This sponsored column is written by Nick Anderson, beermonger at Arrowine (4508 Lee Highway).
A Twitter thread caught my attention recently from Raven Book Store, an independent retailer in Kansas.
The story is familiar to anyone in retail, especially in the age of Amazon and other online outlets. Beer and wine haven’t really had to deal with e-commerce as a threat to smaller brick-and-mortar shops — not yet, anyway. The conversation has centered on “big boxes vs. little guys” instead. Now, though, it appears that big-time online beer and wine retail is just over the horizon.
Washington Business Journal reported earlier this month that Amazon is looking to hire a Manager of Public Policy focusing on alcohol, fueling speculation it’s looking to take another run at becoming as potent a force in the booze business as it has been everywhere else.
Amazon isn’t the only giant sniffing around online retail: ZX Ventures, the growth/investment wing of AB InBev (Budweiser) is already working with larger retailers like Walmart and Kroeger, along with delivery services like Drizly. Bryan Roth offers a good, comprehensive deep-dive here.
Giant corporations see something they want, and they usually get their way. So what does this mean for independents? For the foreseeable future, I wouldn’t expect the price difference to be as dramatic as in books or other items: with sales taxes and delivery fees, online retail prices will hang near an independents’ for now.
Imagine, though, if one of these services really takes off — say, after regulations are rewritten or struck altogether. Amazon might start moving enough of a local favorite at $11, versus $11.99 at an independent, that the distributor gives them a discount to buy per pallet, knocking off $3-4 per case. Then you’re looking at $8.99 online versus $11.99 at an independent that can’t buy by the pallet and can’t match that price.
That’s the realities of the market, you say, and you’d be right. This is the reality we’ve lived with, as big chains and boxes build an interest in “craft” beer. What I keep circling around is an Amazon-type taking it one step further: working with breweries directly.
Ever see your favorite go-to beer pop up at Costco at a price that shocked you? Just wait: if the big guys get their way, this is the game-changer. This is the move that drops the big guys’ cost dramatically enough to see book-like price discrepancies.
Back to books, actually: I support local bookstores as much as I can. I secretly harbor a daydream of opening one, if I’m honest. But if you’ve given me an Amazon gift card over the past few years, I’ve used it to find books on my wish list, used, as cheaply as possible. I do this because it’s fun, it’s convenient, and because I’m a massive hypocrite.
While those purchases usually end up being made through indie bookstores, after Amazon takes its cut who knows how much I’m actually supporting them? Still I do it: pictured are just some of the books I’ve picked up via this method over the past year.
What do my shelves look like when all of our favorites start popping up online for less than I pay wholesale? What will make sense for me to carry? As our success leans more heavily on the experience, and the service we offer, which breweries will rise to occasion to support small retailers?
Will beer go the way of books, shoes, and widgets of all types? If you’re in the business and not thinking about this stuff now, you need to start. Bezos is coming.
WHEN: Every Friday, May through October — 5-9 p.m.
WHERE: The Stand (at the Crystal City Water Park) — 1601 Crystal Drive, Arlington Virginia
Open every Friday starting in May, Fridays at the Fountain features a fantastic selection of beer and wine, live music from local bands and musicians, and a rotating lineup of local restaurants and food vendors brought to Crystal City by The Stand.
Attendees also have the option of joining the Fridays at the Fountain “Mug Club” featuring a 16-ounce, branded mug, while supplies last. The Mug Club is $10 and comes with a reusable glass mug and your first drink!
Mug Club members will get discounts on draft beers for the entire Fridays at the Fountain event series (May-October).
Buy your mug today for 1/2 price and enjoy 16 oz pours for the price of a 12 oz beer all summer long!
Arlingtonians won’t have to go far to sample wines from all across the state this weekend.
The Virginia Wine Festival will hold its 43rd annual gathering in Rosslyn’s Gateway Park (1300 Lee Highway), offering up hundreds of wines and ciders from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The event will also feature entertainment and food from a variety of vendors, including an “oyster tent” that showcases offerings from the state’s newly burgeoning oyster industry.
Tickets remain on sale for the event, and will be sold at the entry gate as well, with a glass and unlimited tastings included in the price of admission. The festival will be “largely cashless,” according to its website, and attendees will need to buy tickets to purchase, food and beer.
Organizers say that outside food and drinks won’t be permitted at the event, though they say “blankets, chairs, bags/coolers [and] reasonably sized shade canopies” are all welcome. Pets are also not permitted at the festival, outside of service animals.
