Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend an intimate gathering of food and wine writers at Gary’s Wine + Marketplace in Wayne, NJ. The event was graciously hosted by Gary Fisch, the very engaging owner of the establishment bearing his name, who presented an overview of the facility’s wine operations and also its extensive liquor, beer and food presence.
There are three Gary’s Wine locations in northern New Jersey: the original in Madison, one in Bernardsville and the newest, flagship location in Wayne. The 24,000 square feet location in Wayne has a European marketplace feel with over 3,000 wine bottle selections, a temperature-controlled wine room, a gourmet giftware department and an extensive specialty food assortment.
The wine selection might be overwhelming if not for the well-versed, helpful staff at Gary’s Wine. There is an array of organic, biodynamic and Kosher wines to please every palate. Wines are arranged by country of origin within the facility and many wines feature shelf talkers – tags denoting the wines’ characteristics and ratings – making it simple for wine enthusiasts of any knowledge grade to make informed purchasing decisions.
During our visit, the group had an opportunity to not only visit the gorgeous, climate-controlled wine room with its many cult classics, we had the chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the temperature-controlled warehouse with its hundreds of wine cases. The scope of the operations became clearer as we visited the shipping department charged with the daunting task of packing and sending thousands of cases of wine yearly.
The specialty food area, larger in size than many local delis, features over 150 fresh-cut cheeses and a selection of gourmet-prepared foods and meals to go. There is even a flower shop where guests of the store will find high-quality flowers at moderate prices.
An exciting new tool at Gary’s Wine is the Napa Technology wine dispenser system in the wine bar area. The week-old system allows the staff to pour samples of eight wines to patrons from opened bottles that will stay fresh-tasting for up to 60 days.
Wine might be king at Gary’s but the store offers an extensive selection of spirits, including a wide array of single-malt Scotch and single-barrel bourbon. The ever popular craft beer is also prominently showcased at Gary’s with a 26-door cooler dedicated solely to beer. The interest in beer has even urged the staff to create the “6-Pack of the Month” which features six, 12-ounce bottles in a 6-pack carrier of various beers ranging from small-batch craft to more popular labels.
Gary’s Wine has a web presence that accounts for about 10% of its business and growing. Fisch considers the web his “4th and fastest growing store” and as such, the marketing team, headed by Sue Guerra, has invested in a new website with easy-to-maneuver navigation, rich specials and a food and wine pairing tool that will prove invaluable to online buyers.
Gary’s Wine + Marketplace is more than just a wine shop, it’s a food and wine destination where shoppers experience a friendly, knowledgeable staff, find interesting foods to serve at their next gathering and where wine is demystified to make buying a bottle exciting for connoisseurs and less daunting for newbies. Make a visit to Gary’s Wine, the 2012 “Retailer of the Year” as chosen by Beverage Dynamics, part of your upcoming shopping plans.
Gary’s Wine + Marketplace
1308 Route 23 North, Wayne, NJ 07470
Veronique Deblois, Food & Wine Chickie: Veronique is a food and wine writer based in Morris County, NJ. As the author of the popular blog, Food & Wine Chickie Insider, Veronique shares recipes, wine and restaurant reviews and insight into the travel industry of which she’s a 15-year veteran. Follow Veronique on Twitter or like her Facebook page.