By Claudie Benjamin

Are you adventurous? Christopher Barnes, journalist and owner of The Grape Collective shops, one on Broadway and the other in Montclair, NJ, said, “Grape Collective has a large selection of natural wines. The Grape Collective customers tend to be adventurous, “not just wanting the cheapest industrial wine but caring about “authenticity, quality, and craft.”

Generally speaking, this means that the selection of wines at the shop has something unique about them. This may be a special olfactory sensation or an unusual or surprising grape. The wine may be produced by a vintner with a distinctive philosophy, in a vineyard with a special history, or unusually beautiful setting. That vineyard could have characteristic soil, or it could be that a wine is produced in a region of the world that has an interesting geography that impacts a wine’s flavor.

Like what, for example? Barnes is very enthusiastic about wines from Armenia. He said there is archaeological evidence of coordinated production of wine in Armenia going back over 6,000 years. In addition to his appreciation of today’s Armenian wines, Barnes is also enthusiastic about delicious wines, both red and white, from Turkey, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Lebanon, the Republic of Georgia, and Mt. Etna in Sicily.

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Barnes grew up in the UK. He moved to New York about 20 years ago and currently lives in Greenwich Village. He opened The Grape Collective shop on the UWS ten years ago in the middle of the same block where the corner wine shop now stands at 2675a Broadway.

Barnes was an already well-established journalist well before he opened The Grape Collective. While launching his wine business, he said, “I was looking for a media project that didn’t depend on advertising or subscriptions.” What he created is described on the company website as an “Online wine magazine featuring top quality writing about wine and recommendations on great wine to tell stories about delicious wine.”

The publication relating to his business encourages customers to be more adventurous in exploring wine. And, in doing so, the idea is that they will enjoy sipping more than ever. Articles for the publication include features by well-known wine writers who find/ develop stories that provoke their own curiosity. Newcomers to the wine-writing field sometimes need a bit of guidance when looking for a story idea before taking off on their own. Articles are posted frequently, as often as two to three times a week. Many include short videos. Recent stories: “Prosecco DOCG and the Consumer Prosecco Conundrum“; “Seyit Karagözoğlu and Paşaeli Wines: Elevating Turkish Winemaking“; “Zorik Gharibian of Zorah Winery on How Armenia Rediscovered Its Love of Wine.”  

Barnes is pleased by how the shop and the magazine are interrelated in educating customers about the complexities of what makes a good wine special. “Wine is an interesting beverage,” he said.

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