County police are also planning on closing a variety of streets in the area each day. They’re warning drivers of the following changes:
- The eastbound lanes of Lee Highway, between Fort Myer Drive and Lynn Street, will be closed from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. All eastbound traffic will be diverted onto Fort Myer Drive and detour signs will be posted.
- Southbound Fort Myer Drive (inbound traffic from Georgetown and the George Washington Parkway) will be closed at Lee Highway from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.. All traffic must turn west onto Lee Highway and can access Rosslyn and Clarendon via N. Scott Street or N. Veitch Street.
- N. Nash Street, between eastbound and westbound Lee Highway, will be closed from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m.
- Exit 73 from eastbound I-66 to Rosslyn will be closed from 10 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Police are warning drivers to avoid the area, and note that “no parking” signs will be posted along many local streets.
The event won’t be the only entertainment offering in Rosslyn this weekend. A Halloween-themed “Bats in the Belfry” concert is planned for the Netherlands Carillon (1400 N. Meade Street) on Saturday starting at 3:30 p.m.
Photo via the Virginia Wine Festival
A bar encouraging patrons to grab a glass of wine and a paintbrush could soon be on the way for Ballston’s biggest new development.
A new Muse Paintbar location seems set to be included in Ballston Quarter, according to new county permit applications. The bar’s listed address is on the first floor of 4238 Wilson Blvd, just down the block from the CVS pharmacy.
Spokespeople for both Muse and Ballston Quarter’s developer, Forest City, did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.
Muse dubs itself as “the premier paint and wine experience” on its website, offering events and private parties to help people learn how to paint while sipping on their adult beverage of choice. The chain has several locations around Northern Virginia, including ones in Falls Church, Woodbridge and Gainesville.
Yet the bar’s opening could be a ways off — Muse only applied for a permit at the site on Wednesday (Sept. 26), with several rounds of review by county inspectors still on tap. The bar also has yet to apply for a permit to serve alcohol at the location, state records show.
Ballston Quarter itself is set to open to patrons by the end of October, though Forest City has long said that the restaurants and businesses inside the new-look Ballston Common mall will open on a rolling basis over the next few months.
Photo via Muse Paintbar. H/t to Chris Slatt
Arlington wine lovers can sample wineries from across the state without traveling far from home this fall.
From Oct. 13-14, Gateway Park in Rosslyn will host the 43rd annual Virginia Wine Festival. The event promises to offer over 200 wines plus “dozens” of ciders.
Those in attendance can also enjoy food vendors, live music and an oyster pavilion serving oysters from the Chesapeake region, according to the festival’s website.
Two-day general admission passes are available for $55. General admission grants attendees a tasting glass, unlimited wine tasting and access to concessions and music.
The 2017 festival took place in Alexandria’s Oronoco Bay Park, and was met with criticism from Visit Alexandria, the city’s tourism booster, for being “inadequately planned,” leading to “crowding and unacceptably long lines.”
Gateway Park does not lack experience in hosting large events — the sizable Rosslyn Jazz Festival, which drew more than 10,000 attendees last September, has called the venue home for the past 28 years.
Photo via Twitter
Crystal City’s summertime happy hour event series, Fridays at the Fountain, is coming back early this year.
The pop-up beer garden event was so well received by the community last year that organizers decided to open this year’s event series on May 4, which is a month earlier than usual, according to a press release from the Crystal City BID, which organizes the events.
Fridays at the Fountain will be held every Friday from May through October at the Crystal City Water Park (1750 Crystal Drive), and events feature live music from local musicians. Admission is free, and beer and wine will be sold for $5. Attendees can also pay $20 to join the “Mug Club” and receive a branded, reusable mug.
This year’s event features a new partnership with The Stand, a concession stand operated by The Social Restaurant Group. Visitors can purchase beverages provided by Crystal City Wine Shop as well as food options from a rotation of local vendors.
Additional performers will be announced soon, but here’s the current music lineup:
- May 4 – Revelator Hill
- May 11 – Whiskey Pull
- May 18 – Zach Cutler & Friends
- May 25 – Gordon Sterling 3
- June 1 – Big Bad Juju
- June 8 – Mary El Band
- June 15 – Revelator Hill
- June 22 – Jonathan Sloane Trio
- June 29 – Holly Montgomery
- July 6 – The Jogo Project
- July 13 – The Jon Miller Band
- July 20 – Gordon Sterling and the People
- July 27 – Big Bad Juju
Photo courtesy Crystal City BID
Barley Mac will be holding its second annual oyster festival on Saturday (April 21) from 1-5 p.m. on its patio, weather permitting.
