By Bob Tagert
Altura Wine, Beer & Gourmet!
I was on my way to one of our advertisers for a meeting when I parked on North Patrick Street. It is a rare occasion that I ever end up parking on that busy thoroughfare but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself right in front of Altura Wine, Beer & Gourmet. I have driven down Patrick Street tens of thousands of times over the years but never really take the time to check out the stores so I had never noticed the Altura.
As I got out of the truck and was headed for the parking kiosk, I saw Edgar Salinas – Altura owner and operator – adding a little white paint to the weathered wood on the front of the building. We hadn’t settled on a subject for this month’s Business Profile so I introduced myself and asked if we could write about his store. He consented.
As most of you know we have been producing the Old Town Crier for almost 29 years and I hate to admit that there are many shops that I have never set foot in and I feel a little guilty about that. I decided this was a good start. In this case, Altura has only been open a little over two years, so it was time for a visit.
Edgar and his wife Ana Gonzalez opened their family-owned business in December of 2013. The small shop is filled to the brim with local wines and wines from around the world. Salinas handpicks every item that they carry in the store and has focused on “small producers with a passion”. As you enter the brightly lit store the first rack of wines you see are his choices from New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and Virginia as well as a few other well sourced wines.
The back of the store is what Salinas refers to as his “Old World and New World” wines. One side is reserved for the different regions of France while the other side represents the best that California has to offer. In addition to these two large selections there are selections from other parts of the world as well.
Taking the time to learn about the wines he sells sets this wine shop apart from many others. As he went about the selection process Salinas got to know many of his producers. One special relationship he had was with Jim Law of Linden Wines in Virginia – arguably one of the best wine makers in Virginia. The other Virginia wines that were hand picked are from King Family, Tarara, Naked Mountain and Ankida Ridge. I had never heard of Ankida Ridge before, but Edgar assured me it was one of the best Pinot Noir wines he has ever tried, especially for the price. It is this kind of detail that makes this shop a special place.
Salinas is also a wine consultant, and will take the time to talk to you and learn what it is that you like in wine. He will even take the time to special order for his customers. Your purchase will not break the bank as most of his wines are in the $12 to $30 range with his most expensive wine topping out at $107. If you are not sure what you really like, he can help you make the right choice.
To round out your wine purchase, they also offer a selection of gourmet food ranging from jams, and single-source chocolates to smoked salmon, cheese, pastas, and select meats including prosciutto, my favorite. They also have a selection of craft beers from America, Canada and Europe with the choices changing with the season as well as the bubbly for that special occasion.
The word Altura is Spanish meaning elevation. The name helps to convey the message of reaching a higher elevation, whether it be the concentration of grapes on a mountainside or the high level of service and experience that you will find here at this wine shop.
Altura is located at 108 North Patrick Street here in the heart of Old Town and is within walking distance for all of us. Check out their website at alturawinegourmet.com.