In New York’s popular wine-producing regions, you may walk into a wine shop and find several bottles of New York wine on the shelves. Walk into a New York City wine shop, and you’re less likely to see a selection of local wines. That’s not so at 67 Wine & Spirits.
The shop on New York City’s Upper West Side is increasingly adding to its local wine offerings. For its support of the state’s wine industry, New York Wine & Grapes awarded the retail outlet with the 2023 Unity Retailer Award, presented to a wine store that does an exceptional job in educating consumers about the quality and variety of New York wines.
The bottle shop has been in business since 1941, and it’s consistently rated one of the best wine shops in New York. The staff at 67 Wine & Spirits prides themselves on its quality service and its outstanding selection. The employee who adds New York State wines to that outstanding selection and educates consumers about them is Adrienne Cooper, the East Coast/Specialty Wine & Spirits Buyer.
Expanding the New York Wine Section
When Adrienne started working for 67 Wine & Spirits, she had 15 years of experience in the food, beverage and hospitality industries. She went to school for hospitality management and worked for hotels, catering companies, restaurants, and bakeries. Additionally, she hosted food tours in New York City. Most of her experience was food focused, but she always had a toe in the wine industry.
When the Covid19 pandemic hit, she committed full-time to the beverage industry and took the job with 67 Wine & Spirits .
“As someone who has always been a lover of all things local—as a food tour guide I was always trying to tell people the stories of locally produced goods—I took a look at their New York wine selection and thought it could use some help and some love,” says Adrienne.
It took a bit of convincing, but eventually, she was trusted enough to take on the position of bringing in local wine. She also started working on her certification with the Society of Wine Educators.
The Ah-ha Local Wine Moment
“It’s important to focus on local for a variety of reasons,” says Adrienne. “For our health, for the environment’s health, and for the economy of the local region.”
She had a basic idea of what was going on in the New York wine industry before she started the job at 67 Wine & Spirits, particularly with Riesling.
She kept an eye out, and a “tongue out,” for other local wines. She gained additional knowledge about them when she worked for Red Hook Lobster Pound in Brooklyn because the restaurant carried New York wines. She began to understand that New York was a wine region that was coming of age.
Then she tried New York Cabernet Franc, and she had an “ah-ha” moment.
“Oh wait,” she remembers thinking. “We have good red wine, too? And, I like this varietal more than I like Cab Sauv?”
The Customer Learning Curve
Getting New York wine on 67 Wine & Spirits shelves was one thing. Getting customers to purchase it was another.
“It was a battle,” says Adrienne. “I’m not going to lie and say everyone is purchasing New York wine now.”
It takes some convincing, but the proof is in the pour. When customers have a chance to sample the wines, they see what’s possible from New York.
The biggest challenge Adrienne and the rest of the staff at 67 Wine & Spirits has is getting people to understand why they should spend money on New York wine when they can get a cheaper wine from California or Europe.
“It requires more hand holding. It requires more discussion, but that’s something I know how to do because I’ve done that as a tour guide. I’ve been an educator in a non-traditional way for a really long time, “ she says. “As long as I have someone who is willing to listen to me, I can teach them about the wines.”
Adrienne’s role at the shop has expanded and she now also brings wines from other states that are not West Coast. But New York will always be her heart, “her #1,” she says, partly because she admires the producers.
“Because it’s a smaller emerging region, with some great history, it’s really inspiring to see somebody like Dr. Frank’s vineyards open to giving advice and working with smaller startups who are just coming into the industry. There really does seem to be that community within New York’s industry,” says Adrienne. “I think it’s wonderful, and I feel that’s the way these things should go. There’s not enough of that overall in the wine industry.”
Adrienne, who loves sharing her passion for the wines through telling stories, says that being honored that 67 Wine & Spirits won the Retailer Unity Award “is an understatement.”
“To take over this section and then get immediate recognition, it’s validating. It’s an encouragement to keep doing what I’m doing. This is making a difference and it does matter and people are noticing,” she says.
The Unity Awards were created in 1990 as a way to recognize, encourage, and celebrate cooperation among grape growers, wineries (and their staff), researchers, retailers and others to advance the entire industry. The winery and grower community in New York state has a rich history of working and succeeding together despite facing a variety of challenges through the years. Recognizing the longstanding and bold spirit of our community members and their numerous achievements, the New York Wine & Grape Foundation is proud to continue honoring industry leaders & champions of New York wine for more than 30 years.