For many, wine can be a mystery.
When we go to the store to pick up a bottle of wine, most of us mere mortals have absolutely no idea what we are doing. Either we just go along with what someone else told us, or we treat it like a game of darts, wearing a blindfold. In short, we guess.
Well, there’s hope for us yet.
House of Pure Vin in Detroit can take the mystery and intimidation out of enjoying the fruits of one of Michigan’s little-known thriving industries – wine, champagne and hard ciders.
It may be little-known, but it’s big business. According to the Michigan Grape and Wine Industry Council, wine, grapes and grape juice have an economic impact in our state of nearly $790 million. So, three partners decided to open up a high-end wine shop and tasting room downtown and grab a piece of the fruitful bounty.
Regina Gaines, Terry Mullins and Andrea Dunbar found a great spot on the first floor of the Lofts at Merchants Row building on Woodward Avenue and opened up House of Pure Vin on December 16, 2015. If the surge in customers and attention is any indication, their investment is going to definitely pay off.
“We wanted to combine tourism and retail in one unique location,” says Gaines. “People think of Michigan as only an automotive state. We are so much more.”
Michigan has more than 13,700 acres of vineyards, making us the fourth largest grape-growing state in the country, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Gaines is a native Detroiter with decades of experience in wine and spirits. She even started her tequila brand some years back.
Along with Gaines, Mullins and Dunbar, Jena Scott has also come on board as a partner. She oversees the day-to-day operations of the HOPV wine club and works closely with the sommelier on wine selections. She is also responsible for hiring at the shop and making sure customer service is excellent.
“You don’t have to break the bank to get something good.” -Regina Gaines, Co-Owner, House of Vin
These four moms grew up in Detroit and want to be a part of the rebuild effort and leave a mark on the city in a meaningful and fun way.
For these ladies, House of Pure Vin is where it all came together – to build and share in a legacy for their children and the community.” Their experience started the business off on a strong and solid footing.
The other huge bonus was adding a master sommelier to the team. Claudia Tyagi is one of only three female master sommeliers in the state and one of only 25 women in the world to achieve the designation.
A sommelier helps develop the shop’s wine collection, steers it in the right direction and makes sure the vintages on hand stay relevant.
This is a place where people can come in and learn for themselves what they like,” adds Gaines, who says no one should be intimidated to come into the shop. “More than 75 percent of the people coming in the store have no idea what they are buying. Just because a wine costs a lot of money doesn’t mean you will like it. You don’t have to break the bank to get something good.”
More than anything, the owners stress finding what you like and then working from there. To help with the education process, House of Pure Vin offers free tastings, food-pairing classes and a wine club that includes two bottles a month.
“I have a friend who won’t drink anything unless it costs at least $100,” says Gaines. “Me, I get excited when I find a $35 of something great.”
The shop features about 1,300 brands of wines, champagnes and hard ciders, so odds are you’ll find a wine to suit you perfectly. In the vast sea of brands available, more than 140 are grown right here in our state.
It also offers delivery service within Michigan and has plans to expand beyond our borders in the future.
“We want to see how the completion of the M-1 rail project impacts business downtown and then grow into other areas,” says Gaines. “(This) transportation will be big for us and all businesses along the route. When we opened up there was some growth happening, but nothing like what we have seen over the last six months or so. We are excited about what is happening in the city.”