Archive for the Inari Wines Category

A Grape Place to Be

Posted in Downtown Bristol, Gourmet, Inari Wines, Sophistication on September 24, 2010 by Divide By Zero

This week, I ventured into a little spot near State Street called Inari Wines.  If you haven’t been here yet, I recommend you get there soon.  It’s right across the street from the Bristol Public Library.  It’s sort of easy to miss if you’re not looking for it.  But once you see it, you can’t un-see it.  My girlfriend and I have had a chance to take part in one of their wine tastings, and we both had a very pleasant experience.  We learned some things about wine that we didn’t know before, and enjoyed the company of everyone in the store.

That wine tasting was the first time I remember having some free time to look around their store, and it really is a different place you can find some interesting things.  Like Whimsical Gems & Treasures, there are a lot of nifty little gifts that you wouldn’t find in mainstream stores.  The items Mr. and Mrs. Brandt (the owners) have at Inari Wines make perfect gifts for people who are hard to buy for, or already have everything.  If you take the time to browse a little bit, I’m sure you could find a perfect gift for everyone you know.

I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Mrs. Aulikki Brandt for a few minutes, when she had some time.  She was very welcoming to me, and seemed to enjoy the questions I had to ask.  She gave very informative answers and was very friendly.. as has been my experience with her store overall.  I have taken the time to transcribe my mini-interview for you all.

Del Dotson: Okay, so you’re the owner?

Aulikki Brandt: I’m one of the owners.  Me and my husband.

DD: And what’s your name?

AB: My name is Aulikki.  Aulikki Brandt, here’s my card.

DD: That’s a pretty name.  Okay, my first question is What made you choose to open a business, like, in downtown Bristol, right near State Street?

AB: When.. We used to live in Houston, and our dream was to leave Houston and come to a small town and open our own business.  And we didn’t really know what it was going to be.  We thought maybe a computer business, or a coffee shop.  Then when it finally came the time where we were in Bristol, and we kind of evaluated what we did not have here, this is what we came up with.

DD: Yeah, okay.

AB: We wanted to do gourmet food, wine, cheese, beer, gifts.  Things like that.

DD: Yeah, because you have a lovely store.  And I’ve noticed there’s not too many places like this.. you know..

AB: mm-mm (as she shook her head ‘no’)

DD: In or around Bristol.  Or the Tri-Cities, really.

AB: Right

DD: Um, is this the first business you’ve opened up?

AB: Yes.

DD: So you’re a first-time business owner, that’s cool. And um, I think you’ve already answered this, but what do you think Inari Wines brings to downtown Bristol that wasn’t already here?

AB: I would think that we have a really unique.. niche that is very different than anything else, anybody has downtown.  So I think that for the whole area, I think that we have definitely changed a lot about of the appreciation of good wine.

DD: Definitely, yeah.  I’ve come to your wine tastings a few times on Saturdays and I really enjoyed that.  Um, my next question is this.  How do you think Inari Wines fits in with the whole personality of downtown Bristol?

AB: I think it really fits into the specialty shops.  And I think that, I think we have lots of great antique shops but it’s really neat to see, now that we’re getting more specialty shops.  There’s a shoe shop, there’s ladies purses and all that kind of stuff.  There’s art shops, so I think it really fits into that kind of a..

DD: That kind of atmosphere.

AB: Yes!

DD: It kind of “goes with the flow”?

AB: Mm-hmmm.

DD: Is there anything we can look forward to?  Any, um.  Besides the wine tastings.  We always look forward to the wine tastings!

AB: Well, we are hoping to expand our store to have a whole special wine tasting area.  It seems to be getting so busy right now but we are planning to remove one of the walls up here and build a special tasting area.  That’s something we are slowly starting to work on.

DD: Very nice.  And the last question is, is there anything else you’d like to tell me, or share that I haven’t already asked about?

AB: We’re still kind of the best kept secret down here, that people just.. Still, people walk in every day.  They say: “Oh I never knew that you were here!”  And I say “Well, we’ve been in business 7 and a half years, so..”

DD: And you guys used to (looks out the window and points across the street)…

AB: We started across the street and we were there for 2 years.  We ran out of space so we moved to State Street across from Paramount for 2 years.  Now there’s a fabric shop in that space.  And then we moved here, and what really works for us in this location is that we have the whole front for parking, the back for parking.  Parking for us is a big issue, especially when you start to move the cases of wine.

DD: Oh yeah, I’ll bet.  Hahaha.

AB: We really lucked out to get this spot.

DD: Alright, well thank you very much for your time.

AB: Thank you!

That concluded my interview with Mrs. Brandt.  I wish we both had more time for her to answer more questions.  I also wish I hadn’t just spent my money in the antique shops.  There was a big can of Wasabi Peas with my name on it in there!

Seriously though, I recommend this establishment to everyone.  There’s really no way I can write down the passion and information the staff (especially the owners) of Inari Wines freely gives out to its customers.  You can visit their website here.  It has a more extensive list of the inventory they have to offer, and a detailed schedule of events they have planned.  Whether you’re a wine connoisseur, just have a general interest in wine, or are (like myself) a complete novice of everything wine and just want to learn a little bit about it.. this is the place to go.

I also highly recommend attending one of their wine tastings, I am certain that they will offer a wine that you will have to take home with you.  They really know their stuff.

Thank you Mrs. Brandt for the opportunity to talk with you.  And thank you both for being a big part of the downtown Bristol community, all the best in the future!

Inari Wines Gourmet Market

39 Piedmont Avenue, Bristol VA, 24201

(276) 821-WINE (9643)

http://inariwines.com