Is it just me or did Pumpkin Spice Latte Season come a lot quicker than usual this year? I’m still jamming to Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hot Girl Summer” — hell, she only just released the video — and the last day of the season is only a couple weeks away.
Don’t get me wrong, I live for the cooler days of fall, but ya girl simply wasn’t ready this time around. But alas, just as I began to shed a tear, I realized I could bottle up my feelings at local bottle shops all fall long.
You may be thinking? Eh, don’t we have enough bottle shops? But a visit to one you haven’t been to before may change your mind.
Put simply, a bottle shop is a shop that sells wine, beer and other alcoholic drinks. In Charlotte, however, you’ll find a range of experiences at “bottle-type” shops that deserve a more nuanced definition. Here, you’ll find the elements of community draw, unique selection, superior service and neighborhood influence, giving each a unique vibe of its own.
The Hobbyist, for example, opened in Villa Heights at the end of June. An area that’s often mistaken for NoDa (it’s home to the original Amelie’s location and Free Range Brewing) Villa Heights has created a distinct environment vibe over the last year with openings that Charlotteans will find familiar, like Rhino Market, and new destinations like Pho @ NoDa (it will still take time to shake that NoDa attachment, apparently).
The Hobbyist is the latter, and the phrase “bottle shop” doesn’t quite seem to do this spot justice. The extensive wine selection goes unmatched among other shops in Charlotte, as a quick chat with the knowledgeable co-owner Julie Bryson will show. That combined with a bright atmosphere, highlighted by an industrial touch, sets this shop apart from many others you’ll find in the Queen City.
I would be remiss to leave out local favorites like The Common Market (choose any of three locations) and NoDa Company Store. It feels like beating a dead horse to mention these two spots, because everyone and their momma has heard about them. But the truth is, the curated experiences at each spot speak volumes to the “community draw and neighborhood influence” I mentioned above.
You can order sangria on tap at Company Store 365 days a year and grab a custom sammy or salad at The CM, but what truly makes these two spaces great is the people. Most people who enjoy going to either of these bottle shops don’t want to simply pick up a bottle of wine and go. Instead, the minutes turn into hours on their patios thanks to the environment created by the people around you — even if you’re only there to work remotely.
And then there’s Salud Beer Shop. What more can I say that USA Today hasn’t. In April of this year, Salud was named “Best Beer Bar” as part of the 2019 Reader’s Choice Awards in the country’s most colorful newspaper. Located in NoDa, this shop features hundreds of craft beer bottles and cans from all over the world, 16 rotating taps and wood-fired pizza if you need something to soak up all those suds. Not to mention, while you’re visiting, you can climb the trippy stairs to check out Salud Cerveceria, a tasting room featuring an art gallery, coffee and 11 taps.
Brawley’s Beverage was one of the first bottle shops I experienced in the Q.C., so it’s near and dear to my heart. A Park Road favorite, Brawley’s is the perfect place when you’re looking for a diverse selection accompanied by an epic patio that’s also family-friendly. A quick perusal through their reviews and you’ll want to experience this bottle shop for yourself — or you’ll be like me and say it’s time to go back ASAP.
So what makes a great bottle shop? Each adventurer has their own opinion. For me, a great bottle shop has a little bit of everything for everyone. My palate is moody, so I want to be able to find a wine, cider and sour that I enjoy on every visit. I want to feel the coziness of a comfy chair but also have the option to sip for hours on a spacious patio. I want to be able to work there during the day and grab a glass of whatever as soon as I finish up my day. And lastly, I want to be able to find something to munch on that’s tasty and filling. (The secret’s out, I love NoDa Co.!)
Where’s your favorite bottle shop in the Q.C.? My fall 2019 bucket list also includes venues I haven’t visited before like Good Bottle Co., Bulldog Beer and Wine and The Hop Shop. Share it with me and you may catch me day-drinking there on an autumnal Saturday afternoon.