We developed a powerful thirst relocating to North Carolina from 600 miles away. Luckily we discovered Cellar 55 in our new hometown.
Wine Oasis Ahead
Relocating from another state can really put a crimp on things – especially our enjoyment of wine. We are newcomers to North Carolina, specifically to the hyphenated town of Fuquay-Varina in Wake County. As a result, we were disconnected from our wine compadres and the usual shops, tastings and events we used to frequent. On top of it all, more than half of my vino is in my mother-in-law’s spare bedroom.
We were scouting out a fitness club in our new town when I happened to spy the sign for Cellar 55 across the street. I was hoping this wasn’t a misleading sign for a new fashion store for ‘tweens. All thoughts of that were dispelled when we walked in the door. Displays of wine and craft beer stretched wall to wall. That was just the first of what I expect will be many visits.
The shop, located at 1351 E. Broad St. in Fuquay-Varina, NC, in Fuquay Crossing shopping center, is owned by Bill and Karyl Wigington. The mission is to provide advice and education so that all can understand and enjoy what they are drinking at all price points. We’ll put it more simply, this is “home sweet home” for area wine lovers who want an eclectic selection of bottles, free tastings, wine pairing events and education.
I don’t want to short-sell the amazing array of craft beers and the activities for those focused on brew. It’s very impressive. Our focus, however, is on wine. And there’s a lot of it!
The wines on display are very diverse, with good selections from some of our favorite areas including Washington State, South Africa, Spain, Oregon and Paso Robles. No one should ever walk out of the store without a bottle – too many good choices.
On Fridays and Saturdays, there are free tastings of both beer and wine. Wine Specialist Jim Breece has handled the wine tastings each time I’ve been there. He’s friendly and knowledgeable. The back half of the store is the tasting room, with individual tables and seating areas and a large communal table. One of my favorite features is the “wall of wine,” a Wine Station dispenser that allows you to use a swipe card to dispense any of 16 different wines in three different portion sizes (and prices).
The Wine Station is a stellar feature. In addition to being a dispenser, it is a wine preservation system, ensuring you won’t have a spoiled glass of wine. You have the chance to take small samples of wine – or dispense a whole glass. It’s an excellent way to sample a variety of wines. A nearby corkboard displays tasting notes and pricing on each featured bottle. I sampled the 2012 “The Ball Buster” Shiraz blend from Australia and it did indeed pack a flavorful punch.
The large communal table can be used for socializing or for one of the many events/programs put on by Cellar 55. They also offer a “small bites” menu ranging from olives to charcuterie or even dessert chocolate (nice for those Cabernets).
The Educated Grape
Cellar 55 hosts regular wine and food pairings, in conjunction with local chefs. Beware! These events sell out well in advance, so get your tickets early. Educational programs on various wine regions or aspects of wine tasting are also on the docket. One upcoming program (August 16) focuses on the Bordeaux and Loire regions of France – two of the greatest in the world.
Specials abound at Cellar 55. Wednesday is 10% off beer and wine by the glass. Every day they offer 20% off growler fills. They also offer discounts on purchases of three bottles of special selection wines and a discount on case wine purchases.
Cellar 55 opened its doors in July 2016. Just a year later it is making an indelible impression on the wine landscape in Wake County. There’s only one way you can be sure – walk in their door and grab a glass!