The Customer Wins at Wine Authorities

WineAuthoritiesEver since they opened their Durham shop, owners Seth Gross  and Craig Heffley have persistently emailed me, trying to get me into Wine Authorities.  They’d tell me that had a spot available for one of their wine classes at no charge.  They’d let me know about how they could help me to remember which wines I drank (which I’ve NEVER been able to do).  Heck, they recently emailed me to let me know that they sell a bunch of artisinal bacons.  But I never visited their store, despite their efforts to the contrary.

Finally, this past Saturday, I had a need for wine and some spare time and made the 24 minute drive.  The store was packed with about 20 folks sitting around the tasting bar in the rear, listening to Heffley talking about the 4 wines being sampled.  I introduced myself to Gross, who was manning a cash register, and he quickly showed me what the store is all about.  Shortly thereafter,  I quickly kicked myself for not getting over to Wine Authorities sooner.  Yes, I knew that the public loves them and their commitment to smaller estate wineries.  I know that they’d been written up in the big food magazines.  I knew that they focused on value, selling no wines over $50.  And I had heard about how consumer-focused they were, but I had no idea how much so.

I now know better.  A lot better.

Wine Authorities is the wine shop that should be in every town.  They make it incredibly easy on the customer to find a great wine within his or her particular budgetary constraints.  They don’t push any wine.  They listen to the customer and make appropriate recommendations.  They don’t act superior or condescending, even when you butcher the pronunciation of “Languedoc.”  And to me, most importantly, they help me remember what it is that I bought and drank.  At checkout, you get a print-out describing each wine in your purchase.  From your home you can access a listing of those same purchases — strike that, a listing of any wine you’ve ever bought at the place, sortable by price, date of purchase, personal rating, and more.  You can add your own tasting notes.  Mine are very simple, like, “Great, refreshing party wine!”  Or, “Loved the fruit in this one.”  As I’ve written before, I’m no wine guy.  But that Barbera d’Asti I bought was a Cantina Sant’ Evasio, and the rosé is a Chateau Bellevue la Forêt, Fronton Rosé.  I still might not remember the wines, but at least I can recall them electronically.  Man, I love these guys.

But they’re in Durham.  Where the cool kids hang out.  I’m pushing them to open a shop in Raleigh, but until they do, I might have to get used to the drive to the Bull City.


Wine Authorities
2501 University Drive
Durham, NC 27707


5 Responses to The Customer Wins at Wine Authorities

  1. Joe says:

    Join us. JOIN US…. [holds arms out and marches forth in zombie fashion]

  2. Robert says:

    I only know the wine shops in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Durham, but Wine Authorities wins hands down. Whenever possible, I make the trek out there.

    We split our shopping between W.A. and Chapel Hill Wine, for the most part, and the experiences are like night and day.

    I also think Wine Authorities has a better discount – 10% on a half case, with no need to buy some sort of “wine tote” to get the discount. This is one reason I’ve stoped frequenting other stores if I’m going to buy that number of bottles.

    I spoke with staff at CHW about their wine tote and 6-bottle discount, and how the process/requirement was keeping me from spending more money in their store, but they were not swayed. I am not their choice income demographic, I suspect, although I will say they are always very friendly.

    I like the Wine Authorities partners with other local businesses on projects and product placement. They did an online tasting once that was a lot of fun. …

    I don’t work for them, promise.


  3. leandra says:

    We’ve been shopping at WA more or less since they opened and have always been pleased with the quality of tastings and recommendations from Craig and Seth. I actually met them years ago at a Restaurant Starlu wine tasting, so when I first walked in we immediately recognized each other!

    Generally, we split our time between WA and Hope Valley Bottle Shop which is a tiny bit closer to us.

  4. Nancy says:

    It took me awhile to get over to Wine Authorities too, as it is out of my normal shopping rotation, but I am ever so glad I made it out there and try to visit every couple of months or so. Love the place, the Enomatic, the cheese, the coffee, the bacon, the sausage …

  5. Craig says:

    Now open in Raleigh! @ 211 East Franklin Street

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