By Francois Steichen
Spend any time in Greenwich, and you realize that it’s not so much a Town as a Federation of Villages, each forming a Neighborhood, the whole of which is the size of a City.
Nowhere is this geographical diversity more apparent than in Greenwich’s 23 wine and spirits emporia, spread over 8 distinct neighborhoods.
On the New York border near Purchase, there’s Connecticut Wine & Liquor, Glenville Wine & Spirits, and Val’s Glenville.
Toward Port Chester, there’s Madison Wine & Liquor and East Port Chester Wine & Liquor.
Bellmore, Val’s Putnam and Citarella complete the West End of Town.
Horseneck, Continental, and Wine Wise sit at the top of the Avenue; Putnam and Vine is in the center of town; and Bruce Park Liquors and Bruce Park Bottles & More are at the bottom of the Avenue.
Travel along Putnam Avenue toward the East End, and you find Post Wine & Spirits in Cos Cob; Balducci’s, then Greenwich Wine & Spirit, in Riverside; and A1 Cellars in the Riverside Shopping Center. Go down Sound Beach Avenue to check out Old Greenwich Wine Merchants, Sam’s, and Kings.
Two inland redoubts round out the field: Labella’s, on Palmer Hill, and The Study, on the northern border of the Connecticut panhandle.
Store of the Day: Glenville Wine & Spirits, Glenville Glenville Wine and Spirits, on Glenville Street in Glenville (not to be confused with Val’s Glenville outpost, in the Stop-n-Shop center a few feet further along) is the Petticoat Junction of fine wine in Greenwich.
On any given day, homeowners from Riversville Road are there to discuss Burgundy and Tuscan wines with Manager Paul Laveris.
By the same token, Landscapers will stream in and out, slaking their powerful after-work thirsts with a few Modelos.
With only five spaces in front of the store, parking seems like it should be a problem here, but it almost never is, unless you get there at lunch or just after school ends, when GVille Deli gets its run of customers.
Go up the stairs and enter a tiny store (less than 1,000 square feet) to find one of the best-curated shops in Greenwich, and indeed, the State of Connecticut. You won’t find everything here, but you will find the best. And by “best,” I don’t mean expensive bottles only.
Owner Greg Carlon and his Associates, Paul Laveris and Chris Vellozzi, as well as his staff, have more combined wine knowledge than perhaps any store in Connecticut. And they’re NICE! Imagine that?
Glenville will order almost anything that it doesn’t happen to have in stock at the moment. More importantly, because this store has been around since the 1930s and has been owned by Greg since 1993, it is able to get its hands on a lot of allocated items that you won’t normally find.
That doesn’t mean you should go in and pester the staff about Pappy van Winkle 23 year-old, but you might be surprised what you can get if you bother to ask.
There is a superb collection of Tequila and Mezcal here, including the Mezcales de Leyenda, Tequila Ocho, Cenate Reposado, Siembra Azul, or Cimarron. A collection of gins that includes the local Port Chester brand “Neversink,” as well as Greenhook, from Brooklyn. St. George’s Green Chili Vodka is loads of fun too, as are the outrageously tasty pre-mixed cocktails from On the Rocks. (Glenville was one of the first stores to get them in Connecticut; the Old-Fashioned is outrageous.)
Regulars at Glenville consistently find a large selection of Single Malt Scotches, as well as local Bourbons like Litchfield Distillers’ 5 year-old. Clyde May’s Bourbon is a big seller.
Glenville has two long rows of California Cabernets and Chardonnays, ranging from $12 daily drinkers to $100 special occasion wines. And the Finger Lakes of New York State are better represented here than anywhere in Connecticut.
Glenville’s pride, though, is its Pinot Noirs from Oregon and California, its Italian section, and its French wines. The Pinots number over 40, with prices ranging from $15 to $80. The Italian wines feature beautiful small wines that you won’t find in a lot of stores, as well as the Italian Masters: Paolo Bea, Cantina del Pino, Angelo Gaja, Brovia, and Ferrando.
The French section is a testament to Glenville’s relationships with great importers and distributors like Rosenthal Imports: Nozay Sancerre; Pinson, Dauvissat, and Billaud-Simon Chablis; and Hubert Lignier, Fournier, Bitouzet-Prieur, and Harmand-Geoffroy Red Burgundies.
Finally, some fun items like Polkura Syrah, Petalos Bierzo, and the nice collection of Ridge Zin blends and Chardonnay Montebello show how much the Buyer at Glenville invests in satisfying even the most knowledgeable palates.
Don’t forget the beer. Glenville has an underrated rota of beers, the most delicious of which are the regular provisions trucked down every week from Kent Falls Brewery in Litchfield County. At my last visit, the store had the Danny Boy German Pilsner, Awkward Hug and SuperScript IPAs, Pause and Reflect Porter, and Bird Post Pale Ale.
More Greenwich Liquor Stores coming shortly.
See also: Frenchy’s Wine Road: Interview with Jean-Luc Colombo, French Winemaking Pioneer
Frenchy’s Wine Road: Jean-Luc Colombo on the Impact of Climate Change and Quality Winemaking
François Steichen founded and owns Frenchy’s Wine Road, a Connecticut company that writes copy and content for the wine, spirits and cider industries.
He is a resident of Old Greenwich with 15 years’ experience in the Wine Industry. François started at Harry’s Wines in Fairfield; worked at Acker, Merrall and Condit, in New York, the oldest wine store in America; and has managed stores in Greenwich.
François holds the WSET Diploma, the gold standard in wine education. At 10 years of age, François took his first – chaperoned – sip of a sparkling wine. Since that moment, the magic of fermentation and spontaneously-produced bubbles has never truly relinquished its hold on his curiosity.