Squeezing in: California Grapes among those planning Sanlitun wine bars

Frank Yglesias of wine importer and distributor California Grapes International says the company will soon open a California wine bar and retail space in Sanlitun Soho. The Miami native says he just signed a three-year lease for 135 square meters of space and plans to have it up and running by May 1.

The Sanlitun-Workers Stadium area has seen several major outlets open that are each backed by a single importer, including The Wine Gallery by ASC in Sanlitun North, a three-floor establishment by Aussino in Regentdale Center, Enoterra by Enoterra Trading in Nali Patio and a soon-to-open Everwines shop by Torres China. Operations such as Enoteca, Changyu AFIP, Zun Club, with involvement from Great Wall wines maker COFOC, are also in the area. And look for more to join them. Last week, someone — also from Miami! — told me he is planning one closer to Tuanjeihu Station and at least one other person is contemplating a California wine bar. Whew!

As for Yglesias, he says his company will have 300 different wines from California and plans free tastings for F&B managers early each week, “decompression” tastings on Fridays, and events to allow customers to “discover Californian wines.” Brands listed in the California Grapes catalog include Alpen Cellars, Andrew Lane, Bumgarner, Igneous, Keller Estate and Russian Hill.

Sibling blog Grape Wall of China will have a longer write-up with Ygliesias, covering everything from import challenges to how to increase retail sales, in the next few days.

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