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Screwtop Wine Bar at 1025 N. Fillmore Street (via Screwtop/Instagram)

Screwtop Wine Bar in Clarendon is under new ownership.

The wine bar, owned and operated by Wendy Buckley since 2009, was recently purchased by Linda Urbanski and Ryan Gesinski. The sale was finalized Jan. 2.

Located at 1025 N. Fillmore Street, Screwtop offers a full wine bar, brunch, lunch, dinner and a retail wine shop with hundreds of wines. It also carries a variety of artisan cheeses, meats and gourmet goodies.

Buckley, the original owner and operator, opened the wine bar after noticing few Clarendon spots geared toward wine lovers and women.

“I wanted to create a casual place where you could enjoy a really great glass of wine without having to go to a fancy restaurant downtown, and thus the idea for Screwtop was born,” Buckley said in a newsletter to customers. “With Screwtop, I wanted to take the intimidation out of wine and turn the enjoyment of wine into a lighthearted and approachable experience.”

That approach is in the bar’s name, which plays with the stereotype that finer wines only come corked while lower-tier options have screw caps.

“My goal was to create a place where no matter your knowledge of wine you felt at home here,” Buckley said. “And that our team treated everyone that came through our doors like a regular. A regular ‘Cheers’ of the wine bar scene.”

Urbanski, one of the new co-owners, said she doesn’t plan on making significant changes, only to “make enhancements of what is already currently in place.”

“I love that Screwtop strives to be an affordable wine bar, has an absolutely delicious menu, and hosts numerous wine tasting events,” Urbanski said in a separate emailed newsletter. “I am truly thrilled to have the opportunity to have Screwtop continue on as a go-to wine bar for the Arlington community.”

Urbanski grew up in Vienna and has lived in Clarendon with her husband for over a decade, per the email. She has a background in managing large business operations.

“We will continue to be committed to delivering an exceptional experience to every visitor, by providing unique wines and continuing the tradition of creating a warm and inviting atmosphere,” Urbanski said. “I’ve already had the pleasure of meeting so many lovely customers over the past couple of months, but I am genuinely looking forward to meeting even more of the wonderful people that Wendy has been telling me about that contribute to the vibrant Screwtop community.”

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A new wine shop is getting ready to be uncorked in Clarendon this fall.

The aptly named “Clarendon Wine Club” is moving into 1114 N. Irving Street just off the main Wilson Blvd drag. It’s just a couple of doors down from O’Sullivan’s Irish Pub and around the corner from the recently revamped Clarendon Ballroom.

The owners of the shop are subleasing the space from Coco LaRue Beauty Studio, which is moving next door. The beauty studio temporarily closed earlier this year and is planning to reopen in its new space at 1112 N. Irving Street in January or February 2023, owner Coco La Rue told ARLnow.

Not much is known about Clarendon Wine Club at this point. The owners, a self-described “Lyon Village couple,” only shared that the shop “will focus on high end wines in an intimate space” and that they hope to open this fall.

Le Rue also told ARLnow that the shop will sell her champagne, the passion fruit-flavored “Butterflies Champagne.”

Clarendon does have at least two other businesses that can reasonably be classified as wine shops. Screwtop Wine Bar on N. Fillmore Street also has a retail wine shop. Oby Lee Winery on Washington Blvd sells a selection of bottles to take home as well. There used to be another wine shop right by the Whole Foods on Wilson Blvd, but “quirky” Grateful Red closed in 2016.

This western portion of Clarendon is in throes of change, including development projects both underway and planned.

The Silver Diner across the street is set to close in October after 26 years at that location as a new one in Ballston opens. A new development is coming to that corner featuring a hotel, rooftop bar, gym, residential building, and 16,000 square feet of retail space. It will still probably be a few years before it’s constructed and opened, though.

That development will likely lead to the Clarendon beer garden The Lot being closed, but the owners in June couldn’t elaborate on its future beyond noting it will be open for the rest of the 2022 season.

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Grateful Red, a new boutique wine and gift store from the owners of Screwtop Wine Bar (1025 N. Fillmore Street), is now open in Clarendon.

Located at 2727 Wilson Blvd, in the old Shoefly space, Grateful Red will carry (the store is still building its inventory) 500-600 bottles of wine, primarily from lesser-known independent producers, including local Virginia wineries. The store also offers beer, gourmet snacks and cheeses, and gifts.

While Screwtop will continue to operate its small retail wine shop, owner Wendy Buckley says she opened Grateful Red in order to offer more variety to customers. Many of the wines at the store can’t be found elsewhere in the immediate area, she said.

“When someone comes here, they won’t see a lot of wines they see in grocery stores,” she said.

