Know Your Local Wine Shop ~ Arkansas Edition

The Arkansas state flag was designed by Willie Kavanaugh Hocker.

The Arkansas state flag was designed by Willie Kavanaugh Hocker.

I love to visit wineries when I am traveling. But sometimes, you can’t get away when you are away. How do I solve the problem? Check out the local wine shop or liquor store.

But, first a word about Arkansas liquor laws.

Confusing is too simple a word. As is arcane.

First off, you can’t buy wine over the internet and have it shipped to you in Arkansas. Well, technically you probably could but because Arkansas won’t ship its liquor to you the other states won’t allow the reverse. You can go into a winery or store buy your liquor and have it shipped to your residence only. You have to have a special label from the ABC (alcoholic beverage control) agency or the special label from Fed Ex or UPS. But the winery has to pay all the taxes to Arkansas and pay for a permit. So naturally most places won’t do it. oh. And you can only have a single case.

Whew. Complicated. But it gets worse. Like if you live there worse.

Some counties are wet. Some are dry. Some are wet and have dry towns. Some are dry and have wet towns. In wet places you can get beer and wine in a grocery store. And in most wet places you can’t buy on Sunday. Because God.

You will find team spirit everywhere! Photo by Gretchen Neuman for VinoVerve

You will find team spirit everywhere! Photo by Gretchen Neuman for VinoVerve

The best way to figure out what is going on in your area is to drive around on Sunday and find out which stores have full parking lots. That’s how my dad figured it out. Luckily as a retiree, he could pick where they could move. Which is why they don’t live in Conway, Arkansas. They originally were really set on the place. And then they went to dinner at nice steak house and found out that their beverage options were Coca-Cola and sweet tea. Ugh.

So they opted for a place in Benton County.

And while they found a place that is open on Sundays (after 11am of course so the baby Jesus doesn’t weep) that wasn’t the place that they took us to during our inaugural trip to Arkansas. We went to Guess Who?.  An odd name, I agree, but a great shop, super friendly and busy too.

Organized into four sections, the store has a separated entrance for those buying liquor by the case.  And I mean a case of Tito’s Vodka.  I think this spot is mostly for the restaurants or clubs, but the lady running it was super friendly.  The other entrance is for the regular customers.  Broken down into beer, wine and liquor sections.  The beer section includes a cooler with a large section of craft brews.  Much to Kevin’s excitement it also sells Boulevard Brewing Company beers.  Technically not a craft brew anymore after being sold to the folks at Duval, it hasn’t become as accessible as Sam Adams or Budweiser, but we can’t get it at home.  As as extra special plus for Kevin, this store carries the special brews usually only available in the tasting room.  The liquor section is probably the smallest part of the store. Found in front of the registers found by type on short black metal shelves.. Liquors are organized by type.  Pretty standard stuff.

Duck Dynasty wine.  Fake as the Show... which is probably also a product of California...Photo by Gretchen Neuman for VinoVerve.

Duck Dynasty wine. Fake as the Show… which is probably also a product of California…Photo by Gretchen Neuman for VinoVerve.

The last part of the store is the wine section.  This is probably the largest section and is bright and airy with wines organized in wooden cases by location or varietal.  There is a good mixture of options with popular and bulk wines being found in the front.  Guess Who?  Offers a variety of classes for customers, private wine lockers and wine tasting opportunities.  Oh, and a section for local wines of which I took advantage (and will be discussed later).  The one downside?  Finding this obnoxious Duck Dynasty wine. The wines are being produced in California and have no other connection with the family other than the labeling.  The press release from Trinchero Family Wines says that the family “Share(s) the same values,” with the Robertsons. Not all of them I hope.  But as my mother has always said, “If it looks like a duck, talks like a duck and acts like a duck…. Well, it’s a duck.”

Over all, I was impressed with impressed with Guess Who and expect that I will be shopping there  occasionally while visiting the folks.  If you are in the Bentonville area and need some wine, I suggest you visit them too.



