You won’t find Zoom wine tastings at Le Vintage Wine Shop.
The new shop is opening at 1218 King Street on Tuesday, and owner Benjamin Kuna says there’s something about an in-person tasting that gives the experience an extra kick.
“Nothing replaces a hands-on experience,” Kuna told ALXnow. “I did a bunch of Zoom tastings during the pandemic, and you could loop an Oregon winemaker into the call, and he could talk to you from his winery. So, that was great, but it’s not the same.”
Le Vintage features biodynamic wine without chemicals, and Kuna says it’s a misconception to think his wine is more expensive than grocery store alternatives. For instance, he carries a 2013 Scala “Briseo” Rosso that retails for less than $20.
“People can buy environmentally conscious, organic, sustainable wine that has the same price point,” Kuna said. “If you want to spend $100, I have that wine, but I also have a whole rack of 60 wines that are under $20.”
The 1,800-square-foot shop was previously home to the Acme Mid-Century + Modern furniture store, which moved online.
Kuna, a graduate of St. Stephens and St. Agnes School, was embarking on a career as a science writer when he started working as a sommelier at the La Fromagerie Cheese and Wine Bistro (1222 King Street). Kuna worked at the shop until 2014, rising to the rank of general manager, and then left for stints at a number of restaurants in the region, including Evening Star Cafe and Planet Wine in Del Ray.
“I really, really love wine,” Kuna said. “It’s the most interesting topic I’ve ever explored. It contains history and science, geography, cultural history, cultural trends. It dictates food. It actually dictated how we migrated in certain parts of the world. It just there’s so much involved with wine. It really is. This sort of microcosm of the human experience in a lot of ways.”
La Fromagerie’s owner Sebastien Tavel is a family friend, and owns 20% of Le Vintage.
“It opens up a lot of possibilities,” Kuna said. “We’re going to have a wine club at La Fromagerie called “Flight Club’, where a small group of 15-20 people will meet once a month to eat cheese and talk about wine.”
When coming up with the name, Kuna said he wanted to tap into the feeling of personal nostalgia that people get with tasting wine.
“When I’m drinking wine it evokes memories, and it’s why we love it,” he said.
Le Vintage will also host wine tastings on Thursdays from 5 to 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 1 to 4 p.m. The shop is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.
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