some new switch companies for my business insurance. And, you know, she just she got me all hooked up with her guy. So that's it's changed a lot because it's just growing. And it's better for everybody.
I love when I hear this because that's the impression I have. And I can only speak from an observer from the outside of the wine retail space. I shop at so many places. And I love when I see the wine shop owners hanging out enjoying a bottle together. I see that happen here.
Oh, yeah, yeah, that's a good, you know, it's a good feeling, kindred spirits,
making the Atlanta wine scene exciting for all the customers and bringing in excitement about wine and you all are creating that for us. It's amazing.
And we have a lot of customers too, that are, you know, they'll they tell us, you know, they come here, and then they're like, Okay, next week, we're gonna go to this wine shop. And then, you know, they're sharing, they're spreading the love, you know, and I accept that too.
Well, I have to ask you about this, because I do notice that the purple theme goes throughout not only in the key part of the name, but purple in the shop. There's a lot of accents of purple and all of that. So why purple? Can I ask that?
Well, when I knew I wanted to open up a wine shop, and I was trying to think of a name, one of the things that I learned and just kind of researching how to come up with the name was that people remember colors. So if you have a color in the name, it's easy for people to remember. So I didn't want red. So I just thought purple and purple, it could have really been my favorite color. But I didn't know what other words were going to go in there. And when I went to get my first alcohol license in DeKalb County, there was like one guy that does the alcohol license, and it takes like, forever, it's a mountain of paperwork, it takes forever. Well, it used to at least not It's not so difficult anymore. So I go and turn in a stack of like 50 papers and my fingerprints, my FBI, check everything. And the guy goes, Okay, what's the name of the shop gonna be? And I was like, I don't know, just give me the license and I'll figure out a name. And he was like, it doesn't work like that. And I'm like, what I got I have to have a name and like, I'm like I've been waiting in line all day. And he goes, I'll tell you what, I'm giving you 15 minutes. And to come up with the name he goes and then come back up scan right here and I'll let you you know cut in. So I literally They went downstairs and I was in the parking lot and I thought, oh my gosh, purple, purple, you know, and there's so many wine shops in a, you know, great vibe. Then vino, you know, I didn't want to blend in, but I wanted it to be wine related. And I tried to think of all the mining related things. And it ended up being a purple corkscrew, went back upstairs and the guy was like, is it the purple corkscrew, or just purple corkscrew. And I said, just purple corkscrew, and he goes, Are you serious? And I said, Yes. And he was like, All right, so it was kind of you know, it's stuck. I like it. No one ever forgets that if people forget the name of the shop and they just remember purple. Then then it's good. We get called the purple ladies, the purple crew they don't have to know our name. We just were purple.
Well you got me because I did not know the origin. I'm delighted to hear the origin story of this because I thought for some reason we were fellow Prince fans, because I thought it the purple had something to do with Prince and I grew up in Minnesota by Prince and I didn't know if it was that. I'm still gonna I'm still gonna just part of me hope that maybe secretly deep down you're Prince fan maybe, maybe
Well, no I am a prince fan. And then in then my father and my brothers, like their fraternity colors are purple and gold. So that kind of kind of shaped it because I just grew up with those colors around me all the time that helped to
well, you did something right, because it is now a community name. It's a neighborhood name. It's where people come to not only buy wine, but to hang out as well. So what are you drinking? This is going to come out end of September. What are you enjoying right now going into fall at home cozy fall weather. What do you drink?
Let's see. Well, when I get home, I drink beer. And I don't drink very, very bad beer. So so I don't really drink much wine at home. But I think right now what I'm loving as far as reds, we're just loving Beaujolais days.
You did say you have like all the Crus. So if we do want to come get Beaujolais this fall, we'll just come and see you.
Yeah. So I mean, we're just loving them. They just fit with everything. You can drink it room temperature, you can put a slight chill on it. It's so light it goes with so much. So that's pretty much what I what I'm drinking now as far as reds, not at home. I'm drinking PBR at home. For whites, I'm liking Chablis. The price is perfect. We're really enjoying those Chardonnays.
For this next is upcoming fall season. If I want my Beaujolais or my Chablis. I'm coming to see you and ask what you're up to what you're drinking. So if other people want to find you and connect with you, what's the best way to stay in touch and be up to date on events and all the things?
Well, we're on social media, Instagram and Facebook. But we're located at 32 North Avondale Road in Avondale Estates, Georgia, and you can call me anytime 678-515-8232. And there's parking, and we have plenty of parking. And you can enjoy a flight online and buy a bottle retail to take home. So anything you're looking for, we got it or we can find a close or we can get it.
Well see then you're inviting people to have those conversations with you. And not only telling you what you have, but asking what they want, because I do know that you're trying to fill the shelves for the community that you're serving, and especially if I want some Beaujolais, I'm coming in Steffini, watch out. I'm gonna buy like one of every Cru
Thank you for having me, Kelly.
Yes, thank you for everything that you're doing for Atlanta for all of these years and growing with the city and growing with your customers. It's encouraging to hear that the communication goes both ways for you at the shop. It's you're providing opportunities for people but you're also learning what your customers want and meeting them where they're at. That's so cool.
That's the only way I know how to do it.
Well, I will see you very soon. And please take care and cheers to you. Thank you so much for being on the show. Take care.
See you, thanks, Kelly.
Thanks for tuning in to the cork in the road podcast. Coming to you live from Atlanta, Georgia, and interviewing people who are changing the wine world in the southeast and beyond. can find more about a cork in the road at @acorkintheroad on Instagram. And make sure to check us out on www.acorkintheroad.com. See you soon guys Cheers.