What inspired you to open a boutique wine shop?
After 9 years in the corporate fashion industry I was ready for a change. I just lost my father to cancer, and he was the one that originally taught me about wine and retail, so in his memory I bought an old bulletproof liquor store in Prospect Heights and studied wine at IWC. A few years later I sold that store, got married to a wine importer and had a son. We wanted to create a flexible life built on love and passion, so I thought, what do I love? The answer came instantly: wine (particularly female-produced ones), people and commitment to service. From then all I had to do was put that idea into motion. It has been a lot of work, but I have never been happier and felt more content. We are humbled and encouraged by how well Corkscrew has been received. There is a truth and honesty to Corkscrew that resonates.
What makes Corkscrew unique?
I think we are the only store in NY (or the world – who knows) that focuses on female-produced wines. We aim to source our wines from small family productions. Many of our producers only make about 200 cases a year. We’re also sure to only buy from farmers that work their land in a sustainable way, harvest by hand and use native yeasts. Besides the almost childlike passion we have for the wines we carry, we are strongly committed to our community and to customer service. Since opening in October 2013 we have won two customer service awards and held several fund raisers for local charities. Our staff is also incredible, I’ve been blessed to work with some of the best people in the industry; our manager, Charles, is a walking encyclopedia.
You place a significant emphasis on the ‘farm-to-table’ method of production, a fact which is demonstrated by your store being made out of recycled and repurposed materials. How does this ethos relate to wine production and the philosophy you’re communicating in Corkscrew?
We have a motto: ‘Honest wine made by real people.’ We never carry mass-marked, industrial products. You should not be paying for corporate sponsorship, rapper endorsements or other b-s. Our wines are an agricultural product, just like organic kale. Each wine reflects a person or family in a particular time and place.
Can you tell us more about your educational talks and wine tastings?
We hold free wine tastings every Saturday from 5-7 pm with different wines every time. We are pretty much always talking about wine, it’s a lifestyle and an obsession. This summer we are planning some Wine & Yoga events in the backyard, as well as a couple of parties. I also give private tastings with different themes.
What are you reading or watching at the moment?
Cooked on Netflix. Amazing and intelligent commentary by Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma. As for reading: a whole lot of shopify stories as we work on our new e-commerce platform and peek-a-boo books for my toddler – he finds them hilarious.
Why do you think it is important to drink good wine ?
It’s just as essential to drink good wine as it is to have friends, to be surrounded by beauty. It makes you happy, and it brings people together, creates bonds, and forms shared experiences. It enriches your life.
Is there one place you particularly favor for sourcing your wines?
I love them all, but I’m partial to Loire and Beaujolais light, fresh, peppery reds, Beira reds, Gruner Veltliner from Kamstal, Fingerlakes Riesling, Red Mountain Syrah and white burgs – I do love a great Chardonnay.
Do you have a personal favorite vintage?
Maybe Douro 2011, but I find ‘vintage’ hype rather boring and outdated. Like my food, I want fresh young wines full of energy, soul and life. I am getting into some skin contact whites and amphora aged whites.
What does the future hold for Corkscrew?
Everything. Worldwide domination. We are expanding to online sales and national shipping, private label wines, more tasting events, and we have a second location in the works. We have just begun working on a catering and events division as well as a consulting side business. I run my business as a large business even though we are still small. I want to see Corkscrew Wines become a franchise. Our business model is unique, and we have so much talent on our team, I really think this is just the beginning. Plus, we’re hiring, call me.
Corkscrew is one of the winners of The Culture Trip’s New York Local Favorite 2016 Award. The Local Favorite badge is awarded to our favorite local towns, restaurants, artists, galleries, and everything in between. We are passionate about showcasing popular local talents on a global scale, so we have cultivated a carefully selected, but growing community.
Interview By Henry Oliver