Guess Who?
214 SE Walton Blvd.
Bentonville AR, 72712

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

How To Drink Local Wine

My favorite way to discover local wine is through travel. As I drive to conferences or visiting relative, I like to stop by the local winery and taste what they are producing.  I love talking to the wine makers and learning about their story.  Their passion for wine is always infectious.  Currently, I have a problem. Getting away has increasingly become difficult due to family responsibilities (i.e., reining in teens)

My solution? Well the first option is to comb my local wine shops (which may in fact be local grocery stores). Grocery stores? Well, being a foodie type, it makes for easier menu planning.  I have found myself doing this on the road as well.  In part, because I eat better on the road when I am picking fruit and veg instead of eating fast food, but also because in many states, grocery stores have wine (Yes, I know you don’t New York State – get over yourselves on that matter).

I have picked up great wines in Virginia, Indiana Illinois and Nebraska at grocers or their closely associated liquor stores.

Some standouts? Bloom, a small chain that I found while visiting my 104 year old grandmother and other relatives in Virginia Beach. They have a nice wine section that has got one of the nicest selections of local wines that I have ever seen.

My nationwide? Whole Foods is a great choice. With its dedication to fresh and local ingredients, it makes sense that they would feature local wine. Given their national reach? Local wines extend to regional options extending my non-travelling reach. Lately, I have found Firelands Gewurztraminer from Isle St. George, near Sandusky, OH and from Illinois, Prairie State Winery, Lynfred and Glunz Family all in my local WF.

Surprisingly, in Chicago, I have found that smaller, ethnic groceries are full of local options as well. Maybe this is because they are being supplied by alternative distributors. I am not going to argue the point so long as I can find new and original options. In my neighborhood, I am recommending Foremost liquors which vary from neighborhood to neighborhood as to their options.

I have also found increasing local options at my neighborhood Jewel where the wines of Indiana’s Oliver Winery  and Michigan’s Tabor Hill have found themselves on the shelves.

These are very pleasant surprise for a local wine lover.

My new way to get local wine? If I can’t get to the wine? I am having it brought to me.

While not all smaller wineries can and do ship, we should take advantage of those that do. How to chose?  I am using results for wine competitions.  An imperfect system to be sure, but one that is making it easier for a lover of local wine to extend their selections.

What are your favorite regional American wines?  Let us know and maybe I will be checking them out soon!


Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor
October 10, 2011

Me & Fiona Apple Want Some Wine

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

I’ve been a bad, bad girl.

I’ve been careless with a wine blog

~ Gretchen with much assistance from Fiona Apple

Yes,  I played blog hookie today.  Ok, technically not since I am catching up tonight… still.  You get the point.

I went kayaking today, having just taken possession of my new kayak late last week.

Today I used it and got something that doubted was possible.

An October sunburn.

October Sunburn

I am celebrating with Michigan bubbly from L. Mawby which I picked up a bit a go at a little shop called Provenance.  (hoping that Fizz doesn’t mind if I come up and visit sometime!)

Williamsburg Wine

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Tobin Logo via

Tobin Logo via

I have always wanted to go to Colonial Williamsburg. It calls a nerd like me. During the Bicentennial, we Miller’s got into the Tobin Packing Company car (Dad was a salesman for the company) that looked like a skunk (it was black and white with a Tobin’s decal on the doors) and drove down south… We didn’t stop at Williamsburg because there was an argument about whether we should stop at Kings Dominion. Plus we had already stopped at Mount Vernon.

When I am visiting Nanny and the cousins in Virginia Beach, I don’t get a chance to stop either. They keep me busy catching up. What I really need is to bring the girls with me so that I can use them as an excuse to go. Not that they are interested in Interpretive History. They might have had their fill of that in Salem.

What I was able to do while in Virginia was to make a stop at the grocery store. And there I found a decent selection of local wine (NOT an option at my local Jewel). So I picked up a couple of bottles.

WilliamsburgYesterday, we opened this one. Williamsburg Winery was created in 1985 by the Duffeler family and produced its first wine in 1988. The first wine produced was the Governor’s White. It is a medium-bodied semi-dry wine with grapefruit and Golden Delicious apple flavors (or maybe apple pear, I am undecided). The wine doesn’t list what varietals were blended to create it. But the winery grows Cayuga, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Traminette and Vidal Blanc in their vineyard. Judging from the flavors I would guess that Vidal Blanc was one of the primary grapes used for this wine.

