Last month, I was asked to attend the pre-opening party for Total Wine & More, a new wine, spirit and beer mega-store.  Located a stone’s throw from Houston-based Spec’s Wine Spirits and Finer Foods and what is soon to be a Trader Joe’s location, it appears Dallas is finally being recognized for our love affair with wine, spirits and hand-crafted beers.  And there is a lot to fall in love with at Total Wine.  The store, which is the company’s 80th location and first in Texas, is 43,000 square feet filled with over 8,000 wines, 3,000 types of spirits and 2,500 different beers.  

The vibe is upscale, yet open with a very cool classroom that is offered for free for community events, which could include wine tastings.  Folks, I see an event for Dallas Wine Chick readers in our future.  The focus for employees is wine education .

I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Alfio Moriconi, vice president of European imports and sales, who led a recent trip to Italy for Total Wine’s top associates.  Alfio, a hospitality veteran, got into wine through his own importing company.  When he decided it was time for another challenge, Total Wine recruited him to build their international wine selection.  What I liked the most about talking to Alfio, other than the fact that he is an adorable Italian charmer, is his passion for wine.  I asked him to give me a recommendation for his favorite European wines – one budget, one mid-range and one high end.  His most expensive choice (which are marked with his name on the bottles) was $29.99.

When I asked John Jordan, chief customer officer, about Total Wine’s priorities, he told me  “wine and consumer education; giving back to the community and becoming the low price leader.”  Based on my recent research on pricing amongst competitors, it appears they are fulfilling that claim. 

After attending the opening, a friend asked me if I thought the mom and pop stores and wine bars would suffer.  I don’t think so and let me know if you disagree.  I believe our closely knit group of consumers look for a variety of experiences that will enhance the wine culture in our community.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.