New wine store in Hollywood
Always curious about where to find unusual wines -- better yet, unusually low-priced wines -- I make a habit of checking out new wine stores. I stopped by Vino 100, which opened Dec. 30 in the Hollywood & Highland complex boasting "100 wines for under $25." (Others are priced up to $50.) Located next to the Kodak Theatre, the store is bright and attractive with an inviting outdoor wine bar. Vino 100 is a franchise, so it has a selection of the wine gadgets, games and T-shirts we've come to expect from mass-market wine outlets. The idea is to demystify wines by offering a limited selection at affordable prices. The target audience: the tourists who flock to Hollywood Boulevard hoping to catch a glimpse of our local glamour.
The centralized purchasing that makes stocking dozens of stores across the country profitable can't reasonably be expected to provide a selection of truly exciting wines. And Vino 100's limited inventory proves the point. I've never heard of most of the wines in the store, which doesn't mean they are bad wines; more likely they are wines specifically created for specialty retailers. (Trader Joe's racks are full of these kinds of wines.)
I wrote down several of the wineries and checked them out online when I got back to the office. Most had websites that offered the same wines at close to the same prices as the Hollywood & Highland store (2003 Stonestreet Alexander Valley Merlot, $24, and 2002 Newton Vineyard Napa Valley Cabernet, $54). Some, like the generically named "Mockingbird Hill," didn't seem to have a website. There were some recognizable wines, like the 2004 Clos du Val Napa Valley Cabernet for $33. But this wine, like many of the other widely available wines, is available at K & L Wine Merchants down the street for significantly less (compare at $23). And there, you don't have to pay for parking.
-- Corie Brown
Clarification: Vino 100 does not offer centralized wine purchasing to its franchisees, as the Hollywood & Highland store originally suggested. Rather, inventory is selected by individual store owners and purchased through distributors.--CB
Photo by Vino 100
(An earlier version of this posting incorrectly credited the photo to Corie Brown)