Wegmans shoppers can buy wine
Downingtown Wegman’s began wine sales Oct. 28
Cheerios and nitrite-free hot dogs find their way into shopping carts every day at Wegmans in King of Prussia.
But add a bottle of wine to the mix and it becomes a downright historic event for customers like Liza Hess, fresh from the store’s new wine room with a bottle of Pinnacle Ridge Chambourcin. To complement the hot dogs? “Maybe,” she said, laughing. “I’m always in here shopping, so this is wonderful that I can get wine here now. It’s so convenient.”
Hess admitted she has sipped her share of vino while dining at Wegmans on-site restaurant The Pub several times since the King of Prussia store opened at 1 Village Dr. four years ago.
But not until Pennsylvania’s new liquor laws recently took hold, allowing supermarkets to sell wine, was she able to buy a bottle to go.
Pennsylvania wine aficionados like Hess raised a toast to Gov. Tom Wolf back in June when he signed into law Pennsylvania House Bill 1690, now known as Act 39, which prompted monumental changes to the state’s liquor code, loosening restrictions on alcohol sales and enabling licensed restaurants to offer wine-to-go sales to their customers.
Not surprisingly, Wegmans shoppers couldn’t be happier that shelves of wine from a stunning variety of vineyards are keeping company with the sweeping array of gourmet and everyday items the chain is famous for, noted Jo Natale, Wegmans vice president of media relations.
“We’re only days into this at this point, but the feedback we’re getting at King of Prussia and everywhere we’ve gone live with this is only positive,” Natale noted. “Customers love the convenience. They mention that over and over again. They do love the availability of local Pennsylvania wine and they like the fact that they’re shopping for wine in the same place that they’re shopping for food, because wine complements the meal.”
Prominently showcased in the wine room that occupies the space formerly devoted to café seating — not to worry, extra seating is now available in the area next to The Pub that was heretofore curtained off — are vintages from a number of Pennsylvania producers, including Blue Ridge, Chaddsford, Broad Mountain and the aforementioned Pinnacle Ridge.
A cabernet from California’s Dark Horse vineyard currently beloved by store manager Kevin Lang is on display just inside the wine room entrance.
Many well-versed customers are fairly sophisticated when it comes to their tannins and bouquets when they come in to buy wine, noted Charlie Dunford, the newly appointed wine and beer team leader.
All others who are open to suggestions may consider Dunford their wine steward of sorts in the coming weeks, as he and other employees become familiarized with Wegmans wines.
On the heels of Mechanicsburg, the King of Prussia store was one of the first Wegmans in the state to roll out wine sales, along with Allentown on Oct. 26. Downing-
town and Montgomeryville followed close behind two days later, with Collegeville (Providence Town Center) and Wilkes-Barre coming on board Nov. 2 , Concordville and Scranton on Nov. 4.
Each store will carry from 400 to 800 different kinds of wine, Natale said.
“It varies by store because we are limited by the space of the store. King of Prussia has 600 different varieties. Montgomeryville has a little more space to work with, so they have the largest selection of any Wegmans store, with 800,” she allowed. “People are very surprised by the selection. I don’t think they expected to have as many choices as we’re able to offer them at Wegmans.”
A trial run at the Mechanicsburg store back in early September set the pace for the program, Natale allowed.
“Mechanicsburg started with 80 wines and that was really a chance for both Wegmans the retailer and the PLCB (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board) to understand the process, what demand was going to be, what the process would be. We learned a lot through that pilot, then went live with the full selection a few weeks ago. Last week we began to roll it out with all of our stores and each week we’re adding four more stores until Nov. 17, when all of our stores will be fully stocked for the holidays.”
Shoppers and foodies alike can look forward to more cooking and wine presentations at all stores in the imminent future, Natale promised,
“We like to bring in local and other wineries to present their wines and talk to customers about wine and food. So it opens up a lot of opportunities and a lot of engagements for us, and a lot of excitement in our stores.”
For those Wegmans wine enthusiasts who could use a little advice, Charlie Dunford is on hand at the King of Prussia store to help with their selection.