Buckley said she’s happy to have hired some of the former staffers from Best Cellars, the Clarendon wine store that closed last year. She said the closing of Best Cellars in Clarendon wasn’t due to a lack of business. Instead, Buckley suggested, the store was doing well, but closed due to financial problems with the parent company.

Store General Manager Amanda Weaver-Page, who formerly managed the Best Cellars location in Dupont Circle, will be offering wine classes at the store, including “wine 101” and classes that focus on specific wine-growing regions.

Buckley noted that the store is pet friendly, takes pride in its sense of humor. Gifts on sale include funny t-shirts, bedazzled flasks, and an ice cube tray that makes ice in the shape of the Titanic. Although the staff is knowledgeable about wine, Buckley says they “don’t take themselves too seriously.”

Future plans for the store include adding the capability to fill beer growlers, and launching a wine basket delivery service for the D.C. metro area.

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(Updated at 11:25 a.m.) A new tenant has emerged to take the place of Shoefly (2727 Wilson Blvd) in Clarendon. Soon, a wine shop will be moving into the space.

Screwtop Wine Bar (1025 N. Fillmore St) informed its customers over the weekend that it will open a retail wine bar in the old Shoefly spot. A Facebook page has been set up for the store, which will be called Grateful Red. Its website just became active today.

The store is expected to open sometime this summer. Screwtop Wine Bar owner Wendy Buckley said she hopes Grateful Red will be able to open its doors by July 4.

Buckley and her staff will aim to provide a mix of wines, ranging from “fancy” to less than $10 per bottle. Buckley said she’s grateful to be able to run a business in an area she loves.

Shoefly had been in business for 10 years, but the owners reportedly decided not to renew the lease.

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The sign police finally caught up with the notorious small business scofflaws of North Fillmore Street yesterday afternoon.

According to Screwtop Wine Bar owner Wendy Buckley, a county zoning employee “randomly” stopped by just before 4:00 p.m. and took her sandwichboard sign.

“This sign cost me over $175!” Buckley wrote in an email shortly after the incident. “I just got a call… telling me he threw it in a dumpster.”

Also gone: the sign for Bakeshop, the cupcake-and-coffee place down the block from Screwtop. See below for the county’s explanation of why the signs were removed.

“I’m a pretty positive and easy going person,” Buckley said. “But with today’s actions I am beginning to wonder what won’t this county do to hurt small businesses?”

Buckley quickly added that the county board has been “great” and are “the only people who ‘get it'” when it comes to the needs of small businesses.

In fact, during July’s three-hour board discussion of sidewalk seating on Fillmore Street, board member Chris Zimmerman emphatically encouraged his county colleagues to be more permissive with signs, especially sandwich board signs. Zimmerman and other board members spoke specifically about using signs to attract more foot traffic to the sleepy portion of North Fillmore Street where Screwtop and Bakeshop reside.

“Each of us on North Fillmore Street has a sandwich board sign to try and attract eyeballs down from Clarendon Boulevard,” Buckley said. “I am always happy to comply with any law, but our little businesses are doing everything we can to survive on this street. I don’t see how our signs, which are out of the way, can hurt anyone.”

Update at 2:15 p.m. — The head of the Arlington County Zoning Office has responded to our story.

Zoning Administrator Melinda Artman says sandwich board signs are prohibited throughout Arlington County. Despite supportive words for the signs at the July board meeting, Artman says board members must take legislative action in order to permit the signs to be placed on county property.

Screwtop was given three warnings about its sign, Artman says. The first was issued on June 10. The last was issued within the past couple weeks, and included a warning citation that the sign was “subject to immediate removal,” according to Artman.

It is a criminal misdemeanor offense to place a sign on public property in Arlington County. Violations are subject to fines up to $2,500. Screwtop has not been fined.

Artman says the county confiscates hundreds of signs per week, but tries to warn business owners first before removing them. 

“Of course we support small business here in Arlington… but the feedback we receive from the community is that sign enforcement is very important to them,” she said.

When a sign is confiscated it’s thrown out, since the zoning office has no storage capacity.

Artman says many businesses, especially in the Ballston area, openly flout the county’s sign regulations. Sign enforcement has become a cat and mouse game; recently inspectors started conducting sign enforcement randomly rather than at set times, because businesses had gotten wise to the inspection schedules. The county now deploys six inspectors on sign enforcement details for three hours each week.

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Clarendon’s Screwtop Wine Bar received a flattering write-up in today’s Washington Post.

One local’s conclusion about the two-month-old wine bar and cheese shop? Screwtop is “just what the neighborhood needed.”

Along with the recent additions of American Flatbread and Bakeshop, also on N. Fillmore St., it’s getting harder to argue that the neighborhood is missing much of anything food, drink and trend-wise.

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