Other wines produced by Williamsburg Winery include:

  • James River White
  • Plantation Blush
  • Susan Constant Red
  • Two Shilling Red
  • John Adlum Chardonnay
  • Andrewes Merlot
  • Arundell Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Acte 12 Chardonnay
  • Burgesses’ Measure Merlot
  • Henings Statute Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Seyval Blanc
  • Viognier
  • Merlot Reserve
  • Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve
  • Gabriel Archer Reserve
  • Virginina Trianon (a Cabernet Franc)
  • Vintage Reserve Chardonnay
  • Late Harvest Vidal
  • Blackberry Merlot
  • Raspberry Merlot
  • Spiced Wine

The wines range in price from $7.50 to $65.00 with the majority of selections in the $9.00 to $16.00 range. WIlliamsburg Winery can be ship to California, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Washington, DC, Texas, Virginia, Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Wisconsin, Illinois and Ohio.

Williamsburg Winery is NOT in the confines of Colonial Williamsburg but rather a couple of miles outside of the town. Along with the winery, the property is home to a hotel, Wedmore Place and the Gabriel Archer Tavern. It is located at:

5800 Wessex Hundred
Williamsburg, Virginia 23185

Joys of Small Package Shops

Marguerite Barrett

Contributing Writer
You may remember that just before Thanksgiving, I wandered into a small package shop in Canaan, CT.  While there, I discovered that the proprietor had an interest in South African wines, and I picked up several bottles that I hadn’t tried before.
Recently I opened the last bottle from that shopping excursion, a Steenberg 2007 Sauvignon Blanc.  A light golden color, the bouquet is rich, full and earthy (the review I read on WineLibrary described it as grassy).  The wine itself is buttery, mellow and I detected citrus notes – perhaps grapefruit?
It’s a beautiful, sophisticated – and very affordable – white.

The Joys of Small Package Shops (continued)

Marguerite Barrett

Contributing Writer
As I mentioned in my post of 11/20, I’ve been having a great time exploring the small package shops you find in most CT towns. A few weeks ago, I stopped at The Cordial Shoppe in Canaan, CT and picked up several wines from South Africa.
The one I recently finished is the Sebeka 2007 Cabernet Pinotage. This is a smooth full-bodied wine that is quite affordable – under $10 US. The tasting notes indicate both blackberry and red berry notes, and they combine extremely well. The wine is excellent paired with pasta or meat. Definitely worth checking out.
The label features a cheetah and evokes the spirit of Africa and the Serengeti. One of the most delightful surprises of the wine was to find the cork was printed with a leopard print! I’m enough of a geek that I was absolutely delighted to find they carried the cheetah motif onto the cork!

The Joys of Small Package Shops

Marguerite Barrett
Contributing Writer

This weekend I stopped at a new package store (as the liquor stores are called here in Connecticut). While there is a very large package store quite close to my house, I’ve discovered that there’s great fun to be had in taking the time to scout out the smaller stores in different towns. It’s always an adventure to discover which wines each store carries. They all carry the “standards”: the Lindemans, Woodbridges, Gallos, etc. And every so often you stumble across a deal on a Chateau St. Michelle or a Santa Margharita – something never to be sneezed at.

But Nutmeggers (as CT folks are called) are sophisticated people, and even in the smallest package stores in the smallest towns, you’ll find an interesting selection of wines. Because the stores are smaller, they can be easier to browse – and because they aren’t trying to carry everything, you often stumble across wines you’d overlook in the larger stores.

This past weekend, I stopped at The Cordial Shoppe in Canaan, CT. They have a nice collection of wines, with wines from South Africa being prominently featured in one of the front aisles. I wound up buying several wines that I had either not noticed before, or had been meaning to try, one of which being the 2006 Oracle Shiraz.

This Shiraz lives up to its reputation – it is silky smooth, full-bodied, with a nice balance of fruit (raspberry, I think) and smokiness. The tannins are subtle and it lingers in your mouth. I paired it with chicken last night, which was o.k., but I imagine it will be much better paired with beef or lamb. It’s reasonably priced (under $15 US) and eminently drinkable all year long.