Matching Great Drinks With The Right Occasion: The Wine Country
By John Grossi
Last year The Wine Country, located at the corner of Redondo Ave and Industry Drive just north of Hill St. in Signal Hill, celebrated its 25th year in business. If you haven’t perused its sprawling shelves of worldly wines, craft beers, and high quality food, then you’re missing one of the true treasure troves in Long Beach. At 7,000 square feet, the store is a roomy and inviting space in which to shop.
Owners Randy and Dale Kemner are both lifelong residents of Long Beach. They started The Wine Country to bring their Long Beach community a “different kind of wine.”
As Randy defines it…”One that respected tradition and proved you didn’t have to spend a ton of money to get really thrilling wines, if you know where to look.”
Their bread and butter is imported wines from across the world— France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal to name a few. The Wine Country also carries large selections of domestic and California wines. Once customers start buying wine from The Wine Country, they generally don’t stop. The Kemners attribute a three-part secret formula to building that loyalty, for which they are so thankful.
Part one encompasses the employees at The Wine Country. Randy and Dale have a small but long-time staff of highly educated employees who actually know what they are talking about within their specialty. Employees are split up by region, and each commits to a never-ending obsession with educating, tasting, building relationships, and curating the best possible selection of wines from their particular region.
Parts two and three of The Wine Country’s success define that word “quality.” The Wine Country was never created with a vision to cater to the extremely wealthy wine connoisseurs of the world. Randy and Dale believe that the true enjoyment of wine can be accessible to all if they look for wines:
• From the best suppliers;
• At the right price; and
• For the right occasion.
“One reason we sell so many imported wines is that our customers learn to appreciate the really thrilling varieties of flavors available that are a lot less expensive than some of the domestic wines. They often have a lower alcohol percentage as well,” explains Randy. “You just have to know where to look, and we know where to look!”
Price is always important to Randy and his staff. While they do carry some expensive wines, they take pride in finding the right wines for the right occasion over the most expensive bottle available. A good $30 wine with the right meal will accentuate the experience better than a $100 bottle of wine with the wrong meal.
“One thing I’ve learned along the way,” says Randy, “is to be food oriented. For our customers who want some guidance for matching wines with, say, a Greek or Lebanese takeout, Italian or German food. That’s the real joy and fun of shopping here. We can match up the wines that were specifically bred with those types of food that naturally complement your meal.”
“The wines bred in the “Olive Oil Belt” taste better when cooking with olive oil. The wines produced where cooking with butter is the tradition pair well with those foods. Wines produced near fishing communities complement seafood best, etc. As someone born in Long Beach,” says Randy, “this came as a revelation to me. It opened up a world of excitement and exponentially expanded my enjoyment of wine drinking.”
Randy believes that once people begin to utilize The Wine Country’s staff, knowledge, and selection to complement the occasion at which the wine will be consumed, they have realized the store’s expertise to its full potential.
The Wine Country applies this same process to its beer, spirits, and food; as a result, they have seen a huge boost in the younger generation discovering their store. Millennial shoppers are lured in as much by the store’s exceptional craft beer selection as its wide range of wines.
Randy, Dale, and their staff would love to welcome you into their close-knit community of shoppers. Follow their website for updates on when weekly wine tastings will return, and discover the next level of enjoyment when it comes to whatever you drink! When you shop at The Wine Country, you have confidence you’re getting the most enjoyment at any price!