2007-06-14

Cool Vines Coming to Westfield

A few weeks ago I blogged about some speculation of what will be happening in the former Planet Smoothie location. With a little sign posted at the door saying "cool vines" the theories ranged from a wine bar, a liquor store to a flower shop.
Now here is the answer. It is going to be a wine store. But careful. It will not be your typical around the corner liquor store. "Cool Vines" will be something special, something very special I believe.
Yesterday, I had a chance to chat a bit with Mark Censits, owner and brain behind "Cool Vines". One of my key questions was: "How is Cool Vines different from other winestores?" and I got a few answers. It really just focuses on Wine (and not on any other liquor). It seemingly is not trying to cover the full range of wine from cheap-in-large-containers to high-end-a-fortune-per-bottle. It rather will have a carefully selected assortment of wines that are good value but a bit off the main stream. Maybe even something to explore. Price range would be from below $10 to into the $50s or so. In addition to the selection, they will focus on helping the customer find the wine they like and explore similar wines the way a sommelier would do it in a restaurant. So wine knowledge and service is an important element of their business model.

That actually sounds pretty cool. Imagine the following scenario. You could order your food at - say - Mojave Grill and then walk over to Cool Vines describe what you ordered and they would help you select the perfect wine to complement your dinner. Maybe, they could even have the menus of the BYOB places in town available at the store with some recommendations prepared already. I think, that would be a pretty valuable service to Westfield BYOB diners.

Like any real good wine store, they don't just want you to buy wine, they want to educate you about wine. Mark tells me that wine tastings will definitely be part of the program, they will even build out a section of the store for that purpose. That would be a first for Westfield. Besides the educational wine seminars at Classic Thyme, to my knowledge, no wine store in Westfield actually offers wine tastings.

In addition to the store, Cool Vines also is planning to make a similar offering available online, if you will, a virtual sommelier. This may come a bit later, and will allow you to consult their web site for wine recommendations. You can build a profile of your taste preferences by rating wines that you enjoyed already. Then an application based on neural network technology will match your profile against a knowledge base that is modeled after a wine professional and will come back to you with recommendations.

So when is Cool Vines going to open in Westfield? Mark didn't want to give me a concrete date as this depends on a variety of factors and they have an aggressive plan to do the remodeling in the store. However, end of July seems to be their current target.

I look forward to the grand opening, will check out their wine offerings and report back here.

One more thing: An interesting question that came up during my chat with Mark was: "Are Westfielder spoiled by Trader Joe's wine prices?". I'm glad to pass this question on to my readers. Let me know what you think.

Signing Off - The Westfield Blogger

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

To respond to your question. The Westfield Dining crowed is spoiled by Trader Joe Wine. You really need to say this out lout. This is a town where it is very common and fully acceptable that you bring a 2.99 bottle of Wine to a high end place where you are easily willing to spend 150 to 200 dollars on a dinner for a party of four.

Nora

Mark said...

I've always seen Westfield as a town that wants to be more sophisticated, but needs to be shown the way. I'd love to see CoolVines do this for our wine culture.

Mark said...

I've always seen Westfield as a town that wants to be cosmopolitan. I hope CoolVines helps lead the way with our local wine culture

Anonymous said...

from what I saw today-Coolvines is unique and carries wines that are true to the place where they are grown. Wines that are part of a place.

Anonymous said...

I vote for Trader Joes....On my one visit to the store the clerk was not very informed about wines.