Annie’s Wine Cottage
Story and photos by Gary Budzak
On a sunny March afternoon, a woman enters Annie’s Wine Cottage on the busy main drag in Powell. Proprietor Anne Gabriel looks up from her conversation and greets the customer.
“You’re holding two bottles for me,” Gabriel is told, and there is a amiable transaction involving Mumbo Jumbo, a pinot noir made by Treasure Hunter wines and described as a great value. Half of the pinots on a top shelf can only be found in this store if you are in the Columbus area.
“I always thought Powell needed a wine shop,” said Gabriel, a resident of Westerville in Delaware County. “I knew as soon as I walked in that this was it. I never wanted to be in a strip mall, I wanted to be in a place with character. This fit the bill.”
The shop is located in the first floor of an old home that was last an art gallery. Bottles stand neatly arranged by type on tall, multi-shelf racks that ring most of the walls. Some bottles have their own write-up from publications, number grades, and prices ranging from $7.99 to $279. There are also some wine supplies, local meats, cheeses and tomato sauce for sale.
“When the weather is good, business is good,” the camera-shy but engaging Gabriel said. “We get a lot of repeat customers, some say I knew you were here, and then we get walk-ins, OMG a wine shop.”
In the center of the elegant home are wooden benches that can seat 30 to 40 people. This is the setting for paid events such as wine tastings and wine classes, a wine club and private parties.
“The end of May, we will have a beer and wine full consumption permit, so we’ll be able to pull a bottle of wine off the shelf and drink it completely, which we currently can’t do — samples are allowed,” she said. “The plans are we’re going to put a patio off to the side here and we’ll be able to use the porch. We’ll be able to do before- and after-dinner parties.”
A bar will also be built, and Gabriel said she is making a list of specialty craft beers to carry. She praised Powell city government, the Delaware Health District and Ohio Liquor Control for being easy to work with.
Downtown Powell is coming into its own, Gabriel said, and Annie’s Wine Cottage opened Sept. 1, 2017, as part of that transformation. A graduate of Ohio University, Anne said she had worked 25 years in the wine industry before deciding to open her own business, with the support and assistance of her husband John Gabriel.
“It’s nice being your own boss,” Gabriel said. “I really like the educational component, direct contact with customers and I can just engage them and encourage them to try something they haven’t had. I’m working way harder now than before.”
Don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated, if wine is all just Mumbo Jumbo to you, Gabriel will ask you what you drink and may offer a sample as you look around. This gives her a chance to learn your taste profile and budget.
“I have Giant Eagle and Hills down the street, so the thing I like to offer is unique items and my knowledge.”
However, she also carries Ohio-made brands like Firelands and popular brands such as Federalist.
“It’s a decent wine and I don’t want a shop where someone doesn’t recognize any of the brands. You want to make people feel comfortable. I know there are some wine shop owners that won’t carry anything that’s in the grocery store. I don’t subscribe to that philosophy.”
When she’s not dealing with customers, Gabriel may meet with distributors, who will discuss the latest brands. Gabriel said the distributors are invaluable in recommending different kinds of wines, because she hasn’t tried everything she carries.
As for special requests for obscure overseas brands, Gabriel said she’ll do her best to find them, “but some of it is just from family-owned wineries that don’t make it to America.”
Watching Gabriel interact with customers and distributors alike, it’s evident wine is a way to break bread with friends and strangers alike, one of those drinks with its own chapter in the book “A History of the World in Six Glasses.” (The others are beer, spirits, coffee, tea and cola).
“Wine brings people together — it’s the one beverage that creates conversation all over the world,” Gabriel said.
Annie’s Wine Cottage
30 W. Olentangy St., Powell
614-734-4646 or www.annieswinecottage.com