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Anyone know what the status of the Best Cellars wine store in Clarendon is? There is a sign saying improvements are underway, and it is closed. I peered through the door and it doesn't seem like any physical renovations are underway, and the store opened a year or less ago. Is there some kind of management shake-up or some other issue going on?

For those that may not be familiar with this Best Cellars -- it has several wines available by the glass, so it has always been a good place to stop off for a pop after shopping at Whole Foods which is just one block further down the street.

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Like selling wine by the glass at a liquor store? :lol:  

Can you DO that?

I sure hope so because that was the whole concept of this place, allowing you to buy a glass or three of a wine before you decided to purchase a bottle. I can't believe that they would have simply assumed it's legal without getting a definitive ruling from the authorities.

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They have an on and off-premise license, so that wasn't the issue.  VA laws are screwy though; it might've had to do with not selling enough food (funny, since wine shops in NY aren't allowed to sell food!)

Well, let's hope they get some cheese/charcouterie going -- a la Arrowine, which doesn't sell by the glass. That would make it an even better stop for a pop after you shop location. :lol:

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Josh Wesson, owner/founder of Best Cellars, was in town last month and I talked to him briefly. He says they're going to start expanding in northern Virginia. I asked specifically if Crystal City was in the mix on that new area on Crystal Drive where I think it would fit perfectly. He did not confirm nor deny.

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Well, let's hope they get some cheese/charcouterie going -- a la Arrowine, which doesn't sell by the glass.  That would make it an even better stop for a pop after you shop location.  :P

What happened was that they were not selling enough food to be able to maintain their on-premise license and therefore had to remove all the wine and reapply for a new, off-premise only license. I talked to Amy, GM of the Clarendon store and she is hopeful that they will be back up and running the first week of September but unfortunately without the ability to offer "a pop" after you shop. You'll have to stick with Tallula's for that.

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My sister works part time at that store in Clarendon and she told me yesterday that they are reopening either next week or the following week and she is back on the schedule. She works Monday evenings and her name is Molly and she loves it when people tease and make fun of her. Just ask me, I'm her sister. :-)

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Best Cellars chief Josh Wesson will be guest presenter at a National Geographic event on November 15. Wesson introduced cheese expert Steven Jenkins at a similar program earlier this year and was VERY entertaining.

For what it's worth, in the two events at Nat Geo that I attended where Best Cellars was providing the wine, the first one had free flowing quantities that made it quite fun. The second one was much stingier and you had to savor every little drop that came out of your cup because there wasn't more coming.

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Just found out that the re-opening will be Sept 9th or thereabouts.  That is when their license will be delivered.

I heard on the radio this morning that the Clarendon store will reopen this weekend and it will donate 5% of its proceeds during the weekend to Katrina relief.
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I heard on the radio this morning that the Clarendon store will reopen this weekend and it will donate 5% of its proceeds during the weekend to Katrina relief.

They reopened with a bang and a lot of familiar faces on Friday - Josh was there greeting and selling like he loves to do.

Plz tell everyone to stop on by - just remember that there is no wine bar anymore.

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I'm with Sthitch. The place seems more like it's run by marketing professionals than by real wine afficianados.  I have less than a block from my office and haven't been inside in over a year.  Cute gimmicks, forgettable wine.

Beginners. It's comfortable for beginners and eases accessibility for them. It's built around answering the most basic questions about wine, even if the questions are not asked out loud to someone. It's priced to allow beginners (and others) to be comfortable making mistakes and to learn more of their likes and dislikes. If this place was around when I was a beginner I'd probably be more than an "intermediate" now. I think it's a great concept.

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Beginners.  It's comfortable for beginners and eases accessibility for them.  It's built around answering the most basic questions about wine, even if the questions are not asked out loud to someone.  It's priced to allow beginners (and others) to be comfortable making mistakes and to learn more of their likes and dislikes.  If this place was around when I was a beginner I'd probably be more than an "intermediate" now.  I think it's a great concept.

They DO wrap up gift bottles rather nicely, having been the recipient of such. And the wine was pretty good, too. However, there are much better selections at much better prices not very far away from the Dupont Circle store.

Edited by Barbara
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Beginners.  It's comfortable for beginners and eases accessibility for them.  It's built around answering the most basic questions about wine, even if the questions are not asked out loud to someone.  It's priced to allow beginners (and others) to be comfortable making mistakes and to learn more of their likes and dislikes.  If this place was around when I was a beginner I'd probably be more than an "intermediate" now.  I think it's a great concept.

I do agree about the accessibility of the store. I found it nice when I first started getting into wine-- having the selections whittled down a bit. The prices are a bit deceiving, though. Since everything's under $15, you may think you're getting a bargain, but the wine is mostly marked up quite a bit more than elsewhere. The wine/deli store a couple of blocks away at the corner of Dupont and Q carries alot of the same wines at about 20% less. I was talking to the buyer there one time about BC (the guy with the ponytail-- I forget his name) and his comment was, "Hey, something's got to pay for all that open space in there".

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I do agree about the accessibility of the store. I found it nice when I first started getting into wine-- having the selections whittled down a bit.  The prices are a bit deceiving, though.  Since everything's under $15, you may think you're getting a bargain, but the wine is mostly marked up quite a bit more than elsewhere.  The wine/deli store a couple of blocks away at the corner of Dupont and Q carries alot of the same wines at about 20% less.   I was talking to the buyer there one time about BC (the guy with the ponytail-- I forget his name)  and his comment was, "Hey, something's got to pay for all that open space in there".

Hence the wisdom of locating in Clarendon where their only competition is Whole Foods with equally high mark-ups on wine.

But I agree, and in fact have recommended BC to neophytes who do not have formed tastes, with those who point out this is a good place for novices to explore many varieties of wine without taking too big a hit in the old wallet.

Edited by FunnyJohn
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According to the Prince of Petworth blog, the Dupont location will be closing Feb. 13th. They hope to reopen somewhere else.

True. I hear that their rent got jacked through the ceiling, necessitating them bugging-out of there.

Not so easy to move a liquor license in D.C. though, especially a class "A" (spirits) license. I wouldn't expect them to re-open in new digs anytime really soon. They will have beaucoup des hoops to jump through to make that happen.

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A broken iPhone led me to Clarendon (naturally) and I popped into BC to pick up a bottle of the cheap vino verde the gf likes from there. This location is closing in a few weeks (I think the 16th, but can't remember exactly). All wine is 25% off until then. Corporate is closing all the locations but the NYC branch. Sad, but not surprising.

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If I'm not mistaken, Best Cellars has been in Chapter 11 since early this year, plus they are part of the A&P/Superfresh conglomerate which is also struggling. I was hoping they could pull it off and save the stores, but it seems like they've pulled the plug. A shame really, as I thought the recession had been having an inverse effect on alcohol sales. It was always a nice place to stop in and find a fun affordable bottle for that night's dinner.

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