Inspiration can strike anywhere — even while you’re on vacation. Bill Hartsock went to the beach in South Carolina and came home with a plan for a new business.
The former Hermitage Country Club sommelier’s new venture, Richmond Wine Station, is based on a shop he saw on Kiawah Island, just south of Charleston.
“I fell in love with the whole concept,” he says.
It operated a lot like a Sweet Frog Premium Frozen Yogurt shop, if you substitute wine for yogurt and ditch the toppings. Add lots of wood and well-designed lighting, and you get a sense of what the experience was like.
Hartsock is using the South Carolina wine shop as a blueprint for his Richmond project, opening at 2930 W. Broad St. near Three Notch’d Brewing Co.’s RVA Collab House. The shop will offer wine by the glass and bottles to take home.
You’ll find 64 pour-it-yourself wines and eight beers on tap. Across one wall and in three freestanding kiosks, wine stations with four dispensers each are topped with computers. Inside the wine stations, bottles are turned upside down, with argon gas keeping out air to prevent wine degradation.
Customers purchase a reloadable card, and with a swipe they can choose from a 1-ounce, 2 1/2-ounce or 5-ounce pour. Glasses will sit on shelves next to each station, with racks above and below holding bottles to take home. The card also functions as an inventory tracker — Hartsock can watch what’s being sold in real time from his laptop at home.
He found the location about a year ago, and once the development of the property geared up, he signed the lease. Scott’s Addition is brimming with breweries and wine “is the only piece missing,” he says.
The space isn’t large enough for storage, so all of Hartsock’s wines will be on the floor. There’s no room for a kitchen either, so light fare will be provided by Mosaic Catering and Events, located across the street from the spot.
Although Hartsock wants it to be an affordable experience, for the more adventurous — and well-heeled — he also plans to offer some pricey choices. Things such as an $800-$900 bottle of Lafite Rothschild will be available to taste — although that ounce you try might cost you $50. Still, it’s access to the kind of wine most of us haven’t experienced.
But the majority of wines will run about $1.50 to $5 an ounce.
“You can try 10 wines and not spend a lot,” he says. “I tell people if they try all 64, they get a free Uber ride home.” Hartsock has a two-year exclusive across Virginia from the company that sells the wine-dispensing equipment.
The plan is to open in mid-March, with daily hours from 3-11 p.m. Right now, Hartsock is waiting on cabinetry and permits.
“There’s no other place in Richmond like it,” he says.