Howdy Neighbor! Total Wine and the Coming War
The newest entry in the Total Wine & More portfolio of stores is located in Boca Park in Summerlin, and it is ensconced in what used to be the Linens ‘N Things store. The space that used to house bedsheets now has adult beverages as far as the eye can see. One of about 62 stores in 11 states, it is the first in Nevada, and takes up a sprawling 27,000 square feet. Started in 1991 by brothers David and Robert Trone in Delaware, Total Wine & More states that it is the largest retailer of fine wine in the United States – which may be disputed by Costco. I don’t particularly care.
I spent some time recently speaking briefly with Store Manager, Jerry Felinczak, and Wine Manager, Anett Minderman, and received some interesting insights into the chain and about the philosophy of Total Wine.
The first person I spoke with was Jerry, who was mostly a blur as he continually surveyed the store, looking out for any fires that needed dousing. Jerry, who gives the impression that he’d be equally comfortable in front of a computer in Silicon Valley, was very pleased with the reception that Total Wine has received from the Las Vegas community.
He is aware that there are a few smaller wine stores in the metropolitan area, and as a result, expected a lot of pushback from the residents. Frankly surprised at the warm greeting that the store received, he understand that while there’s no way many won’t stop patronizing their favorite local wine stores, he also gets that people appreciate that it’s nice that a big store is here and has such a friendly presence.
Jerry said that all of the employees undergo rigorous training before they are allowed onto the floor to assist customers. Anyone who doesn’t like wine or can’t learn to like it doesn’t get a job. Jerry indicated that the training, prices, and education opportunities are what make Total Wine & More unique in the world of the big-box wine stores.
Anett has a soft French accent and is clearly passionate about wines. She told me about the classes they hold there, and how Total Wine will create special classes for wine clubs and other organizations. We chatted for a while before I wandered off to speak to a few of the floor employees.
Total Wine & More has the ability to purchase entire case lots from individual wineries which they have labeled “Winery Direct.” That makes them the exclusive distributor of a certain wine or of a certain winery. I’ve tried a couple of the Winery Direct wines, and they were okay. Good value wines, everyday drinkers. Which, of course, doesn’t say much because they have literally hundreds of such wines. So if you’re looking for unique, that’s a tag you’ll be searching for.
Just so that you understand that they are not all about the everyday drinking wine, you need to stop by their wine cooler. There are legendary wines stored there, such as Petrus and Chateau Margaux. There are also wines that are rated by staff – the Staff Picks. And they have a few “scary” wines as well; they have, for instance, their own line of “Double Dog Dare” wines (Chardonnay and a Red) that goes for $1.97. They’ve covered just about every possible level of wine need anyone may have.
They have weekly tastings: 12 noon to 6:00 pm Friday and Saturday and
noon till 4:00 pm on Sunday. They also have tastings of spirits and beer on Saturday afternoons.
They also have an amazing array of spirits, beers, cigars, and non-alcoholic drinks as well. Yes, it boggles.
What’s this about a coming war? As it turns out, Lee’s Discount Liquor, the omnipresent liquor store in Las Vegas for many years, will be opening up its own store in Boca Park. And don’t forget that Whole Foods and its extensive offerings of wine is located right across the street. And to make it even more interesting, travel a couple of miles west on Charleston, and you’ll find Costco, who says that it’s the largest retailer of wines in the U.S. I call that a pre-war situation. Sit back and grab the popcorn! Which goes perfectly with a nice buttery Chard, by the way.
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