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  • May 5th, 2010

    Cincinnati Wine Spotlight: David Pustinger and A Bottle or Two

    Cincinnati Wine Spotlight is a new monthly feature on Uncorked Cincinnati that spotlights the people, businesses and organizations helping to shape Cincinnati’s wine culture and industry.

    A Bottle or Two owner David Pustinger has always wanted to leave his mark in his adopted home of Cincinnati.

    Photo courtesy of David Pustinger

    Photo courtesy of David Pustinger

    Originally from Pennsylvania, David moved to Cincinnati in 1994 to pursue a law degree, eventually becoming a marketing executive at a local insurance company.  When his company was bought out by a multinational conglomerate David decided to embark on a new journey away from corporate America, and the wine biz came calling.

    David’s concept of A Bottle or Two was born out of a simple revelation: buying wine shouldn’t be confusing or intimidating.  After finding a prime location for the shop in Symmes Township he began the arduous journey of turning his vision into reality.  David worked with top consultants in the industry, with varying areas of expertise including architecture, retail design, a craft beer expert, and most importantly, a Master Sommelier to help select the wine.

    On November 23 of last year David’s dream became reality and A Bottle or Two opened its doors for the first time.  Six months later we got a chance to check in with David to find out how things are going, and what plans he has for the future.

    Your doors have been opened for six months now.  How have people responded to A Bottle or Two?

    The initial feedback has been exactly what I had hoped for.  People like the store’s eclectic inventory, have found it makes shopping for wine easy and fun, and love the ability to taste while they shop.

    You had a revelation when planning the concept for A Bottle or Two: buying wine shouldn’t be confusing or intimidating.  What spurred that revelation?

    After talking to some local professionals and polling my friends and family who were casual drinkers I saw that theme emerge.  People really do find buying wine, especially when buying for someone else or when thinking about food, to be confusing and even a little intimidating. I’ve always felt that wine should be a fun and rewarding experience. That shouldn’t be exclusive to drinking, but buying as well.

    Talk about the wines you carry and your wine strategy.

    We worked with Master Sommelier Ron Edwards, to develop an eclectic selection that features smaller vineyards and wineries and is reflective of my own taste as well.  There are plenty of wines you can buy at your local supermarket, but we put together a wine list that you can’t find everywhere.  And we wanted to make shopping for the wine easier.  I decided to have clear, easy to read information cards for each wine. It features tasting notes, as well as some food pairing ideas, which is something our customers have really responded positively to.

    You’re also one of the first shops to really make technology a big part of your overall strategy in helping customers.  Can you talk to that a bit?

    We installed a computer kiosk that allows customers to virtually browse the store’s wine list based on their own criteria.  We linked the software to our website. That way anybody could simply go on-line and look at what we had. And in the very near future, customers in Ohio will be able to order directly through the website and simply come in and pick up their order.

    I really feel that technology is important in today’s marketplace. Marc, our tech guy, does a great job of keeping us connected to our customers and letting them know what we have going on at the store. When you add that to the computer kiosk and our state-of-the-art presentation system for tastings, I think we are really making it easier for people who are interested in buying wine.

    You’ve also invested quite a bit in creating a great tasting environment.  Why have you made this so important to the shop?

    I really wanted to make A Bottle or Two fun. I did a lot of research into what people were looking for, what they would enjoy while shopping for wine. The most common response, and the one we’ve really latched onto, is tasting.

    We secured an on-premise liquor license that would allow for tastings in a wide variety of formats. We then installed three wine preservation units, where customers can taste 15 wines by the glass or taste as they shop the store. It’s become very popular. People love that they can taste a wine before deciding to buy it. Our happy hours, where we discount the price of a taste, have become incredibly popular in the local community. It’s a great way to start a Friday night or wind down after a long week at work. And it offers more than a run-of-the-mill wine tasting. Our staff is incredibly knowledgeable about all the wines in the store, so customers can really get an experience that goes beyond a cheap wine and cheese tasting.

    Photo courtesy of David Pustinger

    Photo courtesy of David Pustinger

    It’s a scary time to start a business with the economy where it is today.  Why did you decide to take the leap?

    A lot of people questioned the decision to start a small business with everything going on with the economy, but creating something from the ground level is something I was passionate about.  So rather than relocate my family for another corporate gig I decided to go into business for myself.

    So what are your plans going forward?

    There’s a lot to look forward to at the store. We are currently working out the bugs in our online ordering system. We are also preparing to unveil our ‘Wine of the Month’ club, which we believe will truly be step a above the rest. And due to popular demand, we are going to offer a series of ‘Wine 101’ education events that are really going to be a lot of fun and very informative. Our tasting schedule continues to grow, and I think we are really accomplishing a lot of the goals I had in the beginning. In the end, that’s what’s so rewarding about small business.

    Stop by and say hi to David, and check out A Bottle or Two firsthand.  Throughout all of May David and his team will be celebrating their Grand Opening Month with a ton of great events.

    A Bottle or Two
    11920 Montgomery Road
    Cincinnati, OH 45249

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    • We’re having a great time with our grand opening month so far. Chip of Burnet Ridge got us off to a great start on derby day as we tasted his wine among a number of friends.