Best wine merchants with community involvement in 2021

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For many of us, wine is community. We take our hat off to these boutiques that go above and beyond to support their chosen neighborhoods and families.

Harlem Wine Gallery

New York City

Owners Pascal and Daneen Lewis resided in Harlem for over 30 years when they opened their store in 2016. It focuses on New York State and Black wines, but has other bottlings as well. Frequent tastings and a private back room for events attract community members, and the friendly and educational environment makes them feel at home.

Juice @ 1340

Chicago

Old Wine lover 40 Under 40 Laureate Derrick Westbrook’s ‘slashie’ boutique / tasting room has free events to share rare bottles. The space became a true community hub when it opened up to workers at nearby hospitals during the height of the pandemic and hosted pop-ups for jobless restaurateurs during shutdowns.

Urban Grape / Photo by Philip Keith, OJ Slaughter

Urban grape

Boston

Although this boutique has always been focused on creating a friendly and accessible wine, a development in 2020 has taken it to another level. Co-founders TJ and Hadley Douglas invested $ 10,000 of their own money and actively raised funds to create the Urban Grape Wine Studies Award for students of color. Recipients are fully funded to complete Boston University’s Certificate in Wine Studies program, receive paid internships or internships in the industry, and gain access to mentorship from TJ himself.

Wilder wines

Burlington, Vermont

When a store is crowdfunded to open, like Wilder Wines was, there is an immediate sense of community belonging. Founder Sipha Lam runs pop-ups with local bars and restaurants to build more on this, as well as educating people about her purpose-driven natural wine selections. A three-tier wine club makes exploring more affordable to reach a larger segment of the college town’s population.

Wild child

Somerville, MA

Lauren Friel, former sommelier for two Wine lover The top 100 wine restaurants, Oleana and Dirt Candy, have branched out to create this community wine center. Wild Child is a concept space that opened as a wine and book bar. The ability for bars to sell take-out bottles has also made it a retailer of both. In addition to hosting a book and wine club, Friel has opened up the space so that organizations in need can request to use it for their events or meetings.


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