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Expanding in 2013: The Wine Seller

January 2, 2013

“A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou ...”
— Omar Khayyam

Note: This is the first in an occasional series looking at local businesses planning to expand in 2013. If you know of an Apple Valley business expanding this year, email MHaprov@VVDailyPress.com.

By Davida Siwisa James
APPLE VALLEY REVIEW

In a promising sign of growth, one Apple Valley store has doubled its square footage, added a dozen and a half beers on tap and increased inventory — all in an attempt to fill a niche that’s been missing in the High Desert.

Wine Seller proprietress Arlene Pence-Bruinsma days before Christmas put the finishing touches on an adjoining suite as the store expanded from 1,500 square feet to 3,000 square feet.

“We’ve increased our sales each year,” said Pence-Bruinsma. The added suite accommodates an expanded tasting room with extra space for wine accessories and a comfortable setting for musicians.

The shop, which originally opened in 2008, has daily tastings ranging from $5 to $25. A tasting involves a two-ounce pour of each of the day’s selected wines. The beer sampling is a four-ounce pour from the microbrew selection. There are special tastings sponsored by the distributors or vineyards.

“My girlfriend owned it previously,” said Pence-Bruinsma. “I just loved it here. I took it over in December of 2010.”

There is an eclectic selection of live music on Saturday nights. The live entertainment, background music to the tastings, will increase to Friday nights as well.

“We’ve expanded on the wine selection and our beer selection,” said Pence-Bruinsma. “We are adding 18 beers on tap to our microbrew selection. We also sell growlers of beer.” A “growler” is a reusable “to go” glass jug that holds a half gallon of beer from the tap. A microbrew is all about the smaller, specialized or “gourmet” brews, like the chilled Banana Bread Beer from England.

“There is a niche in the High Desert that hasn’t been filled,” Kristin Lekens, store clerk, said Friday. “Our customers asked for more room because we max out, plus more microbrews in an adult atmosphere where they can have a conversation. Microbrews are huge and finding somewhere up here that offers what we have is impossible.”

A sommelier gives wine classes about once a month, teaching a little wine history, how to hold the glass, and helping people appreciate the aromas and flavors of the wine. They are hoping to engage a cicerone, a master beer specialist who is the equivalent of a sommelier, who is an expert on wines.

“Our customers are great — savvy and mature. We have people come from Phelan, Oak Hills, Barstow and down the hill,” said Pence-Bruinsma. “We like to think that we are helping them learn to appreciate different wines with our large selection and classes.”

“The Wine Seller, as a whole, has become an extension of Arlene’s home and we want our customers to feel welcome to come, ask questions and learn about multiple beers and wine like they were chatting with friends,” Lekens said. “We kept saying to each other in the construction process, ‘If we build it, they will come.’ And they have.”

The shop has unique gift baskets, as well as a wide array of wine accessories-creative wine bags, wine stoppers, and even a wine holiday ornament.

The Wine Seller is on the second floor at 19341 Bear Valley Road. For more information, click on TheWineSellerAppleValley.com.