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Winestyles Store

Has anyone ever ventured to a Winestyle store? If yes, please describe your experience.

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  1. What on earth is a "Winestyle store"? I've never heard of them.

    1. Winestyles is a "franchise" wine store that has a limited selection of maybe 125-150 different wines grouped together by taste or "style"...........decent concept, but it still
      comes down to who is running it and the few I have been in have had people who really
      know very little about wine and just seemed to "refer' to their manual when trying to
      answer a 'basic" wine question...........Individual retail shops arre really a reflection on
      the person who is behind the counter..........

      2 Replies
      1. re: jonathon

        It's actually not a decent concept, it's stupid. I've only been in one, but as Jonathon said, the owners had no clue about wine. The product is "pushed"out of the Florida (!) headquarters, and you will recognise few of the labels.

        The local franchise can't offer a case discount because their franchise fee is so high. Is a picture emerging here? Sorry for the rant, but this franchise concept (IMO) is going to get a number of younger wine drinkers started on the wrong foot.

        And, the groupings are both inaccurate and make no sense. End of rant.

        1. re: jonathon

          I think that style-based wine stores are great for consumers that know very little about wine, and need an accessible way to feel comfortable shopping for it. But once they get even a little educated, a more traditional wine store is superior. I am by no means an expert, but I get twitchy when I go into a wine store organized by style or, even worse, food-type for pairing.

        2. I've been to the one in San Francisco on Union Street and didn't find much of interest other than the free tasting in progress. The wines are grouped by progressive style, but as Steve K points out, several seemed to be miscategorized to me. The "wine expert" that was helping the owner host the tasting said so many things that were wrong about the wines on offer, I had to leave the premises it bothered me so much.

          3 Replies
            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I've had the same experience at the Union Street Winestyles. This franchise certainly will fail in urban locations or locations with a knowledgable wine consuming public (imagine one in St. Helena!)...that being said, put one in Norman, OK and it will probably do fine...

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Melanie's comment sums it up. The local owners are nice folks, and it would be good if they could succeed, but one has to bite his tongue in order to venture into the place.

                The groupings, the training, the knowledge behind the counter (there is one employee who knows something, but she's only one person), are just so off. The franchise HQ should truly be ashamed, but are likely making $ hand over fist.

              2. We have something similar - though independent, I don't remember the name - here in NYC and while it's arguably not a bad idea in concept if you were re-designing the entire world of oenology, it's so fraught with problems I don't see the point - except for those who are very unfamiliar with wine types at all and don't care to learn, either.

                The little bit of schmoozing I did just to see what they were like suggested the staff were not clueless, but not very sophisticated at all (they were all pretty young, which would make that difficult) and more geared to "enthusiastic beginners" than people even only broadly familiar with the "system" as it actually exists.

                If you want a "big, bold" wine to go with your hamburger and can't get any futher than that on your own and don't like to have to ask staff for assistance, this - and I assume others like it - might be the place for you. But then, in at least 8/10 regular stores, you'll get at least a serviceable recommendation too, and you might actually learn something in the bargain.

                There's a place for stores like these, but I sometimes worry that it might turn into a broader trend, and that would be awful.

                1. I find this whole concept very disturbing. I am first of all, a strong beliver in shop local & support your neighbor. Secondly, when I go to my local wine/cheese shop - they know what they're talking about without referring to a manual.

                  1. We have a new Winestyles in Naples, FL right near where I live...am sorry to find out that it is a chain....Naples is going totally to chain this and chain that and it's disgusting...THAT SAID, I did venture in before Christmas and they suggested Zinman (zinfandel) for our Christmas dinner and we loved it. Tastings though are not free...$15 per person or $10 per couple. From now on, I'll go back to the little independently owned wine shop not so close to me.

                    1. "There's a place for stores like these, but I sometimes worry that it might turn into a broader trend, and that would be awful."

                      Forgot how different alcohol retailing can be in different states. In NY or stores with more limited wine retailing, I think there's a place for stores like this. In CA, where you can already buy wine literally everywhere from the winery to the corner drugstore and I would think the "intimidation factor" should be pretty minimal as it is, I'm not so sure I'd feel the same way.

                      1. Val, I wanted to re-state that WineStyles is a Franchise which mean that each store is independently owned and operated, It is not as chain which would be such as Starbucks owned by one person so please reconsider supporting your independently owned WineStyles Store. My husband and I are from Gig Harbor WA and have had the opportunity to venture into WineStyles in Tacoma WA and we absolutely love it, the people are knowledgeable and friendly, The atmosphere is wonderful and the wine selection is great, I have found a lot of wines that you cannot buy anywhere else unless you hit the winery directly or in fine dining restaurants in which case the wine is much more pricey. I understand that each store is probably different and each owner brings something different to there business but in my experience I have visited approximately 7 - 8 stores and found most of them to be more than desirable. I also appreciate the WineStyles because I have taken friends there that are novice wine drinker and they were not intimidated by the overwhelming wine selections that many other wine shops have. As far as displaying wine by style I like it, yes some of the wines could go either way but just use your best judgment and I can imagine that you would come out unhappy. In Washington WineStyles can serve wine by the glass and we love to stop by and purchase a nice bottle of wine sit down in there comfy seating as the owner uncorks our bottle and brings us a couple of glasses so we can enjoy our bottle of wine.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: dgreene

                          A chain is a chain, whether it's franchised or not. Your local McDonalds, Outback Steakhouse, 7-Eleven, and Subway are all "independently owned and operated," too.

                          If the owner of your local franchise is knowledgeable, helpful, and interested in the product, then more power to him. On the other hand, my experience with such individuals is that they tend to avoid the whole franchise scene. If you're interested in serving great burgers, you open a burger stand, not a Burger King. If you're interested in selling good wine, you open a wine shop, not a WineStyles.

                          Admittedly my experience is limited: I have visited a grand total of one WineStyles store. But I was completely nonplussed by the product, the staff, and the entire experience. IMHO the remedy to an intimidating selection of wine is to make sure the customers are served by friendly, helpful, and accessible staff, not to dumb down the buying process and limit the selection.

                        2. Winestyles is to wine as the Olive Garden is to Italian....

                          2 Replies
                            1. re: Leper

                              The original/official WineStyles format was to limit individual franchise owners to a master list of wines, picked at the corporate level, so that the best prices could be negotiated based on volume. As I understand it, from local sources, some of the store owners realized pretty quickly that they needed to have more autonomy and that providing the best wine to their local clientele was more important to success than a few points of profit. That was actually a rather gutsy position in a business model where a royalty is coming off the top line to the franchisor. So....... some WineStyles stores do push the envelope on what they carry. I know that some owners have gone through extensive sommmelier-type education and really do understand what they have to do to be viable competitively in major markets. What goes on elsewhere I can't speak to. My take on the concept (back when) was that there was a definite inconsistency between a cookie-cutter franchise model and a viable local wine shop.