Weg­mans shop­pers can buy wine

Down­ing­town Weg­man’s be­gan wine sales Oct. 28

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Gary Puleo gpuleo@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mus­tangMan48 on Twit­ter

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.”

GARY PULEO — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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.

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