Wine Oh Wine Shop by Rusty Sly

To my friends in Florida,

I am saddened by the announcement from Mary yesterday on the decision to close Wine Oh Wine Shop in Cocoa Beach.  The sadness that I felt from this news inspired me to write an article for my West Coast blog in hopes that we all realize that wine shops are in a difficult position with the present economy.  They need our help and support.  I hope that my east coast friends stay together as Mary’s shop was the hub for all that we did as a group.  Below is my article that will go up on the blog this week.  I wish Mary all the best in her new adventure.  If you didn’t notice, I left off my usual cheers as this is not a cheerful moment for me.


This past Saturday, after a fantastic education and tasting on Republic of Georgia Wines by Gregory Alonzo, I received some very sad news in an email.  The email stated that the Wine Oh wine shop will be closing on February 27, 2010.  Mary McNeal opened Wine Oh about 2 years ago in Cocoa Beach, Florida.  Mary had a vision and a passion to open a true wine shop into this area where none existed.  Being a frequent traveler to Cocoa Beach on business, it was like a second home to the wine shops that I frequent here in Santa Clarita, California.  Mary was always cheerful and gave people the feeling of comfort even if they were new to wines.  She, like many fine wine shop owners, listened to her customers to get an understanding of what they liked and disliked in wines.  From this she was able to guide her patrons to wines they would truly enjoy.  It is this personal touch that I would like to write about.

The economy is not great for wine shops as wine is considered a luxury.  I have seen many people dropping out of wine clubs and cutting back on wine expenses.  I agree that if it means food on the table or a bottle of wine, it is not difficult to choose.  I have seen two wine businesses over the past year fall in these difficult and poor economic times.  The first was the Loose Goose Society.  Peter Goossen was a  phenomenal visionary at providing great events and supporting the members of his society, which he called his flock.  His festivals were large and provided a perfect arena for sampling a large number of wineries in one location.  There were so many wineries that you had to pick and choose but even with a dedicated flock the economy was too much in the end.

Mary’s approached her business at Wine Oh by stocking wines that the local ABC Liquor chains did not carry and keep the price within the realm of what Cocoa Beach consumers could comfortably afford.  This was a smart business approach but here again, the poor economy outweighed the profits making it impossible to maintain a small business.

This is what I believe is having a large effect on our small businesses and local economy.  Many people shop and go into small businesses to see, touch and ask questions about items to help them decide what they want.  Once they know exactly what they want they go home and jump onto the internet where they can order it online at a substantial savings.  This approach benefits the internet company but destroys the small business man that put their time, effort and expense into going over all of the details of the item with the consumer.  My problem with this is that you lose that personal touch by purchasing online.  If I buy a bottle of wine from any of our local wine shops and it happens to be corked or bad, bring the bottle back and they will replace it, unless it is empty.  Now for that “personal touch”,  try sending an open bottle back to an internet distributor or business and see what happens.

My request and hope with this article is that we support our local wine shops as much as possible.  Santa Clarita has added many to our community:

·         Valencia Wine Company
·         All Corked Up
·         Lee’s Bistro and Wine Bar
·         Wine 661
·         Vino 100

Let’s support them and stand together here in Santa Clarita.  Not only will you be supporting small business and the local economy bit I can’t imagine the thought of not having these fine establishments where I  can enjoy and taste fine wines.

As for Wine Oh and Loose Goose, they may be gone but they will never be forgotten.  I wish both Mary and Peter the best and hope they stay in the wine industry supporting the thing we all love and cherish,   good wine.

Rusty Sly