What started at a dinner party nearly three years ago led to a new wine store and direct-sales headquarters at The Carling Downtown.
Wine Decadence at 31 W. Adams St. sells Foley Family Wines by the bottle and case and it’s the warehouse for a team of about 50 consultants who sell the wines at tasting parties in private homes.
Anna Valent, Wine Decadence chief operating officer and executive vice president, said in late 2013 Rick Cox invited friends over for dinner and served Foley Family Wine from vineyards owned by Bill Foley, Fidelity chairman.
“Everybody wanted to know where they could buy the wine, so he started taking orders,” said Valent.
Cox became CEO and chairman of Wine Decadence.
Within a year, a marketing plan was developed around wine tasting parties in homes.
“Most people serve wine at home-sale parties,” said Valent. “We bring the wine to the party.”
Wine Decadence consultants bring four wines and glasses for a two-hour tasting and educational session.
Valent said Foley Family owns about 50 vineyards and wineries around the world and has access to another 250 fine wine labels. Bottle prices range from $12 to more than $200.
“We offer something for every taste and budget,” she said.
After guests sample the wines and learn about their origins and food pairings, the consultant takes orders that may be picked up at the store or delivered by courier a few days after the party.
The company moved into the space at The Carling in October 2014 and used it as a warehouse to store the wine.
With help from a $33,500 Retail Enhancement Grant to the building’s owner from the Downtown Investment Authority, Wine Decadence expanded the scope from just a storage space to a retail store and tasting room.
In addition to Foley Family Wines, the store sells local craft beers and wine- and beer-related gifts and gift baskets.
Wine Decadence has applied for a permit to sell wine by the glass.
“We want to be part of the neighborhood,” Valent said. “People can stop by after work, have a glass of wine and then take a bottle home with them.”
The retail package store is open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday. When the consumption on premises permit is issued, the tasting room will be open 4-11 p.m. weekdays.
“The bar is not so much about making a profit. It’s another way to market our wine,” Valent said.
For more information about the wines and tasting parties, visit winedecadence.com.