Feb 27, 2009 Annette Hogan Uncategorized
The owner of downtown wine shop, Vinomania, isn’t worried about state proposals to sell wine in grocery stores. Gary Decker personally helps customers choose the wines they serve at meals and parties from the wide selection offered at his “unique wine store,” located in the Nettleton Commons on Pearl Street.
“Ninety percent of customers want me to pick out the wines,” he said.
After 30 years of working in the food and wine business in Syracuse, Decker is qualified to help match wines with menus and plan quantities for parties. He formerly owned and operated two restaurants: Deckers Veal and Vintage located at Holly and Crouse Streets and Deckers at the Plaza, located in the Presidential Plaza downtown. He has sold wines at Vinomania for nine years.
The shop sells bottles that are good with good value, said Decker. He doesn’t buy big lots because he likes to keep his stock fresh and this also helps him keep up a lively variety of wines for his customers.
Illustrating the personal service given at Vinomania, Josephine Kern breezed into the shop with a market basket on her arm. As she quickly described upcoming menus: lamb chops with Belgian endive and scallops saut (c)ed with root vegetables, Decker placed bottles in her basket. Her husband, Steven Kern, is the director of the Everson Museum and they frequently entertain guests related to museum events, she said.
Decker really helps, she said. He suggests the quantities of wine necessary for the number of guests and, as she likes to serve food based on the art exhibits, he also helps her match a region’s wines with the cuisine on her menu.
“Pairing food and wine is an art,” Kern said.
Oddly comforting atmosphere
The brick walls of the shop give a well-lit cellar feel and are crowded with a campy collection of stuffed animals, a large plastic Elvis bust, celebrity and family pictures and science fiction posters. Racks and open wooden boxes display the many bottles of wine. On Valentine’s Day about a dozen customers were chatting, tasting and buying wines while soulful rhythm and blues music played in the background.
Customers Ann McMahon and Alan Ellsworth live in Albany. They said they prefer Vinomania to wine stores there. Decker is fun and it’s a nice atmosphere at the shop, said Ellsworth. There is an incredible depth in the selection, he said, and they order cases of their favorite hard-to-find wines from Vinomania.
Joe Smith of Auburn said Decker’s personality keeps a loyal “fan base” at the shop. And customers develop a taste for the unique wines Decker offers.
“It’s hard to answer the question: will I like this?” said Smith.
But Decker is talented at getting his customer’s preferences and people are very appreciative, he said.
Most wines at Vinomania range in price from $6 to $16 per bottle. A discount of ten percent is given for six bottles purchased at the same time. Decker offers some higher-end wines priced from $35 to $60 per bottle and a few special gift bottles for as much as $130.
Learn about wine in a non-intimidating atmosphere at two upcoming wine tastings to be held at Vinomania on Feb. 27 and March 6, between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Vinomania, a unique wine store, located on Pearl and Willow Streets in the Nettleton Commons (near Columbus Bakery and the on-ramp to 81N). Hours of operation: Monday, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
You won’t find this Vinomania online, but you will reach it on this line 422-8466.
Great Businesses in Syracuse:
Vinomania owner, Gary Decker, recommended some other Syracuse businesses to our readers:
Lemp Jewelers & Silversmiths, 300 S. Warren St., 422-7228
This is the store’s 119th year of business in downtown Syracuse, said President W. Donald Lemp. It sells jewelry, fine china, collectibles, sterling flatware and offers a bridal registry. The staff doesn’t work on commission. They are highly trained and certified in gemology. Most of them have worked at the shop between 10 and 20 years. “We get questions from other jewelers,” said Lemp. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Angotti’s Family Restaurant, 725 Burnet Ave., 472-8403
This family-owned and operated restaurant is located in a large, multi-story house. They’ve been serving great food there for 23 years, said Bobby Angotti. While Decker recommends the chicken cacciatore, the restaurant is known for the garlic pizza, chicken parmesan and baked ziti. Lunch is served on Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. On Thursdays lunch and dinner are served between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. Fridays the restaurant serves between 11 a.m. and 10 p.m. and on Saturday, meals are served between 12 p.m. and 10 p.m. Angotti’s is closed Sundays and Mondays. Take-out catering is available. Park on the street and in adjacent parking lots.
BTI Travel, 620 Erie Blvd., 472-7737
This travel agency has been planning trips in Syracuse for 21 years. Using an agent gives you access to more technology and all the best fares, said owner Lou Lemos. BTI is the largest single agency in Syracuse with 38 full and part-time employees. Most of these agents have more than ten years of experience, said Lemos. They are savvy and knowledgeable. The company plans personal and group vacations, business trips, small to large conferences, and for the past four years has planned fundraising cruises and other trips for donors to the Syracuse Symphony.