Festival attendees can dig into unlimited oysters alongside a cigar rolling station, an oyster shucking instructional station, an oyster eating contest, and a live musical performance.
Tickets, ranging in price from $49 online to $59 at the door, will also include two drink tickets and a stemless wine glass.
Barley Mac will be serving raw oysters, oysters Rockefeller, grilled oysters, fried po-boys, oyster stew, fried buffalo batter oysters and oyster ceviche.
The oyster and wine festival will be open for all ages, though those 21 and older will receive a wristband to drink.
Photo courtesy Barley Mac
A mere 90 minutes due west of Arlington is another world, another landscape with a seriously laid-back attitude and decidedly far better scenery.
Hard as it is to believe, but a fast 40-or-so miles away from your harsh hustle and bustle are the sprawling pastures of Sunset Hills Vineyard and 50 West Vineyards, two working farms with breathtaking views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and serving award-winning wines grown among five regional vineyards.
But it’s winter! Even better: The cozy tasting rooms at the vineyards are open year-round, with people who know their wines gladly pouring the fruits of the growing season’s labor for visitors who are exploring the countryside.
A late afternoon at Sunset Hills Vineyard introduces visitors to three of their award-winning wines — the 2016 Viognier and the 2013 Mosaic Bordeaux Blend — as well as the mountain-view sunset the grounds are named for.
“Our Sunset Hills property runs primarily off of solar power and have more than 200 solar panels throughout the grounds,” said Emily Peters, marketing manager for the properties. “Solar power runs our wine production facility, which is why we say we ‘turn sunshine into wine.'”
Sunset Hills, which turns 10 years old this year, is an Old World-style farm, with a historic, restored Amish barn in Purcellville. The website with directions, hours and available wine selection is here.
50 West, operating from a converted horse stable perched on a bluff overlooking the Bull Run Mountains, specializes in classic French Bordeaux-style reds and whites.
50 West Vineyards is on the outskirts of historic Middleburg, in Aldie. The website with directions, hours and available wines is here.
To maximize your day, you can take in both vineyards in one afternoon. They’re about 30 minutes of countryside scenery apart.
As an ARLnow.com reader bonus, there is an offer of half-price tastings plus 20 percent off bottles. Register here to receive this limited-time discount.
Both vineyards use 100 percent Virginia grapes, and both brands are active in local philanthropic efforts, Peters added. Among the nonprofits supported are the Sweet Julia Grace Foundation, Loudoun County Hunger Relief and Boulder Crest Retreat. Last October the vineyards donated nearly $20,000 to the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.
For more information on 50 West Vineyards and Sunset Hills Vineyards, send an email via this page.
The preceding post was written by ARLnow.com and sponsored by 50 West Vineyards and Sunset Hills Vineyards.
A new wine bar and restaurant is open on the first floor of a Courthouse hotel.
Verre Wine Bar and Restaurant is located at 2415 Wilson Blvd, on the first floor of the Hyatt Place hotel, which opened ahead of schedule last year. Based on photos posted to the wine bar’s Yelp page, it opened in November.
Verre has an extensive wine and draft beer list, as well as small plates and cheese and charcuterie boards among other foods. It opens at 5 p.m. each day with happy hour.
A new wine store and gourmet shop is coming to Pentagon City, according to a Virginia ABC application.
The store, called Pentagon City Wine Merchant in the application, would be located at 1330 S. Fair Street, near The Millennium at Metropolitan Park apartment building and across from Costco.
It may replace the Tutti Frutti frozen yogurt store, which closed in 2015 and had gone unfilled until now. The new store will also be next door to the Epic Smokehouse, an upscale barbecue restaurant that opened in 2012.
As of Tuesday, August 1, no building permit applications had been filed with the county.
Calls to the phone number associated with the ABC application went unreturned.
In addition to facing competition from the Costco across the street, the store will also compete with the Whole Foods store a block away.
Police were called to the Whole Foods at 2700 Wilson Blvd around 7 a.m. Friday for a report of someone throwing objects out of a second floor window. When the arrived they allegedly found a 21-year-old Arlington man who was drunk and tossing wine bottles and change at a car below.
More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:
MISSILE INTO OCCUPIED VEHICLE, 2017-06160070, 2700 block of Wilson Boulevard. At approximately 7:09 a.m. on June 16, officers responded to the report of an individual throwing objects. Upon arrival, it was determined a male subject was throwing objects at an occupied vehicle from an upstairs window. No one was injured. Marvin Sosa Velasquez, 21, of Arlington VA, was arrested and charged with missile into occupied vehicle and drunk in public. He is being held without bond.